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Published: Thursday, 11/15/2012

Warfighter glitches itself off the battlefield

BY TOM FISHER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a military simulation game that hopes to put players into the ranks of the elite soldiers in the U.S. Armed forces. The game follows two Navy Seals code named Preacher and Stump. Their mission is to stop a terrorist plot to launch attacks on American soil. Their quest will take them to all the hot spots of today's global conflict, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and a slew of others. It will pit them against jihadists and government soldiers.

The arsenal of weaponry at their disposal consists of actual arms used in the field. The scope of EA Games and the developers at Danger Close was pretty simple -- create a special ops military sim that tells the story about the conflicts, both internal and external, that these elite soldiers deal with on a daily basis.

That scope may have been a bit grandiose. For starters, we are not given any real reason to care about these soldiers. We don't know these people by any other names than Preacher and Stump. There's not enough back story on either to tell me why I should do my best to keep him alive. This is all in spite of the fact that the cut-scene animations were particularly well done.

The story primarily unfolds through the animations, and the rendering is fantastic. The character's movements reach near human fluidity and the modeling lacked the odd shapes and sharp corners that have plagued games where the cut-scenes are an afterthought. In Warfighter, they are a heavy focus. Although there were times when I thought the flying ash and glowing embers were a bit much, the scenery was appealing and set the mood for the game. But that doesn't mean that the graphics were without fault. In fact some of the most frustrating parts of the game came with floating debris and disappearing and then reappearing architecture.

While walking down a street, the facade of a nearby structure kept flashing in and out of existence. At another point I exited a building to find the remnants of flags hanging curiously in mid-air. To the side I could also see a rather weighty pile of rubble hovering above a building.

Combat in the game was fairly pleasing. The weapons responded with perfection and a good amount of realism. Although the artificial intelligence of the enemy soldiers wasn't moronic, it wasn't genius either. The AI of my fellow squad members was at times frustrating. At several points in missions, my comrades felt perfectly comfortable planting themselves behind a big piece of debris and exchanging fire with a mirror bad guy that never advances or takes any damage. Meanwhile I was outnumbered and taking heavy fire. Only after I performed feats that would make Rambo swoon does the room clear and we can move on.

The larger boom toys require a couple of tries to master but once you get the feel you can't wait to use them again. Aiming the guns is a mindless task. One button calls up the scope with its own small amount of zoom and most shots will be taken as such. With an added zoom feature it turns almost any newbie into a trained sniper.

Movement in the game was decent. Obstacles weren't hard to navigate and jumping, crouching and crawling were easy. Leaning around cover to pop off a stunning head shot is a favorite move. This also had glitches. Twice I had to stop the game in order to get my sprint ability back. After crouching behind something I stood up only to realize I could no longer sprint. I could barely keep up with the team and could only reset the game to get it to come back. Two other times the game wouldn't come back from a pause. Glitches, gremlins, call it what you want but Warfighter certainly has a litter or two.

One can't help but wonder if Warfighter is really an attempt to deflect some of the love being shown to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. For some reason it feels like they knew they couldn't compete outright with COD but maybe they could create something that would be a good alternative.

But it feels as though certain things were rushed in order to beat the COD team to the store shelves. Though the game is fun, it won't compete on the same level as Black Ops 2. For the Medal of Honor franchise the message is simple: it's time to stop chasing the enemy and focus on building a force of your own.

Contact Tom Fisher at: tfisher@theblade.com.



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