As the first Frostbite 2.0-powered first-person shooter to launch since last year’s Battlefield 3, the pressure to deliver must weigh heavy on the shoulders of Danger Close’s creative director Rich Farrelly and his team.
Not only must Medal of Honor surpass Battlefield 3 – as befitting a game released a whole year afterwards – but it must walk its own path and steer clear of becoming little more than a BF3 expansion pack in a full priced-release’s clothing.
In the footage I’m witness to there certainly doesn’t appear to be too much of a difference between Warfighter and BF3, superficially at least. Indeed, Farrelly’s confirmation that the recommended specs of the PC release won’t differ too far from BF3’s, might a blessing in disguise for those of us who spent big on upgrades to get the most out of BF3 just seven short months ago, but is perhaps more symptomatic of EA’s reluctance to have the game’s performance diverge even further across home console and PC versions.
Engine updates or not Warfighter still impresses, perhaps not quite with the visceral punch to the jaw that BF3 did, but as I’m taken through a raid upon a terrorist faction in the Philippines’ Isabela City, I’m never far from the edge of my seat.
Having seemingly been inundated with water the city is a vision of shimmering, undulating water, which at first leads me to believe that hostilities are going on within a sinking ship. As the US Marines fight their way through what turns out to be a hotel lobby, the usual Frostbite 2.0 effects are all present and correct, with objects shattering and papers flying in exactly the same way, a closer look does however reveal a few differences in terms of approach.
Aiming down your gun’s sights for example is now a more thoughtful process with Danger Close having actually brought in a former US Armed Forces veteran, Tyler Grey, to ensure absolute authenticity. As such, guns can be fired from multiple positions so that, for example, the player needn’t raise the gun’s sights to eye level when taking on nearby combatants – something Grey is quick to point out makes no sense in the intense atmosphere of battle.
Similarly, players will now have a contextual choice when it comes to door breaches, with flash bangs, C4 and frag grenade options all available depending on the type of door standing in your team’s way and your choice directly affecting how any troops housed within the breached room react. Deploying flash bangs triggering a slow motion effect that BF3 players will once more find instantly familiar.
The quest for authenticity has influenced the game’s approach to narrative too, with former Tier 1 operatives being recruited to pen the script which is based around real world incursions – a first for the series.
Preacher makes a reappearance, as troubled and messed up a character as ever, but as Grey explains the studio have ‘gone all out to show the soldiers’ point of view,’ with a particular focus on just how traumatic being out of contact with friends and family for 300 day stretches can be.
‘There should be context, there should be balance,’ he says. ‘There’s a cost, if you don’t talk about that then it filters down to the younger generation. In real life it’s not necessarily all fun and games and it was important that Warfighter doesn’t gloss over such issues.’
Free from such moral constraints the multiplayer side of Warfighter is solely concerned with fun. Farrelly able to reveal a ‘blue versus blue’ mode as he puts it, which will allow encounters between the elite of the elite to be played out. Expect SAS, Navy Seal and various other comparable outfits from around the world to make the cut, as Danger Close attempt to channel some of the inter-country rivalries which the likes of FIFA 12 inspire.
Worth the wait? We’ve made it this far without mentioning that other FPS set for release in the same window as Warfighter, namely Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Without doubt EA’s hype machine will have kicked in by then to raise Warfighter’s profile, and needless to say, the Frostbite engine is still looking solid; the question which remains however is can this third franchise muscle in on territory already owned by Call of Duty and Battlefield – Danger Close certainly have their work cut out.
For: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Danger Close
When? 25 October 2012