Release Date: October 23 (North America), October 26 (Europe)
Platforms available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Developer: Danger Close
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First-person shooter
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is to Battlefield what Black Ops is to Modern Warfare, ensuring that EA has at least one premier shooting franchise on the shelves in time for Christmas every year. However, there was once a time when Medal of Honor was the only military-based first-person shooter worth playing, back when Nazis were the enemy of choice and multiplayer was played with a split down the middle of the screen. Can Warfighter recapture the glory of past releases, or is it time for this series to be honourably discharged?
The story is told through a series of slightly jumbled cut-scenes that flit between Preacher and his family and the wider mission. The action itself, meanwhile, shifts between Preacher and a new character named Stump. The attempt to thread personal relationships with a wider military conflict is poorly handled, however, resulting in a game where there's very little emotional engagement with the characters, despite the development team's better efforts.
The campaign itself takes place in a wide-ranging selection of countries and environments, from markets to warships in diverse locations such as Somalia and Pakistan. Unfortunately, despite some impressive - albeit occasionally buggy - visuals, the environments fail to leave a lasting impression, largely due to the sheer number of identikit military shooters that have been released in recent years.
Moving beyond glitches and generic level design, Warfighter does contain some genuinely captivating set-pieces. One level sees players chase down a hostile throughout dockyards and market stalls, a scene followed up with another chase sequence set in Dubai. Stealth sections and alternative vehicle levels are also included, adding an extra layer of excitement and ensuring that shooting enemies doesn't grow stale.
The option to breach doors using alternative, unlockable methods is another nice touch, while the weapon handling is varied, providing a satisfying kick when gunning down foes. While the single-player campaign may feel generic and slightly underdeveloped, there are countless highlights. Instead, it suffers largely at the hands of superior rivals.
The game's multiplayer mode suffers from similar problems, but is generally much more satisfying. Warfighter adopts a similar online model to FIFA, splitting players into countries, which adds a sense of national pride and competition.
British users can play as the SAS, Polish players can select the GROM, while US users can choose from the NAVY SEALs, SFOD-D and the OGA. Players start out with a fairly standard selection of soldiers, although there are plenty of modifications to unlock, which add various stat boosts, allowing players to evolve into their own idea of the perfect soldier.
Much like the campaign, however, the multiplayer mode isn't without its bugs and users will occasionally suffer at the hands of poor respawn positions, invisible walls and dodgy head shots. Fortunately, however, these issues don't ruin what is otherwise a well-constructed online mode. The maps, meanwhile, could be accused of lacking originality, although the same could be said of most modern military shooters.
Even with a fresh batch of bug fixes, it's hard to imagine that Medal of Honor: Warfighter would be anything other than a run-of-the-mill modern military shooter. The game lacks imagination and fails to engage the audience in the single-player campaign, despite the use of the excellent Frostbite 2 engine. Perhaps releasing three or four years ago it would have been a different story, but compared to its rivals, it's lacking innovation.
That being said, Warfighter isn't necessarily a bad game, and there are some fantastic set-pieces and nice ideas in the multiplayer mode. It's a visually impressive game with a campaign that mixes up the objectives to avoid growing stale. It's not yet time for the Medal of Honor franchise to be honourably discharged, but the development team need to approach the series from a different angle if they're to avoid being left on the battlefield.