I've played countless first person shooters over the years, and in nearly all cases, they have maintained the element of deliberate fantasy. When I say fantasy, I mean that the story lines, characters, and language have always been so far disconnected from reality, it's hard to not mistake the title for a game.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter tries to take a different path by claiming to have stories pulled from the headlines and mimicking events that may actually be happening overseas. Today we give the latest (last?) version of the Medal of Honor series a spin in stereoscopic 3D!
Having completed the game and reviewed its Wikipedia overview, I think it's best I just summarise it as finding and killing terrorists. The story flips between game characters who are all "Tier One Operators" or special forces operatives that deal with unconventional warfare. The backdrops for the game include Bosnia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Somalia.
The biggest problem I had with Warfighter happens at the very beginning where the player is a terrorist in training. Prodded through a wooden recreation of a passenger airplane, your job is to shoot targets and complete the obstacle course as quickly as possible. The faster and more accurately you can do this, the better your score. This first level really bothered me because it forces the gamer to do things they really have no business doing. What's next: crashing the plane? I see this as a slippery slope; even for mature rated home entertainment.
Fortunately this sequence isn't a precursor for the entire game, and the remaining story revolves around likeable people trying to do honorable things. With each scene, the game occasionally adds a credit that it's based on true world happenings. I was hoping I could find some references in Wikipedia or something to trace these sequences to real life, but I couldn't find any. It's obviously based on something because the consulting Navy SEALS are facing disciplinary action for sharing details and weaponry specs without clearing it with the US government first.
While the story got horribly panned by the critics, I honestly felt for some of the characters. With big-budget style, they really tried to illustrate that even off the battlefield, the stresses of showing up to this kind of work is just as high in the family home as it is on the battlefield. I can't think of any other games that have attempted this before. Some of the dialogue was a bit campy for my taste, but most of it seemed believable enough.
Warfighter was easily one of the most attractive games I've played to date. Based on the Frostbite 2 game engine, no detail was left unturned, and while critics were complaining about the game play, I think they did some innovative stuff.
First, they have regular vehicle rides throughout the game. Not just the standard drive and find, mind you. In this case, they had sections where you were the one being chased, and you stressfully had to play hide and seek until you found an escape route.
As a first person shooter, they did something I hadn't seen before with gun scopes. Normally, you have one zoom range, or you use a scroll wheel to slide from one range to the next. In this case, perhaps mimicking an actual gun, you change gun lenses depending on the situation as you play the game. It's not a major innovation, it's just different from anything I've seen before. There are also sequences where you use a remote control robot to attack encampments and explore territory you can't by foot.
The best and most stressful part of the game is when your character is stripped of his weaponry, and you have to gradually re-arm yourself and make your way from the belly of a cargo ship to the bridge. The environments and game play were nerve wrecking to say the least, and was easily the highlight of MOH.
The biggest problem with Warfighter is that after you've seen one terrorist, you've seen them all. There isn't much in the way of enemy diversity or ability, and you don't really get better or more interesting weapons as you progress. The standard gun you are provided with is easily the best, and you usually only pick things up when you have no choice. Ammo is easy to find because all you have to do is tap a squad mate for a quick refill, and you have a squad for most of the game.
To keep things interesting, Medal of Honor's solution was to make the environment the enemy. For example, in dark areas, enemies can flash blinding lights at you making it hard to aim. They can jump from the ceiling without warning. You might even break down a door only to find a pit on the other side. Or, maybe the lights go out. Lots of neat ideas to make otherwise predictable enemies a lot more dangerous.
Now the important part. How was Medal of Honor: Warfighter in stereoscopic 3D?
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Even though Warfighter is based on the Frostbite 2 game engine, it doesn't have stereoscopic 3D support built into it like Battlefield 3 does, so a good S-3D driver is necessary to play this game.
DDD's results border on excellent. First, you have the flexibility to achieve a combined depth and pop-out effect. You can maximize all settings, and I had difficulty finding visual anomalies.
The only caveats with the game are the gun scopes. It's not an anomaly, but the game would be a lot more comfortable to play if the scopes were rendered in mono instead of stereoscopic 3D or in doubled form. I recommend playing with the dominant eye method, though the laser sight will still work. The environments are very rich in 3D, and gamers won't be disappointed.
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Medal of Honor: Warfighter is erroneously listed as a supported game, and Nvidia confirmed that 3D support was locked out by the request of the game developer because the visual result wasn't to their satisfaction. When trying to play the game, the driver will not inject and will not have any stereoscopic 3D functionality.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is easily an underrated game that got unfairly panned by the critics. The only real difference between Medal of Honor and the latest rounds of the Call of Duty franchise is that while COD has sequences of crude violence for violence's sake, MOH tries to create a semblance of realism and consequences, and I think the graphics are better too. Unfortunately, Warfighter took it too far in some instances, and maybe it's the political realism (or at least the purported realism) that created the negativity amongst game reviewers. We'll never know for sure.
Would I recommend it?
It really turned out to be a very good game in stereoscopic 3D with the DDD drivers. The politics of it are a personal choice, but it was entertaining enough for me to play from beginning to end, and I did feel for the characters. Definitely not recommended for kids!