Medal Of Honor: Warfighter - EA's war on terror goes global

No beards and no borders...

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Words like 'Respect', 'Brotherhood' and (of course) 'Honor' (yeah, yeah - silly US spelling) are scattered throughout EA's Danger Close studio.

They're emblazoned on the walls, and they're on the lips of everyone you meet. It's easy to play the cynical Brit but, once you meet the Tier 1 operators who supplied Medal of Honor: Warfighter's narrative, all your politics tend to drop away. When someone looks you in the eye and says 'I fight with my mind. My weapons are my will', and genuinely means it, it's hard to not to feel a trace of awe.

The 2010 Medal of Honor reboot wasn't a perfect game, but it did find its niche. While Call of Duty gallivanted ever further into urban war tourism (now igniting everything from the Eiffel Tower to Wall Street) Medal of Honor genuinely managed to make you feel like an elite soldier in a foreign land. It's this feeling of personal combat, stealth tactics and tongue-between-teeth headshot calculations that Warfighter is looking to double-down on. As for where returning characters Mother and Preacher will be fighting, meanwhile, well they're going to get a few passport stamps.

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Warfighter is the first Medal of Honor game not to focus on an identifiable real world battle, instead concentrating on a fictitious Tier 1 lockdown on the creation and distribution of PETN explosives - the untraceable terrorist material that showed up, for example, in shoe-bomber Richard Reid's footwear. "We're going global. We've opened it up. The distribution network of this nasty shit spans the globe," explains Warfighter's Executive Producer Greg Goodrich, before underlining that the atrocities you'll fight to prevent have fact behind their fiction. "Everything in this game. Every mission, every event, every location that we go to has a dotted line to something that has happened... When gamers go online and google these locations, they're going to find a whole host of bad things that happened to good people."

As such, Taskforce Mako will be head-shotting Al-Shabab terrorists in Somalia and (on show in this instance) battling Abu Sayyaf militants in Isabela City in the Philippines. The scene is as graphically impressive as it is devastating: a typhoon has battered the city and separatists have used the chaos caused by flooding to take aid workers hostage - locking themselves up tight in the Capital Building. It's time, then, for Mother, Preacher and the Phillippine Counter Terrorist forces to get out there and do their thing...

The internal EA mantra is that their Battlefield series is all about large-scale multi-soldier and multi-vehicle warfare, while Medal of Honor is up-close and personal. As such, when Mother and Preacher wade through the Capital Building's entrance and guns start blazing, the emphasis on micro-destruction and explosive trickery within your field of vision is more than evident. Chandeliers swing violently, grenades leave a fizz hanging in the air, sheaves of paper are hurled into the air and flutter into the murky flood water. "We thought: 'If there's a gunfight in a confined space with wood panelling and lattice, and it's half-flooded. What's that going to look like?'" explains Goodrich, while lumps of the scenery are splintered and smashed. "It's going to be messy, it's going to be dirty, it's going to be gritty."

PETN hate

Bodies tumble from balconies, portraits are blood-spattered and banisters are shredded as the battle continues upstairs. Throughout it all, meanwhile, a haze of spent cordite begins to begins to waft over the scenery - with added flame and smoke when your character Preacher is hurled backwards by a PETN booby-trap, his arms flailing. "We tried to get this wonderful kind of ballet," adds Goodrich by way of explanation, "between the water shooting up, the wood coming down and just stuff coming at you at all times."

It's all hugely impressive stuff, albeit far distant from the long-distance stealth gameplay of the last game - which we're promised is a massive part of Warfighter too. Another item of note, meanwhile, is that this impressive devastation is being created by the Frostbite 2 engine humming away at breathless 60 frames per second on a nuclear-powered PC rather than console. The console/PC graphics divide shown up by Battlefield 3 is set to rear its head once more.


Back in the Capital Building the heads of the last visible terrorists have been turned to mush (MoH's blood splats are, again, quite triumphant) and it's time to show off Warfighter's new breaching mechanic. Perhaps developed to answer to gamer moans about squad-mates constantly opening doors for you, here you can select whether to toss in a frag, a flash or to simply kick the door in and start spraying bullets. Whatever you choose, you're rewarded with a slow-motion breach - in this case having you hope beyond hope that your payload whistles over the heads of the hostages. Those aid workers might be safe for a few minutes after that, but in truth the evacuation has only just begun...

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