Jun 062014

Status: Complete

Most Intriguing Idea: Hey let’s put some car chases in our war game! Doesn’t that sound great? Guys? Guys!?

Best Design Decision: It is possible to turn the game off.

Worst Design Decision: I guess I’ll give this crown to the counterproductive breach progression.


Medal of Honor: Warfighter is one of the worst-designed shooters I have ever played. It’s not the worst overall, or the worst made, or the stupidest… the nuts and bolts seem to work fine, it’s just that the decisions that went in here generated a game that’s a godawful mess. This starts at the most basic level of combat. The guns lack feedback and generally feel weightless. Swapping them around is irritating–the reasonably sensible system of carrying two long arms and a pistol from the previous game is replaced by a random assortment of scenarios of carrying one long arm and a pistol, or two long arms, or a long arm, a pistol, and another long arm you can only use in special circumstances, etc. Enemy weapons can be picked up but not carried: switch and you toss that gun away, a particular annoyance in a level where the only weapon that can be carried is a pistol.  The combat arenas strung along the linear design are often inscrutable, and the ally AI is barely able to take down one or two of the enemies that constantly trickle in from seemingly random directions, even if those foes are standing still out in the open or running towards danger. Of course, it may be that their shots are blocked by the foliage, which seems to be impermeable to bullets.

Then there is the door-breaching mechanic. By shooting enemies in the head immediately after a breach, it’s possible to unlock new methods for breaching a door. However, each of these new tools actually takes longer and is less convenient for knocking down doors than the initial kicking-it-open approach. Each unlock makes opening a door needlessly complicated and slows everything down, which is kind of what’s wrong with the whole game.

The junky shooting is strung into a story of incredibly bad design, chopped up and tossed together like so much narrative salad, dressed with irrelevant incidents ripped from the headlines and slightly changed so that they include more opportunities for Brave American Soldiers to slaughter Bad Foreigners. At one point I realized I literally had no goddamn idea at all what was going on or why I was suddenly in the Phillipines in a monsoon. I hope you didn’t come here for any warfighting, by the way. Unlike the previous game, which actually told a reasonably coherent story about the origins, process, and conclusion of a particular battle, Warfighter is all about covert ops and marital strife–the latter story related entirely by character models brought in straight from the uncanny valley, including a vaguely horrifying child. This focus is, perhaps, why there is so much damn driving in this game, including some incredibly ill-advised car chases. One of these, unbelievably, features the world’s dumbest vehicular stealth section, a crossing of the bad design idea streams that unfortunately did not cause the game disc to shatter.

It’s a shame, because Medal of Honor at least made a try at representing the Afghan War, but Warfighter is just a disaster.

Verdict: Only play this if you have a sincere interest in how the design of an immersive shooter can go horribly, horribly wrong.

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