I’m typically not much of a shooter guy. Every other year I pick up a Call of Duty game, play the campaign through and toss the box back into my collection to gather dust. While I do enjoy the campaign of shooters well enough, I don’t buy them for the sake of their campaign; I buy them to have something in my house for other people. But as online gaming becomes more and more relevant, inviting friends over to play games is less so. So where does military shooter campaign play stand, and how does Medal of Honor Warfighter’s single player experience fit in?
I remember years ago playing a Medal of Honor Allied Assault and storming the beach of Normandy. The lighting was poor, and I didn’t have any idea what I should shoot at or how best to get from point ‘A’ to ‘B’. I learned pretty quick that is was much easier to run for the nearest bit of cover and only take out the enemies closest to me. By running and praying, I had a chance. As military shooters evolved, run and pray turned to the all too familiar spray and pray. None of this was possible in Warfighter.
Here I am storming a beach yet again, for God knows why (as if I pay attention to the story), and it’s a whole new ball game. The sun is up and the insurgents are out. Like games before it, I assume the best route to take is to sprint from cover to cover, waiting for the opportunity to pick off enemies. I learned quite quickly that this was a poor approach. Enemies use cover tactically and seem to value their life dearly. Pair that with their dead-on aim, and strategy becomes everything.
Moving forward in cover corridors is slow and tedious, but it makes sense. Deadly tangos are often faraway enough that getting a head shot is a near pixel-perfect affair. As tempting as it can be to run up on these guys, it’s better to be patient and use cover effectively. In the sections I played like this, I didn’t feel like I had much option or room for improvisation, but mastering finesse felt rewarding in and of itself. The gun play is tight, and each shot feels like it matters with most of the guns being single and burst shot fire.
Sections of the game felt compartmentalized, each serving a different gameplay purpose. Moving on from these galleries, close quarters combat comes into play from time to time in cramped up buildings. It doesn’t seem to be very often, but more or less these sections aim to take the player off guard. These sections evolve with more tactical elements.
Breaching doors into a slow motion hustle has definitely been done before, but Medal of Honor seeks to change things up with breach unlocks. By racking up headshots during breaches, new breach tactics are unlocked. From tossing hatchets to concussive grenades, breaches become more and more interesting, simply for the benefit of having something to work toward with new ways to take people out. Sadly, I didn’t unlock more than one, but I did have a blast later taking out my little robot to go for pot shots at people hiding in rubble. That was just as fun.
From there, I moved on to the sniping bit. Sitting next to a spotter, I was tasked with eliminating rocket launcher-bearing terrorists. From my fixed location, my spotter directed me to targets and let me know how I was missing – whether it was because I didn’t take a proper breath, compensate for bullet drop or just plain poor aim. I had to take out these guys in time, because if I didn’t, they’d take out the support chopper. I failed many times, but it was exciting and the challenge grabbed me.
The game has levels that introduce new contextual gameplay, like a level where I drove a car in a mad gun chase. The controls were responsive and the action intense. It’s no horses, mind you, but it was fun and broke things up.
I’ve always been of thought that when you cross genres, like first person shooting and driving, developers can only hope to do well if they integrate the other bits of gameplay with the intention of creating something fully realized. But why would anyone pour just as much effort into designing a driving sequence as they would their shooting mechanics. No one would, and Danger Close didn’t. This section was not quite as satisfying as the snowmobile sequences of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but certainly not as embarrassing as the driving sequences in Tony Hawk’s Underground.
So, what’s to be expected of Medal of Honor Warfighter’s campaign? Probably the same stuffs from every other military shooter: a far too serious, far too convoluted story that doesn’t matter, typical but satisfying FPS gunplay and more explosions than Michael Bay can reason with. That and fun bits where buildings fall to make a ramp to your next objective and other events of colliding conveniences and inconveniences. ‘Oh no, our helicopter was shot down… good thing there’s another one right behind all those terrorists.’