If youâ€™re anything like me – and your wallet exactly isnâ€™t bursting at the seams with cash – thenÂ you'veÂ probably realized that you may not be able to pick up every single one of this seasonâ€™s AAA releases (thank God for those delays, right). We've been lucky; so far there haven't really been many I would classify as 'must-haves'. Assassin's Creed III is certainly on gamer's Most Wanted lists, and there have definitely been a number of none-shooter titles such asÂ Dishonored and XCOM: Enemy Unknown to consider.
But in the land of the shooter, this season is kind of a big deal. And with so many choices, it's going to be tough toÂ pick which heavy-hitter FPS is worth your time and money. Â Not only is thereÂ Activisionâ€™s multi-billion dollar Call of Duty franchise and its smaller EA competitor, but the sci-fi phenomenon that is Halo 4. And let me tell you, Halo 4's excellent promotional web series Forward Unto Dawn coupled with the David Fincher-produced live-action teaser don't make thisÂ decisionÂ any easier. But having spent a good 10 days playing the Warfighter beta, all I can say is that this is going to be even harder than casting a vote for the next President of the United States. Sure it might just be another military shooter, a genre that has become staler than week old bread, but Iâ€™m not ready to count out Warfighter just yet.
2010â€™s Medal of Honor reboot was a well-intended experiment…but for all intents and purposes an unmitigated disaster. The multiplayerÂ wasn'tÂ engaging enough to compel most players to put down their copies of Modern Warfare 2 or Bad Company 2, and the graphics weren't anything to write home about. The game came off as an odd mix between the respective CoD and Battlefield franchises and was hastily prepared by DICE, a developer was already bogged down with last year'sÂ Battlefield 3. Meanwhile the campaign, which was pitched as a more realistic take on the modern combat shooter set during Americaâ€™s current conflict within Afghanistan, was plagued by bugs, game-breaking glitches and a horrendous, idiotic A.I.
The game was only a modest success and aÂ far cryÂ from the franchise reboot EA was hoping for. Now, two years later, developer Danger Close has taken over the reigns of both the single-player andÂ multiplayer components. Powered now by DICE's Frostbite 2 Engine, Warfighter promises to be at the very least, a beautiful game filled with all the realistic explosions, destructive environments and ridiculous lighting and particle effects that made Battlefield 3 such a ground-breaker. Pretty graphics are nice and all, and in that regard at least Warfighter trumps the competition. Treyarch is still powering Black Ops II with an updated version of tits existing World at War engine, and as such, simply put, looks like garbage. Like Modern Warfare 3, this latest entry in the ever-popular Call of Duty franchise is full of bland browns andÂ grays,Â uninspired urban landscapes and boring, flat lighting. That being said, none of the millions upon millions of fans who have already pre-ordered the title are likely care, and I think every analyst, blogger, and critic would agree that Medal of Honor: Warfighter doesn't have a chance in Hell of beating Black Ops II in sales.
But if you've grown a little tired of the barrageÂ of annual Call of Duty titles and want something a bit different, than Warfighter might be for you. It's not a game changer, but it is different enough to set it apart from CoD and Medal of Honor's sister franchise, Battlefield.
Like its predecessor MoH: Warfighter is all anÂ authenticÂ militaryÂ experienceÂ Â Instead of telling a sprawling, epic narrative of explode-y Michael Bay proportions where all that stands between peace and total global annihilation is one man – as is the case with nearly everyÂ Call of Duty game, Warfighter aims to tell a smaller, more personal story about the soldiers themselves: Their bonds. Their families. Their fears. Captain Price and Alex Mason may be certified tough cookies, but I wouldn't exactly call them 'characters'. Much like Master Chief, they are practically faceless, ciphers for the player with little depth or character development. You could argue that Price undergoes an arc over the course of the Modern Warfare trilogy, but it isn't very defined. Warfighter's campaign on the other hand appears to tell a story with a bit more depth to it than its competitors. And if the recently announced tie-in DLC with the upcoming film by Kathryn Bigelow Zero Dark Thirty is of any indication, (a film which recounts the hunt for Osama Bin Laden), then Danger Close is showing itsÂ commitmentÂ to deliveringÂ somethingÂ different.
But what about the multiplayer? Is the online component all that different from what you've played before? Yes, and no. It's controls are similar to that of CoD and it features a slide move reminiscent of BF3. It also sports a lean-out mechanic where players can hold down on the Left Bumper to dip in and out of cover. Then again this feature is pretty useless so you'll almost never use it. Â Other than that, Warfighter playsÂ a lotÂ like CoD and looks like a lot Battlefield. Â There are however, some minor tweaks and additions to the tried and trued format. Guns have more customization options than seen in previous FPS titles, allowing you to change everything from the sights, to the barrel, to even the stock…though it remains unclear as to what changes it actually makes to the gameplay if any.
Warfighter's marketing tool is that it features Special Forces teams from all over the globe, particularly from regions where the game is most popular such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. There are six classes to choose from, all staples of military shooters such as a light, run-and-gun Spec Ops character, a heavy gunner, and a demolitions expert who comes with one of this gamer's favorite special abilities – Tank Mode, which allows a player to lower a blast shield over their face for greater defense at the cost of running. Each class has such an ability- the aforementioned Spec Ops class can scan the area for nearby enemies and ping them on the mini-map, and the assault rifle class comes with everyone's favorite: the Noob Tube.What's good about that special ability is that it is reminiscent of the class powers featured in Battlefield, but can be seen more like the Perks found in CoD. And like its predecessor, Warfighter still seems to be aiming for gameplay that is a mix between the the two main military FPS franchises, but now seems to be leaning towards refining those mechanics.
Like Battlefield 3, Warfighter features squads, however they are now two-man fire teams. This means the game is better played with a close and trusted friend rather than with a stranger. The game also brings back support actions, its version of Kill Streaks, a huge improvement on the 2010 reboot. Support actions are acquired through a continuous string of points (not just kills), much like in Modern Warfare 2 and range from radar jamming to a variety of attack helicopters. What was cool and a nice change of pace from other games is that the support actions are unique to each class. That means you have a lot of freedom to pick and choose your favorite class based on their available weapons, special ability and support actions.
Out now, Medal of Honor:Â Warfighter is already being well received and is a clear improvement over the 2010 reboot. Danger Close appears to have provided on all fronts, and I feel confident that this will be a breath of fresh air in the cluttered FPS space.