E3 2012: Medal of Honor: Warfighter Hands-On Preview

By Jordan Douglas on June 25, 2012, 10:19PM EDT
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EA's two-headed first-person-shooting monster, Battle of Honorfield, has set its sights squarely on the king of online carnage, Activision's Call of Duty. The annual war-of-words and public relations cage-match is set to reach new highs, and surely some crushing lows, this holiday season... Are we still talking about videogames? I'm not even sure anymore. No matter! In 2012, its Danger Close's turn to take a shot at the FPS crown with Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Equipped with the fully-realized Frostbite 2 engine of Battlefield 3 fame, and some futuristic multiplayer tricks up its sleeve, the successor to 2010's Medal of Honor reboot is hoping to make a strong push for our collective mindshare.

World-class wordplay aside, Medal of Honor: Warfighter really does take cues from DICE and the Battlefield series in general, which is probably a smart move. Warfighter's predecessor went most of the way with its online implementation, and now that the Frostbite 2 engine has truly hit its stride, there's no turning back. This close working relationship between DICE and Danger Close has ultimately resulted in Medal of Honor's detailed environments, crisp lighting, smooth combat, and generally visually-striking presentation. Focusing more on close-quarters scenarios - as opposed to Battlefield's massive... well, battlefields - has also allowed Warfighter's team to get quite a bit out of the Frostbite juggernaut. While far from the most original presentation on the market, the high-end PC build we got our hands-on left a strong impression.

Our multiplayer session put players in the shoes of the West's most-specialized military operatives, battling through an appropriately war-torn Somali village. As mentioned above, this map was entirely designed around claustrophobic close-quarters combat. Tight alleyways, multi-story crumbling buildings, the occasional courtyard killzone... Again, it's a formula we've come to expect from the genre, but one that continues to work for the most part. Combat flowed nicely during our relatively brief time with Warfighter, featuring a steady back-and-forth between sides and plenty of pathways to take advantage of. Perhaps most importantly, weapons had just about the right "weight" to them, which continues to elude many shooters.

One area where Medal of Honor attempts to try something a little different is in its internationally-inspired class and perk system. Players can choose from a variety elite fighting forces: Britain's SAS, Canada's JTF-2, Germany's KSK and Russia's Spetsnaz. Oh, and the SEALs are in there too, if anyone cares. Each of these national units can select from a range of class types, such as riflemen, heavy-gunner, sniper and so on. Finally, these player-driven combinations are equipped with a set of somewhat futuristic abilities - one example being the radar detection system which layers hostile silhouettes on top of your regular vision. If nothing else, it's a more effective, mini-mapless way of displaying that crucial information.

In the end, Medal of Honor: Warfighter appears to be a workmanlike offering in the notoriously-competitive FPS arena. It's slick visual presentation, dependable gunplay and close-quarters multiplayer all create a steady package, but one that doesn't seem to tread much new ground. Maybe the campaign will produce something truly unexpected.

Stay tuned for more Medal of Honor leading up to its October 23rd release date on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC... possibly with Wii U and Vita versions in the works.

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