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E3 2012: Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s beautiful carnage

Tier-1 operating got a big facelift in the last two years. Medal of Honor: Warfighter follows up on the 2010 reboot with a new engine, a new (and fictional) conflict, and lots of bad people to shoot. So a few familiar elements return, too.

Franchise lead Greg Goodrich took the stage to announce “We’re goin’ global.” Instead of a single-location return to the Iraq War, Warfighter jumps around the planet. “Every single mission has a dotted line to a real-world hotspot,” according to Goodrich.

A ten-minute campaign demo took the war to Somalia, with a marine assault on an entrenched pirate hideout that went seriously wrong in record time. For starters, the air support had to retreat under rocket fire. Then a sniper bullet nails you right in the chest, kicking you back into the beach’s shallow water. Luckily, your armor took it. Unluckily, there’s plenty more where that came from. Your team moves up under the broken remains of a wharf that’s more obstacle than cover while more Somalis rip it apart.

And it all looks spectacular. Medal of Honor now runs on Frostbyte 2.0, the same engine that made Battlefield 3 so gorgeous. Particles hang in the air, debris flies through the air, and all of it happens around you with beautifully devastating precision.

Once the operators reach the broken coastal city, add black smoke to that list. An arc-menu popped up to direct a teammate to breach a door, leading to a Call-of-Duty-like slow-motion breach, followed by the always entertaining target-painting-a-building sub-mission. One high-impact detonation later, it’s time to send in the drone.

Here again, FrostByte 2.0 showed off some fun lighting effects, with Somali flashlights in the darkness providing handy direction on where to send your far superior firepower. Once back out in the open, however, the bot linked up with friendlies getting torn apart by RPG fire, and those projectiles –  fired from enemies hidden in the surrounding buildings — swiftly took the drone’s advantages away. After evening the odds a bit, one last rocket knocked it out for good.

Campaign demo done, Goodrich shifted to the game’s online mode, Global Warfighter. “No shooter is complete without a great multiplayer,” he said, and Medal of Honor’s new version (built by an in-house team at EA’s Danger Close studio, replacing DICE). Teams will take on the roles of special forces units from around the world, including Afghani Grom fighters, SEALs, British SAS, Delta Force (SFOD-D), and Russian Spetsnaz.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter releases on October 23 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Wii U.


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