Under the Radar

Medal of Honor: Pay Attention

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All of you with short attention spans need to focus here because we're going to talk about Medal of Honor: Warfighter and get into some gray and not-so-gray areas about war gaming. One of the coolest things we saw at E3 last week was the preview version of the new game but not everyone in the media understands how awesome Warfighter should be when it hits stores in October.

The backstory for you newcomers: Medal of Honor was originally a sort-of-square WWII game inspired by Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. It got a modern Afghanistan-set reboot in 2010. Warfighter continues that theme but adds 12 different Tier One units from 10 different countries to the multiplayer version.

We loved the Official Gameplay trailer we saw a few weeks back, but this editorial from Tom McShea at Gamespot demonstrates that not everyone at E3 was smart enough to follow the plot. Maybe that's not exactly fair: McShea isn't a dumb guy, so let's just say he was manufacturing some controversy to generate some clicks on his website. It turns out that Tom got a little more than he bargained for from Greg Goodrich, Executive Producer of MoH: Warfighter.

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This video is a 21-minute lesson in how to call out a reporter who doesn't even really believe his own "controversial" "argument."

How in the hell are you supposed to make a realistic game something people would want to play? Good job responding, Greg Goodrich. Nice wuss slap you put down on that assclown.

"There is nothing real about a video game. Absolutely nothing," Goodrich says. "Combat is combat. Games are games. And we are an entertainment product."

No shit, Greg. Tom McShea, if real operators wanted to live real life "realistically" they'd burn shit in their back yard underneath a screened window soaked in sweat after eating lousy food and occasionally feel an unforgiving moment of terror, grief and a tragic but incredible and addictive exultation.

"War is hell...why are you trying to push this as fun?" asks Tom. Well, Tom, we're no genius editors with zero combat experience and even less common sense, but we're thinking maybe they're pushing it as fun because it's a game that guys like us want to play. Seriously, McShea you farktard (not our first choice of words). Wash your mouth out with buckshot and leave us alone.

In any case, we had a chance to talk to Greg Goodrich before we watched the tête-á-tête that showed so much McShea ass. Anyway, Greg is a smart, funny guy whose passion for his work really comes through when you're talking to him. He looks a little like the love child of Alan Ruck and that one Viking from 13TH Warrior, only smarter and with good teeth. He's chuffed about Warfighter, and rightfully so.

But we digress...on to the interview.

"With the single-player," Goodrich tells us animatedly (he moves his hands a lot when he talks, which makes it a lot less boring to interview him), "we're still following a lot of the Tier One guys that made up AFO Neptune in the last game. [They are] now part of Task Force Mako."

Hold up...we'll catch you up to speed, but be forewarned we're writing this with the assumption that, 1) you have at least a basic knowledge of the previous Medal of Honor, and 2) you're not some idiot who fails to understand an FPS game cannot be truly realistic if it wants its players to go online more than once or twice.

EA has always tried to take a different tone with Medal of Honor, approaching the entire FPS genre differently than other shoot-em-up carnage fests. Though many current gamers don't know it, Steven Spielberg created the MoH franchise in 1998. (Remember waaaay back then? A guy named Clinton was POTUS and a little company called Google started up...think V.90 modems, Windows 98 and Valve Half-Life.) Spielberg created MoH as the "game" version of Saving Private Ryan and for over a decade Medal of Honor played out stories of WWII and, as Goodrich puts it, "...those core tenets of honor, respect, authenticity and a real reverence for the material. Just basically saying thanks to that generation."

They [EA] wanted to keep to those same principles when they gave the game a little atropine/obidoxime shot in the thigh back in 2010. The new game would bring players into the "current fight" by putting them into the boots (and MC-5s and DSVs and whatever else) of the modern SOF troops typically thought of as JSOC (we won't quibble over the difference between JSOC and USSOCOM, Tier One operators and SOF units, etc.)

Says Greg (who is far more patient with the interruptions of an assclown than we'd be), " We wanted to put players in the boots of these guys and let them get a brief glimpse into the Special Operations community and understand that mindset, understand those sacrifices that are being made and what these guys go through for one another. We had great success...worked with a handful of guys who came in from that community to get the tone right, the battle chatter and weapons systems and everything that we built for that game in the 14km radius of the Chilkat Valley of Afghanistan where that game took place."

Warfighter is a followup that remains focused on the SOF community, but much as the real world, it reflects the global nature of the fight. More specifically, it reflects the international nature of the frequently joint, multi-national units deployed to lay hate on those who so desperately deserve the attention. As mentioned before, it follows many of the former operators of Neptune from the last game. They're now part of TF Mako, following the threat of PETN (remember pentaerythritol trinitrate, the stuff used by that goofy looking bastard that tried to take down a plane with his shoe?) Again, the game reflects reality and approaches authenticity without claiming to be truly realistic (that's a key point, and if it seems we're holding a grudge against McShea, we are.)

Goodrich tells us Warfighter will focus on that narrative of shutting that network down, of eliminating the threat, but also on the personal sacrifices the operators make (which is going to be no small challenge to pull off). "If Medal of Honor 2010 was about what those guys fought for on that mountain, this game is about what those guys fight for at home. We pay tribute and are also honoring the sacrifices these families make. These guys in the Special Operations community are deployed 300 days out of the year. When they're not deployed, they're in training and that takes a toll on the family life. We're shining a light on that and paying tribute to that."

Warfighter's multiplayer mode features operators from around the globe - 12 different units from 10 different countries. This will allow the players who want to be D-boys to play as D-boys, or to take a crack at playing a KSK shooter. This is not a bad idea, as anyone who has deployed with the Germans are aware they almost always have better beer and coffee than anyone else in the same hemisphere. There are a few questions we'd like to clear up, such as what exactly the USA 'OGA' unit is (CIA SAD?) and why they chose Russkies over, say, Brit SBS shooters, or even Carabinieri GIS, and why we have SEALs again instead of MARSOC boys...though as long as we aren't subjected to listening to GIGN or anyone eating cheese and speaking surrender we won't complain too much.

According to the game's FAQ section, these are the units you can play (good call on GROM and JTF-2, EA Games!):

  • SEAL (USA)
  • GROM (Poland)
  • SFOD-D (USA)
  • SAS (UK)
  • JTF-2 (Canada)
  • OGA (USA)
  • FSK/HJK (Norway)
  • S SOG (Sweden)
  • SASR (Australia)
  • ROKN UDT (South Korea)
  • KSK (Germany)
  • SPETZNAS GRUPPA ALFA (Russia)
"[We're] giving gamers a chance to feel that national pride in a first-person shooter," Goodrich says. "We see it in FIFA and we see it in a lot of other games where players can play for the home team and suit up and wave that flag and experience national pride. We wanted to give that to gamers, our fans, in a first-person shooter. If I'm a kid growing up in Poland, I don't grow up dreaming of becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL, I grow up wanting to be a GROM commando. Let's give them that opportunity to play a GROM commando. It's the same in Britain with the SAS and the Australian SASR, the KSK, the Jegers from Norway and the whole host of these units a player can focus on. Honor, respect, brotherhood: those aren't American-owned traits, those are warrior traits and we wanted to pay tribute to that."

So we're clear, and by no means to hate on NSW, not all us kids in the United States grow up wanting to be a SEAL. Some of us want to be Recon, a Green Beret or a JTAC (or the Chang Sing and/or Wing Kong for that matter). It's probably too much to hope we lose the uncomfortable emphasis on frogmen, but what the hell. They're certifiable bad asses so it works.

Many of you reading this are already aware EA has been working with a couple dozen "product partners" like LBT, Kaenon Sunglasses, McMillan Rifles and the like. They're letting on slowly as the game draws nearer, though many players have already made extensive conjectured lists based on what is seen in the previews (a testimony to the good graphics and high quality visual aspects of the game).

"We've asked every one of these partners that we're working with to keep our gear and our weapon systems and our equipment authentic to partner with us in giving back in a charitable way to two foundations that are very, very dear to us: the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the Navy SEAL Foundation. They've all jumped in and, along with proceeds from the game, along with special items that we'll be doing directly with these guys, the morale patches you may have seen, 100% of the proceeds go to those two funds plus the Tommy V Challenge, a great foundation that also gives back to those families in need."

Overall, it was a great opportunity to meet with Mr. Goodrich and to get some background info on the game. We enjoyed it. Greg must have still been pretty pumped afterward too.  As we were packing up, he could contain himself no longer and stood up to begin pacing. As we walked out the door he threw up a fist, howling "Hakkaa päälle!"  There may have been more but we were a little freaked out, so we left.

That last bit was complete bullshit. We couldn't think of a way to wrap the interview up in some clever way, but we'd like to think he'd have yelled it if he'd thought of it.  

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