Military shooters are all the rage at the moment and Warfighter has moved away from World War settings, much as its competitors have, and thrown its lot in with modern day combat. It attempts to differentiate itself from the obvious competition by attempting to be as realistic as possible, with accurate weapons, missions based on actual events, and less gung ho action to represent the fact that every operation that the army takes on isn’t down to Mr Smith, the man who can sort out all wounds by standing behind cover for a bit. Drudgery and repetition may indeed be an everyday part of a Special Operatives day job but this doesn’t mean it makes a good game.
The campaign is hideously short, one of the missions literally requires you to take one shot and it ends, and is a direct sequel from the 2010 game. You bounce between ‘Preacher’ and ‘Stump’, with only one of the main ‘characters’, if faceless mercs equals character development, given any kind of a back-story. The whole story is instantly forgettable and it seems that the campaign feels like a glorified tourist trip around the Middle East. Warfighter attempts to appear more relevant by including pirates (not the Peter Pan type) as enemies in the first few missions, but it swiftly turns into ‘baddies from the Middle East’ very quickly, making it very generic. It seems every military shooter decides that it wants to pull on your heart strings whilst you kill anyone in your path, but this is perhaps the only time in recent memory it feels so forced. Preacher gets a family that he is away from constantly , but, frankly, you just don’t care; Warfighters attempt at giving credit and putting faith into the military worldwide is admirable but falls flat on its face as you feel little to no empathy to anyone you meet along the way. This is made especially bad as the whole experience is laden with ‘US is best, shut up otherwise’ that the constant babble of patriotism becomes laughable.
Campaign woes continue by the bucket load, which is such a shame as one or two of the missions are as good, if not better, than what this year’s CoD and Battlefield are offering. Weapons feel like peashooters, and there really isn’t any reason to ever change your weapon from the ones you start the mission with; one of them almost always has infinite ammo and the other can be continually refilled by simply hitting X near one of your allies. Precision is never needed in combat, something which the military prides itself on, as ammo is so plentiful that you never have to worry about anything other than pray and spraying. Breaching and clearing rooms is a huge facet of the gameplay, and Warfighter allows you to pick and choose how you go about this, rewarding you with further choices the more headshots you get during each breach. Although satisfying at times, the eight or so that you get to choose from, including a tomahawk and a shotgun, seem to make little difference at all on how much time you get during said breach, and the whole level up system feels like such a wasted opportunity it’s unbelievable.
For a series that is trying very hard to be a better mans COD, it is baffling that so much of it is directly borrowed. Watching the guy you have been on every mission with thus far get his head blown off after being captured has already been done in the first Black Ops, with far more emotional impact. Sniper missions have also been put in place, but with a much further emphasis on wind speed and the height of the shot, which is admirable but feels so tacked on; aside from the one or two set pieces where sniping is a must, using the same gun in the rest of the campaign is simply point and shoot. That’s not a problem as such, but Warfighter never really decides whether it wants to be that realistic or not.
Things do tend to pick up slightly online, but not by much. Allowing you to identify with certain countries makes fighting online a little more than just personal glory. There is a huge amount of customisation available as you level up but Warfighter doesn’t tend to do anything new or bold. Thatsnot to say that its alone in this respect, the same can be levelled at CoD and Battlefield, but the level of polish, excitement, much bigger communities and more satisfying game play mean that the same formula used can achieve a much better end product; something which Warfighter just doesn’t achieve.
The one thing that Warfighter does have going for is its graphics; the Frostbite 2 engine looks absolutely magnificent throughout every location that you head to. Explosions still tend to be a bit on the artificial side but, aside from ramping up a PC or playing Halo 4, this is perhaps the nearest you are going to get to amazing graphics in a military esque shooter for a while now. FMV’s vary from stellar to very odd, with the main characters child managing to look like a cross between an Oompa Loompa and a monkey ; another nail in the coffin for the realism factor.
All in all, Warfighter is one big fat letdown. It’s perfectly playable but nothing more. It doesn’t get the blood pumping, gunplay is dull and unsatisfying, the choreography of every mission is laughable even compared to CoD, and the vague attempts at innovation (robots, realism) are few ,far between or have been made a complete hash of . Give it a rent to experience a slightly different take on multiplayer, and for the one or two missions that highlight what could have been and show the full extent of the Frostbite engine, otherwise stick to more established shooters that follow modern warfare.