There's been a lotta hype about the upcoming Medal of Honor: Warfighter game (available October 23rd), and rightly so. It really does look like it's going to be a visually stunning game. Until technology advances to the point a game can afflict your other senses, with the grit of sand in your rack to the smell of burn-shitter smoke and that piquant mix of JP8 and diesel, then visuals are all we'll have. Frostbite 2 damn sure delivers on that score.
We liked Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, but this game may be the best to date.
However, although "realism" is a term frequently bandied about in gamer circles, no game is truly realistic, not in any of the primary areas that realism and verisimilitude (grunts: verisimilitude). We rate games as realistic in combat action (the fighting, the reloads, the movement), load-out (gear used by characters and OPFOR, vehicles, etc.) and the actual theme of the game (missions, campaign plot and whatnot).
If a game was combat realistic, you'd have to go buy a whole new game every time you get smoked or blown up instead of visiting the reload screen. However, we've discussed this before and will spare you another rant directed at the idiots who want a more "authentic" combat experience but we will admit we appreciate Danger Close's attention to detail.
Here's an excerpt to that effect from a recent article by Lee Williams from GameJar:
"...The attention to detail doesn’t stop there though, everything down to the way the guns reload have been put under the microscope by both the developers and many real world Tier One operatives working on the game. While we were being show our gameplay presentation Richard Farrelly (Senior Creative Director) paused to tell us how, when they were building this particular section, one of the Tier One guys was getting quite aggitated [sic] with the game because it wasn’t reloading fast enough (we’ve all been there).MoH Warfighter appears to be doing things right when it comes to load-out as well. The list of what characters are carrying by way of load-out reads like a who's-who of tactical couture, and most of it is pretty accurate, though we'd have to disagree with some of it...like the assertion that LBT is the finest tactical gear on the planet and the go-to choice for Tier 1 operators. That sounds more like LBT ponied up more advertising dollars than anyone else...OR maybe Danger Close never heard of Original SOE Gear, Tactical Tailor, High Speed Gear Inc. etc.
When the lead designer asked what the problem was, said operative told him that it was bullshit and that he could reload that gun faster than the game was showing. A bit of a discussion ensued where the developer explained to him how they test and time all these things, but the operative wasn’t having any of it. The developer then challenged him to do it down in the mo-cap studio and sure as hell he did it quicker – the reloading of that gun is now motion captured from that soldier’s movements..."
Can't argue with the LaRue rifle choice of course. Josh is a stud and his rifles are bad ass.
Here's a good graphic of what the guys in the game are carrying, courtesy of Tactical Fanboy and Off Duty Gamers. You'll note there is no wank sock visible, nor any Copenhagen, Skoal, cigarettes, powdered Rip-Its, Red Bull or Kill Cliff. Try not to focus on that.
Off Duty Gamers has a sweet new interactive picture up on their website. It takes the cover of Medal of Honor Warfighter and names off the kit he's using. It's a slider bar, from right to left, uncovering everything from his optics to the gloves he's wearing. Pretty bitchin', and as you might expect the cost of his loadout is way more than I can afford. Check it out.
Again, kudos to the game for most of their gear selection.
Now, the last thing that can may be rated for realism, the way we figure it, is campaign and theme. This is where things get tricky, because the two sides of a game, campaign and multi-player, often attract and keep different sorts of players. (Note: our opinion in this matter is the one that counts, it's our blog post: if you don't like it, write your own article. Hippie.) It's too early to tell how the Warfighter missions are going to go, though the periodic write-ups of real world opponents (like al-shabaab) is a nice touch and makes us think campaign will be a good one.
We don't think things should go overboard, though, and that same article by Williams (mentioned above) makes us wonder about it. He says,
"Something that’s true of pretty much all shooters out there at the moment, even your favourite one, is that it’s difficult to really care about any of the characters. There’s very much a disconnection between the gamer and the charecter [sic]...There was a point a few years ago where the first-person shooter’s focus shifted; they were no longer about telling a story or reliving historical events. They became about a multiplayer experience with a campaign tacked on – Medal of Honor: Warfighter is looking like it might just be the one to change that...Danger Close really want to focus on the human side war; they want Warfighter to become just as much about (if not more so) the people you play the game as, and avoid the over the top Micheal Bay-like story. The missions in Warfighter are all based on real world and quite recent events too – obviously some events have been changed slightly and all of these seperate missions will be tied together by an over-arching story, but there is truth to it all, and just knowing that makes me feel like Warfighter could be the FPS we’ll start to care about..."Care about it? Williams has some great points, but the idea of a FPS game where we care about the character seems a bit iffy. Is he going to get a divorce halfway through the game or find out his girlfriend is banging some clown that works off base? Are we going to watch him stand in line at the MWR tent having to jockey with Fobbits for his time on the phones? We're not trying to be flippant, be we play fps games to break things, kill people and blow shit up. If we wanted the sort of realism that allowed us to care about the protagonist in the game we'd go hang out with our friends and get drunk at the VFW or try to give a f&#& at the mandatory post-deployment counseling sessions.
Realism in the way the game plays out is going to be impossible to portray in a successful game and still entertain readers. Here are a couple of videos that really address the reality of how things go on the modern battlefield (warning: adult language). One for the snake-eaters, one for the poor bastards working in line units.
Now, before you tell us the war in Afghanistan isn't like this, then answer us this: why are there guys in a COP on a mountainside going a month without a shower and eating frozen corndogs (exclusively) for a week straight when fifty miles away they're having surf & turf every Friday night on the FOB, eleven years into a war? Why are they running in formation with reflective belts on, in a war zone? Why are morale snipers still allowed to steal the oxygen of legitimate warfighters, and why in the name of Chesty Puller's Magnificent Square Jaw are they running PT formations in reflective clothing in a combat zone?
Let's not worry so much about realism and caring about the characters. This isn't a chick flick. It's called Warfighter. Just enjoy a bad ass game.
Hope you're not butt hurt about anything we said, but you'll either get over it or you won't.