I have a bunch of notes in front of me, and many thoughts swimming in my brain having completed the single player campaign in both Call Of Duty: Black Ops II and Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Essentially however the games mirror each other in many aspects, as you would expect, and that manifests itself at the highest level of mission quality – COD: BOII starts woefully but finishes strong, whilst the quality of MOH:W levels drops off as time progresses through the campaign.
Black Ops II continues and fleshes out the tale of back and forth revenge between the US Special Forces and the Nicaraguan narco-terrorist Raul Menendez, who is still pretty pissed off about the fate of his sister in a burning building.
The game missions bounce between past events involving Alex Mason battling Menendez’s global arms shipping and drug running interests and the current setting (in 2025) with Mason’s son David who is trying to tie together the fate of his father, his Black Ops partner Frank Woods and the link with Menendez.
Furthermore, the pacing feels more balanced, this is not a game turned up to eleven all the time. Whilst there is plenty of urging forward, and ways to ‘game’ the geographic based trigger points of some missions, in general developer Treyarch has made some design decisions that within the bounds of keeping the action hot and throwing an inordinate amount of enemies your way that work to just keep the game from descending into the stupid zone that so many previous COD’s have done.
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Before each mission you will need to select your load-out; primary secondary weapons, and a variety of supporting tech. For the most part you can go with the default suggested load-out, but it does add a level of fun tactics to fiddle with this prior to being dropped into a mission.
As previously stated the 2025 storyline is compelling, set the game on some exotic locations such as a man-made floating luxury holiday island. Toss in a futuristic story-line about a new powerful element that could revolutionise inter-nation cold-war escalation and build on a shadowy enemy with more than a billion followers to his cause and the mix is pretty good for a tense, tight, single player experience.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter also weaves a couple of storyline threads. This time a personal struggle between the family life of those serving in the military (the closing credits devote many words to this subject, isolating it as the point of the story) with a convoluted, acronym dense romp through many of the world’s hot-spots of trouble. One minute you will be tracking down a shipment of arms in the Philippine’s islands, next chasing a person of interest through a terrorist camp in Pakistan, or driving pell-mell through a Dubai dust storm.
Actually, on that, MoH: W has some top vehicle sections with the aforementioned Dubai section and a Indiana Jones style bash through middle-eastern market stalls being the highlights.
For the most part you don’t need to worry about ammo in MoH, as your buddies (who are usefully tagged with an icon over their heads) will always be source of endless bullets, yay! Your AI team mates are also useful in helping breech suspect doorway, however they shoot like Star Wars Storm Troopers once the action heats up.
Likewise the bad guys in beards AI is sub-par in this game, but compared to the Call Of Duty game it doesn’t the enemy fodder in MOH doesn’t need to hang its head in shame.
The Frostbyte II engine in MOH is pretty nice, certainly a step up from the previous game. However the level design – particularly towards the end of the game – does falter, and at times it can be confusing as to what to do next. There was one mission in particular that springs to mind, I had to fire one shot only, yet failed it twice even though I hit the required target.
COD: BO II also features concurrent optional RTS style missions called ‘strikeforce’. Some may like this complete change of pace as you marshal troops, robo-walkers and turrets with the ability to warp into each to take direct control. For me however, it was best to ignore the insistent yelling and urgency that was part of the Strikeforce presentation, instead concentrating on the FPS task at hand.
If you want a pure solo shooter however, check out Far Cry 3.