Medal of Honor has been gradually edging its way back to great things for a few years now. Next in line to try to steal the Call of Duty crown: Medal of Honor Warfighter.
Resting on the graphical laurels of Battlefield 3's Frostbite 2 engine, on the screen Medal of Honor Warfighter looks great, but how does it play?
The idea of the new Medal of Honor is based around special forces. You follow take part in battles around the globe with small teams of elite soldiers from different countries. This mechanic translates into the multiplayer, but we will talk about that later.
While our time with MoH's single player was fairly brief, that Battlefield 3 magic has clearly washed off on it. Those disappointed with the slightly bare bones single player of BF3 might be in luck with MoH. Don't forget though, that these are two entirely different developers, so don't hold us to it yet.
The level we saw was set in Karachi and was a driving segment put together with some pointers from the team currently working on the new Need for Speed.
Your task is to chase an assassin across the city in a 4x4. The moment you step on the gas it's clear the driving mechanics have had quite a bit of thought put into them. It didn't feel like driving a hovercraft, which is typical of the driving levels in other first-person shooters: instead the handling had a bit of complexity to it. It wasn't, however, Forza level of input.
The graphics make quite a statement. On the PC version of the game the streets of Karachi looked impressive. As you rip through the level, crashing along the way, the car's windscreen cracks and little rays of sunlight glare through the glass. Chickens, dust and litter obscure your view and people run across your path, almost getting hit.
It certainly felt very Call of Duty like, although the actual gameplay polish just wasn't there. The level tried to create the illusion of ramming the assassin's car off the road all by yourself, but the path was so pre-determined, the car just slowed down towards the end and the game practically forced you to take it out.
The level also seemed to go on for an awkwardly long period of time. We do enjoy the odd driving segment thrown into a shooter, but not one that lasts for ten minutes and with relatively little to do other than take in the sights of Karachi at 50 mph. Still, a good effort and admittedly not what the new MoH is all about.
The full game's single player should have a lot more to offer. EA had hoped to show us another part of MoH, which saw an American special forces team storm a beachhead full of Somalian pirates. The demo wasn't working, however, but we were promised plenty of shooting segments and the return of the sniper sections which were so well received in previous games.
Now on to multiplayer, which we spent much longer with. It revolves around a fairly unusual concept which essentially pits different countries around the globe against each other. There are several character classes to pick from, ranging from the sniper to assault and heavy gunner as well as the nippier run-and-gun spec ops types.
Each class then has a range of nationalities you can pick from, say a Polish assaulter or a German heavy-gunner. Dependant on what country you choose, these then come to define your character class.
Let's take the South Korean sniper we used, as an example. First, he had a unique and very cool-looking sniper rifle. Each class also gets its own secondary weapon: so the sniper has a proximity mine, the spec ops the ability to see through walls for a moment and the assaulter can use a grenade launcher.
There is one immediate problem with all of this, and it's something which anyone who plays the new MoH is very vocal about. Despite all its efforts to be an entirely authentic shooter, no amount of bullets seemed to take down enemies. We aren't sure if it was a collision detection issue or just balancing, but the sniper for example seemed to do more damage with his pistol than his rifle.
The buddy system implemented also caused us irritation. The idea is that each multiplayer match you play, you are given a buddy whom you can then spawn on. If you die and your buddy manages to kill whoever killed you, then you are able to spawn back into the action straight away.
It definitely sounds good on paper, but here's the problem: you can't respawn on your friend if he is being shot at, so the system becomes useless as a support tool. Instead you are just forced to repeatedly fall back.
Rather than creating an environment where you are constantly pouring bullets on each other, you have to die, wait to respawn and then run back to the action. Sounds like Battlefield, right? The problem is that the maps are much smaller, so you die a lot more frequently. It needs CoD-style instant respawns to maintain a flow to the gameplay.
There is a lot we enjoyed about Medal of Honor Warfighter however, partly because it drew so heavily from Call of Duty. Thanks to the engine really, this is a game that feels like a more modern version of the latter.
From what we played, however, the gameplay just wasn't quite there yet. Admittedly things could change in the build up to release and the single player could prove to be better than we saw. Medal of Honor Warfighter is a case of watch this space and wait and see how the reviews turn out.