It’s easy to guess what to expect when first starting EA’s new modern shooter, Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The title alone, “Warfighter”, pretty much gives it away: you’ll be playing someone who fights wars, and does little else. Yes, it’s a first-person action game with guns, so you’ll be doing a lot of shooting and war-fighting, but there’s fun, exhilarating shooting and there’s drab, repetitive shooting. Medal of Honor: Warfighter belongs somewhere in the middle, leaning heavily drab-wards.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be heading to the single-player campaign first before testing your multiplayer prowess, so that’s where we’ll start. The main story (if you can call it one) follows a squad of American soldiers attempting to stop a terrorist organization by killing a whole bunch of people all over the world. If any of this sounds familiar it’s because we’ve already been through it in a dozen other modern shooters, many of which did it much better.

Albeit this very simple story, Warfighter’s campaign is rather hard to follow; half of the time it’s difficult to understand what’s going on or who you’re fighting against. Maybe it’s because most of the characters look the same, or because every second line of dialog is drowned in the loud sound effects or horrible music. It usually doesn’t really matter in this type of game, but it does seem like the game wants you to connect to the characters. At one point in the campaign a new character with a Viking beard (a must, it seems, for every Tier 1 warrior) and a backwards cap was introduced. The game made such a big deal out of him, I got the sense I was supposed to know who he is, and I didn’t (and I played the previous game). For a game who wants the player to take its story seriously, it doesn’t even make an effort to deliver it properly. But hey, who plays these games for the story, right?

Well, unfortunately all the shooting and fighting doesn’t boil down to anything fun or original. The campaign could have been 6 hours long or 20, it is almost impossible to tell with the way everything just seems to blur together. There is a handful of moments that feel fresh and interesting, like the adrenaline infused driving sequences, but they are too far apart and the in-between is filled with generic action segments that mostly feel like a Call of Duty rip-off. It’s a weird situation: everything around the player just screams “action”, but the game just can’t seem to combine it all together to create an experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It simply falls flat every time it tries to be anything more than a generic shooter. Neither the gameplay nor the story provoke any kind of emotion or sense of accomplishment from the very start till the unfulfilling end.

The mindless point-and-shoot might have been a little more enjoyable if the A.I. was better. Both the enemies and the friendlies seem to be very single-minded, and not all that smart. The friendly A.I. is great at spotting threats and gives useful information on the enemy’s location, but not very good at backing you up on the battlefield. The enemies appear to realize that and focus their entire fire power on you, completely ignoring your teammates. Despite all that, Warfighter hardly offers any challenge, since enemies usually just run around from cover to cover, begging to get shot in the face. Whenever the enemy does manage to get the upper hand it is mostly because of cheap shots when they spawn behind you or swarm a room you just entered without backup, because your teammates were stuck way back behind in cover.

So the gameplay leaves something to be desired, but at least the game’s graphics create a sense of intense action around the player. The Frostbite 2 engine does wonders for Medal of Honor: Warfighter, which looks great in its urban and desert settings. The lighting, flying debris, fire and water all mix together to form a real picture of a war-torn environment. The game’s big set-pieces, like a river chase sequence taking place during a typhoon or playing as a lone gunman taking over a cargo ship, are probably only memorable because of their impressive visuals. That’s not to say the visuals of MOH: Warfighter are perfect. There are still some minor bugs and anomalies throughout the game, especially in bright areas, and the game does succumb to the mandatory brown and grey color scheme, but there are enough vibrant blues and greens to make up for it. The visual presentation is Warfighter’s strongest quality, apart from the cut-scenes, which make all the characters look artificial with unbelievable expressions and weird-looking hair. Seriously, the pre-rendered cut-scenes are just awful.

Where the main campaign fails, Warfighter’s multiplayer succeeds and redeems the game from bit a complete letdown.  Without the lack of structure of the campaign, the gameplay feels actually pretty fun (shooting guns in video games usually is). The fire-team system is a welcomed addition to the run-and-gun multiplayer modes, offering a new layer of tactical thinking and teamwork. This new system basically combines all the benefits of co-op play with competitive multiplayer: partners gain bonus points for their partner’s actions, and will even respawn next to him when they die. It feels good to just come back straight into the action, or take sweet revenge on the opponent who took down your partner a second ago. The fire-team system only works if the two players can work together and cover each other’s backs. Teams who aren’t very coordinated, or drift too far apart, are easy prey for other, more cooperative teams.

When starting your multiplayer career, the only class open to you is the Assault class. But after just a few battles you’ll start unlocking more classes and other mandatory unlockables like medals and weapon mods, like skins, parts and attachments. Once you got yourself familiar with all the classes, it’s time to try out some of the more “exotic” modes Warfighter has to offer. Apart from the standard modes available in almost any multiplayer game (like team deathmatch or domination), the new Medal of Honor has two rather exciting modes – Combat Mission and Home Run. Combat Mission is an objective-based mode in which one team must blow up three different objectives, while the other has to prevent them from doing so (usually by killing them all). It is an intense, adrenaline-pumping mode that can provide some truly epic moments. However, Home Run is probably the pinnacle of Warfighter’s multiplayer, in both epic-ness and intensity. It is a twisted take on capture the flag: one team tries to grab a flag deep in enemy territory and the other team defends it. This goes on for 10 rounds with no respawns, and the words “competitive multiplayer” just don’t do it justice.

After all is said and done, Medal of Honor: Warfighter isn’t the best military first-person shooter around. It looks good, sure, but the gameplay and story campaign cannot seem to work together to create something original or fun to play. The multiplayer does save this game from being just another modern shooter in a sea of Call of Duty clones, offering a great competitive experience and a unique take on the buddy-system. With so many other, better, action games out there, Medal of Honor: Warfighter is simply a cause not worth fighting for.

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