Medal of Honor: Warfighter was perhaps one of the most anticipated games of the fall. The prestigious Medal of Honor name coupled with second generation Frostbite graphics teased everyone from hardcore gamers with an itchy trigger finger to casual gamers who just enjoy the FPS genre.
In the interest of full disclosure, DAGERS usually attempts to rate games based on complete play-throughs, but there were such massive barriers in this game that we were only able to write a review based on the first four levels. However, players with certain disabilities should still be able to enjoy this game—if they are willing to be patient.
To begin with, it’s refreshing to see that the developers at Danger Close have included a dedicated colorblind mode that increases the contrast between all important elements, which should make it much easier for visually impaired gamers to progress through the game. However, the game is still a hardcore shooter, which means that it does not have the forgiving nature needed to compensate for every impediment brought on by a player’s visual impairment. In other words, even though it is easier to tell exactly where the enemies are, precise aiming is still needed to eliminate targets, especially at long distances, and there is a lot of pressure to be accurate when the player has fifteen enemies firing at them all at once.
Similarly, the game features a fairly complete subtitle system, which only leaves out ambient noise. However, since ambient noise is very helpful in determining the exact locations of enemies, we do not feel it would be appropriate to mark this game as barrier free. But it should be possible for a player with a hearing disability to beat the campaign with nothing more than a little persistence.
Where the real problems arise is for gamers with fine motor issues. We ran into three particular instances. The first is the breach mechanic, which allows you and your squad-mates to go through a door. This process initiates a slow-motion sequence in which the object is to kill all the enemies in the room before they have time to react. The player starts out with one particular style of breach and is allowed to unlock more as they score more headshots and successful breaches. The problem is that the timer on the initial breach is too quick for most gamers with fine motor disabilities to even kill the guards in the room, let alone take the time to line up headshots. As a result, players with fine motor disabilities will find themselves dying over and over again while trying to clear a single room because the time expires, and they get sprayed with bullets before they even take out half of the targets.
To make matters worse, the sniping mechanic is very finicky. It took our reviewer three hours and the help of a non-disabled person to make it through one sniping segment that should have taken approximately ten minutes. To be fair, the reviewer eventually discovered that he was using the wrong technique to eliminate targets at great distances. But even after looking up a walkthrough for a particular level, it still took him an hour to beat that small segment, and he still needed the help of a non-disabled person.
The reason for this is that when playing as a sniper, players do not have the benefit of a steady scope. In the interest of realism, the developers at Danger Close designed the sniping mechanic so that the character had to hold their breath by holding down a trigger button. The problem was that the game would only allow about a ten second window in which the scope was steady to line up the shot. The result was that the reviewer had to use someone else’s hands to press the button to make the sniper hold his breath while the reviewer himself actually lined up the shot. Even worse still, an extremely limited selection of controller customization means that players will not be able to move buttons into more accessible positions.
The final nail in the coffin for Medal of Honor: Warfighter was that after the sniping debacle there immediately follows an entire level which, by itself, would be a horrendous barrier, but which coupled with everything else ensures that the game is inaccessible. What are players doing in this level? Defusing a bomb with rapid button taps? Trying to control an extremely jumpy but incredibly powerful machine gun? No … they are driving … a sedan.
If this were a racing game, we would have looked at it and seen that the game required extremely precise motor control and we would have just shrugged it off, since that kind of barrier is par for the course in racing games. But in a first person shooter these types of barriers serve no purpose and do absolutely nothing to enhance the game. No matter how hard our reviewer tried, he wasn’t able to complete this level—even though he again was using the help of a non-disabled person to manipulate both the gas and brake buttons, which are situated on the right and left triggers, respectively. When our reviewer finally gave up, all enjoyment in the game had been lost.
In conclusion, buying Medal of Honor: Warfighter will be a real gamble for all players with disabilities and should probably just be avoided by those with fine motor limitations. But this is not to say that it is a bad game. We wanted to see it be accessible, and the inclusion of a dedicated colorblind mode was a step in the right direction. But for every small step that Warfighter makes towards accessibility, it makes three giant leaps backwards.
Please feel free to leave comments below the article that address your particular accessibility challenges with this game. If you feel there is a major omission in this review, please feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “revision” in the subject line. Please include specific details regarding anything we may have missed. If necessary, we will update our review based on your feedback.
Overall Rating: Partially Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Inaccessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Released For: XBox 360, PS3, PC
ESRB Rating: M
GameInformer Score: 5.0