Review – Medal of Honor Warfighter – PC

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a videogame review, so here’s one. I’ve always enjoyed military shooters, though my enjoyment of campaigns in these games has been steadily declining since CoD4: Modern Warfare (which I enjoyed a great deal) as Infinity Ward and all of their competitors went further and further down the “cinematic experience” rabbit hole at the expense of gameplay and player freedom. Even with this, I managed to enjoy both Battlefield Bad Company 1 and 2’s SP-offerings as well as Black Ops 1. I even played through the reboot of Medal of Honor and thought it was decent if not outstanding in any way. Which brings us to the point of this post.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter has copped a lot of flak for being terrible and a huge disappointment to EA and the public. With this knowledge I picked up the PC version of the game for about 5 bucks from an online UK retailer’s sale. A couple of weeks after it arrived, I decided to install it to my Origin Library and then decided to play it – given the usual 4? 6? 8? hour campaign length these things have, it shouldn’t take too long to zip through it, surely? Then I can play with the MP for a couple of days before getting bored and shelving it to go back to Battlefield 3 or 4 (which is a whole different set of bugs). Despite the advertisements showing that the MP allows me to play as the SASR, I held out quite easily from buying it at launch, given the huge backlog of games I have to play.

The game does *look* good.

Story-wise, the game tries to tell the story of both shooting people in the face as well as a bit of a reflection of the human costs of this sort of thing on the lives and families of the operators who live it. Unfortunately, the story (what I’ve seen of it) is told with all of the subtlety and interest of a painfully contrived soap opera. Though, I admittedly didn’t get all that far in.

Gameplay-wise, the graphics look really nice with highly detailed player and NPC models. Good looking scenery and reasonably atmospheric locales.

Unfortunately, the game crashes like a motherfucker. Right after installing it, I went to tweak the graphical settings, and the game died on me. It took about 45 minutes of poking around the web to discover that the high graphics settings appear to actually kill the game. That’s right. The game can’t handle it’s own graphical settings. Mind you, this isn’t at launch, when we’re now expected to sit through buggy software in anticipation of the miracle patch – but 15 months after release. Despite the game’s crash and burn status once it hit retail, you’d imagine that huge, gamebreaking issues like this would have been fixed, but apparently not. So after fixing that, I got to play through.

So far, so Modern FPS.

The “how to play” tutorial puts you into the shoes of a Taliban/Al-Qaeda recruit, who runs through a mock-up aircraft as the training segment as an Imam of some description yells at you in Arabic . This was a little bit interesting, and I guess makes sense as you don’t expect that veteran DEVGRU operators would need to go through any of that stuff with instructions.

There seems to be an excited emphasis on door breaching, with each breach getting overly-excited about you getting four headshots to unlock the next exciting door breach animation. So far I’ve gone from boots, to tomahawk to crowbar. Next, I unlock the shotgun. I’m so excited!

I’m using this image of a man with a gun to break up my wall of text.

I quickly found that unlike in other FPS games, including the previous instalment in this series, you can’t scroll through picked-up weapons. Obviously another bug rather than design, but I tried to swap out my pistol for an AK, and later, a PKM, and it refused to let me scroll though my weapons – only allowing (firstly) the AK and my pistol (which I had tried to replace) and later on, my LaRue OBR and pistol, without allowing me to use the PKM that I was carrying around.

So anyway, after a cinematic bit involving a train station in Madrid, the game shit itself again, then sort-of recovered, and resumed with the next cutscene, except that when it “recovered”, the game was now running in 480×720 (as opposed to 1920×1080) and attempts to reset the graphic settings from ingame didn’t work – necessitating a quit out which turned into yet another crash. Rebooting and reloading left it again at 720, though without the crash..

After three or four tries, I got around this by manually editing one of the game’s profiles. Credit to swagrhino on the EA answer forums for the temporary fix.

editing MyDocuments\MOHW\settings PROF_SAVE_profile

Change the values of the following keys

GstRender.MotionBlurEnabled 1
GstRender.OverallGraphicsQuality 3
GstRender.ResolutionScale 5
GstRender.ShaderQuality 2.0000

Still, this continued to result in the same repeated crash/graphic reset to 480p for the car chase scene, which I eventually got around by playing it in a 480p-sized window in the middle of my monitor. When I got to the next walking-around-and-shooting mission, in the Philippines, I set the graphics back to 1080 and went with lower-level arthoscopic filtering (2x instead of 3x, which is how I ran the game initially) and a lower refresh rate 27.9fps instead of the 60fps I used earlier – in the hope that it would run with more stability. The result? Gameplay of about 3fps with massive stuttering. So I turned it off.

Since trying the above yet again to reset the graphics, followed by manually setting them to realistic levels (that I used for this game initially, and use for BF3 et al), the game once again shit itself and crashed out. At this point, I give up.

Despite impressive visuals, this is a BAD game. DO NOT purchase it. Even for a fiver.

So my review ends thus:

Shooting seemed okay, story bland but I’m sure you could sleepwalk through it. Super-linear non-interactive set-piece-oriented FPS gameplay, which I don’t especially enjoy. The changes in locale looked promising but I never got to play them because the game is so unstable. Given my experience with the game (I’ve spent more time trying to get it to work than actually playing it – quite literally!)

Verdict – avoid at all costs. This game deserved to fail, and fail hard. Which is what it did. If EA had given the devs the opportunity to finish the game, it might well have been fun. Instead it serves as yet another example of how Electronic Arts continually pushes unfinished and/or broken games out the door (along with BF3, BF4, SimCity, et al) which may never be fixed or patched to a properly working state. Like this one.