Medal of Honor: Warfighter (Credit: EA)Electronic Arts has been building up this year's Medal of Honor: Warfighter as not only a game that would finally unseat Call of Duty from its king-of-the-hill position, but as one that would strike an emotional chord with players.
Judging by the critical reception the game is getting, however, Call of Duty has nothing to worry about -- and the only emotion players are feeling is a sense of disappointment.
Medal of Honor was slated to be one of the year's biggest games, but EA curiously didn't ship review copies out until the day the game hit shelves. That's equivalent to a movie studio not holding any screenings for critics -- a rarity -- and usually represents a lack of faith in the product. Even more troubling was a massive Day One patch that addressed a horde of odd bugs.
Turns out they didn't fix enough. Critics are savaging the game, which currently boasts a Metacritic average of just 48. Aside from the game's great graphics (courtesy of the same Frostbite engine that powered last year's critically-acclaimed Battlefield 3), this soldier is looking quite haggard.
An emotional story where game characters not only have to deal with the stress on the battlefield, but the effect that has on their families at home? It doesn't work.
"EA and developer Danger Close Games touted their pursuit of humanizing the soldiers — showing us how these Tier 1 Operators balance their lives with one of the most intense jobs on the planet. After playing through Medal of Honor: Warfighter's campaign, it's clear Danger Close failed in its objective," says Joystiq's David Hinkle in a 2/5 review.
New gameplay elements that will breath life into the oversaturated military shooter genre? Not so much.
Destructoid notes the game "takes the uniformity of the military FPS to its logical, strained conclusion. In both its single-player campaign and competitive online mode, it is a "Who's Who" of every overplayed stereotype the genre has to offer."
"Crossing off an invisible checklist of must-have features, Warfighter plays it absolutely safe, doing very little to rock the boat, but even less to capture the imagination. … Warfighter encapsulates everything wrong with the annual big budget shooter industry," complains writer Jim Sterling, who gives it a 5/10.
Polygon is even harsher in its criticism. Reviewer Arthus Gies believes the game "fails in almost every regard. … It feels thrown together, with little consideration for why its parts should fit." His score? A dismal 4.5/10.
Usually, at this point in a review roundup, we'd try to offer some glimmer of hope for fans, but there really isn't any review that is glowing on anything besides the game's graphics. MTV, in fact, is about as cheery as it gets.
"What sums up Medal of Honor: Warfighter is that it's a game you can play. It's not terrible by any stretch but it's not really all that great, either," the site writes. "At least you'll get that Battlefield 4 Beta access for next year…"
So the best thing about Warfighter is that it gives you access to another game? War is hell, people.