It's easy to hate Medal of Honor: Warfighter, EA's 'ultra-authentic' terrorist-hunter starring a global assortment of Tier 1 operators decked in gear so authentic they're hard to tell apart.
This is the publisher's tenth military shooter in five years, and the genre's been tapped. We've spent a generation peering down iron sights, and Warfighter doesn't change the formula: you'll follow-the-leader in sneak missions, dash from exploding bases, control drones, consult shady informants and more than a few times hop on a turret to mop up.
Nothing new, then, but ask yourself one question: is there anything inherently wrong with that?
Comparisons are often drawn between 'CoD clones' and Michael Bay's school of ADHD filmmaking, so let's run with it. Is Transformers wildly unique? Does it push boundaries? No, but it tells a decent story and had more than its fair share of explosions. Simply put, you know what you're getting. That's the ethos here - if you want fresh, play Dishonored.
Of course, since the term 'military shooter' has become almost a dirty word in some industry circles, developers Danger Close opt to justify, or perhaps divert attention from, constant killing with a little melodrama. Cutscenes in between missions detail U.S. Navy SEAL Preacher's dysfunctional relationship with his wife Lena and their daughter Bella, a relationship that is stretched each time he abandons them to join the frontlines.
Lena and Bella are less emotional anchors and more general annoyances. Let's be honest, you're here to fight, to be whisked through a shooting gallery on the end of an AK-47, told where to aim and when, and that's where the more engaging of the two conflicts lie, one set in bombed out Middle Eastern theatres rather than dreary American diners where creepy character models talk about their feelings. There's nothing wrong with a little context, but there's a lot wrong with shoehorning it in.
Fighting wars is what Warfighter does best. While not necessarily more realistic than its contemporaries, featuring knee-sliding, hip-firing and a generous dose of regenerating health, the inconsequentially of battling it out in a war zone gives the action a tone of authenticity. You're capping insurgents in unpopulated village squares, not the Oval Office.
In one memorable section, you'll infiltrate a Somali coastal village lightly smattered with a few drops of rain. The further you push, the more it pours, eventually breaking the levee and spilling out tides which lap your waist. By the level's end, you're forced to extract in a military-issued RHIB motor boat, taking turns to both shoot and drive past rocket-wielding pirates firing from rooftops which happen to be floating off down the street.
Even if on-rails vehicle sections are hardly a new conceit, it's an exhilarating sequence.
Another killer linear section involves you taking a hatchback to the packed roads of Dubai, dodging black-tinted security 4x4's who object to how you've tied up their envoy and stuffed him in the trunk. It's like EA's racer Shift in rush hour, swiping the in-cockpit impact camera and searing sense of speed to violent effect.