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'Medal of Honor' shooter game takes bullet

EA noted in an earnings call last month that “Warfighter” had a “weaker than expected performance.”
By DERRIK J. LANG Published: November 14, 2012
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The punishment of Navy SEALs who worked on the video game “Medal of Honor: Warfighter” is the latest in a series of misfires for the interactive medium's popular military shooter genre, which continues to face scrutiny as high-definition graphics become more lifelike and gamemakers attempt to create the most authentic experiences possible.

“These games are now trying to portray things and tell stories around current events,” said Casey Lynch, editor-in-chief of the gaming site IGN.com. “When you're dealing with current topics, there's a higher level of sensitivity. I think most people would agree there's not the same level of sensitivity when compared to old World War II or Vietnam War games.”

Navy officials said last week that seven members of the secretive Navy SEAL Team 6, including one involved in the mission to take down Osama bin Laden, were reprimanded for disclosing classified information to the creators of “Warfighter,” a modern-day, first-person shooter from developer Danger Close Games and publisher Electronic Arts Inc.

“We worked really closely with more than two dozen operators on the mission objectives, operations, maneuvers and various elements in the game that helped shape our single-player campaign, things like the weaponry, the gear, the way these operatives perform door breeches,” said Luke Thai, producer at Danger Close Games, ahead of the game's Oct. 23 debut.

Real world less fiery

Thai noted that both the gamemakers and military personnel who consulted on “Warfighter” were cognizant about not detailing too much about current conflicts — or making them boring in virtual form. One of the game's missions tasks players with explosively battling a band of Somali pirates. Thai said the real-world inspiration for that level was far less fiery.

“In terms of the various conflicts that are still going on throughout the world, we touch upon those, but we don't replicate them exactly,” he said. “They serve as dotted-line inspiration for things that go on in the game. For instance, our overarching single-player campaign story revolves around a global hunt to shut down a fictional terror network.”

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