Medal of Honor Warfighter – hands on

We get to grips with two single player missions from EA’s brutal upcoming first person shooter

Medal of Honor Warfighter is shaping up to be the long-running series’ best entry in a long time. Using Battlefield 3’s fantastic Frostbite 2 engine and with a plot direct from the brains of real life special forces troops, it aims to bring a little more realism to the over-stocked world of military first-person shooters.

And yesterday we had a chance to get some extensive hands-on time with the game’s single player campaign, playing through a pair of very different missions in the PC version of the game (which, if you’re interested, we opted to play with an Xbox 360 pad rather than the keyboard-and-mouse combo).

The first level is a raid on a Somali pirate enclave (you might have seen a small part of it live demoed during EA’s E3 press conference back in June), in which you and your Tier 1 squadmates disembark from small boats before making your way up a beach under heavy fire. We immediately noticed the game’s destruction simulation at work as the jetty we were seeking cover underneath began to splinter and crack as bullets tore through it. Using our knife, we smashed out a hole and crawled through on our belly to get closer to the enemy, pausing occasionally to look through the red dot sight and cap the odd pirate.

One interesting thing about Warfighter is that headshots earn you advantages later. Having racked up a few of these in our slog up the beach, we finally got inside the base and came to a door that had to be breached: this can be done in various ways, depending on the number of headshots you’ve accrued. Managed none? Then you’re left with a simple kick-and-flashbang. We had enough for our buddy to bash off the door handle with a handaxe before we busted in and laid the inhabitants to waste in slo-mo style.

Then, with our crew pinned down by a sniper in a large building across the street, we pulled out some kind of laser designator and called in an artillery strike, levelling the entire structure and bathing everything in a cloud of dust. Quicker than shooting him, we guess.

After sending a gun-toting, player-controlled tracked robot into the remains of the building to clear out any remaining enemies, it emerged in the middle of a firefight between fellow soldiers and RPG-wielding pirates, who manage to destroy it eventually.

Whipping back to our soldier, we make our way to the street and take out the remaining troops, along with a couple of armed trucks that appear. Then we clear another building and reach the climax of the level, in which we set up a table by a window, grab a sniper rifle and start capping RPG-toting bandits in a distant building, allowing our helicopters to come in and clear out the rest. The sniping mechanic here is a little different from most FPS games, as you have to take distance into account, shooting above targets to allow for bullet drop.

The second level is a very different prospect: it’s all driving, with us chasing a sniper through the streets of Pakistani capital Karachi. While it’s a fairly on-rails section – i.e. we feel like you can’t catch up with the target until a certain point – it’s an exciting sequence, with lots of breakable scenery and very little room for error as you try to keep up along main roads, back alleys, muddy slum pathways and a crowded marketplace. The sound effects add a huge amount here, from the chatter as your eye in the sky gives you advice to the squawking of chickens as they bounce off your windscreen.

Medal of Honor Warfighter hits the shops on 26 October, and will be available on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. While the last few MoH games have left us a bit cold, this one we’re genuinely excited about – the sheer carnage and mayhem in the firefights, the headshot incentives and the excellent audio effects should make it a worthy adversary to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

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