Though we previewed Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s multiplayer for you after several hours with it at PAX Prime, we also had the chance to check out a brief snippet from the single player campaign.  While not revolutionary in gameplay or delivering any unexpected moments, the mission proved quite impressive with gorgeous cutscenes and an alternating sense of power and danger.

With the Frostbite 2 engine in hand, developer Danger Close has created some of the most stunning cinematics I have seen in a while.  Introducing the mission on a rain-splattered night, I immediately noticed something different than most videos I have witnessed in game.  While staying spoiler free, a scene in a hospital, as a soldier speaks with his wife and daughter, made me aware of what I came away so impressed by – there appeared to be real texture to the world.

As a wounded husband and father lie in his bed, the blanket above his quilt looked like a separate object, and not merely a painted-on color.  While lying in the rain, the clothing of two soldiers appeared worn by the inclement weather.  It was a small touch, but one that I noticed and found myself repeatedly impressed by each time I noticed such tangibility to the proceedings.  While gameplay certainly could not equal this caliber, the cutscenes lent reality and weight to what I played, making for a more visceral experience.

In terms of actual gameplay, I played through a series of rain-soaked shootouts, inching my way closer to an impressive finale.  Guns packed quite the punch, with the recoil apparent but not excessive, and even the way characters held their weapons appeared natural.  My character would carry the pistol in an upright position while running, and small touches like these in addition to the desolate but impressive battlefield.

Shootouts came in bursts, moments of quiet allowing the team to bond or exchange words of preparation.  I found headshots a surprisingly achievable goal, and though different markers would pop up to let me know of my success, it may remove some of the realism otherwise pervasive in the level.

The entire affair ended with a final shootout from a far more powerful gun.  While in normal firefights I found smart enemies willing to flank or abandon cover to attack me, the game gave me the opportunity to unload from a blackhawk’s turret.  Mowing down waves of enemies, the scene delivered a sense of power as I played, but it definitely felt like the most arcade-style portion, betraying the game’s authenticity for only a moment.  The sequence was fun, however; it felt more like a minigame, as I did not control the airborne vehicle’s path.  Instead I could only move my view so much as the gunner, making sure enemy defenses did not make it far in their charge.

Overall though, I enjoyed this brief glimpse into the campaign.  Gameplay felt strong and the cutscenes delivered an enticing entry into the game’s story.  Despite the game’s sometimes-obvious attempts to balance delivering fun while staying true to the harsher reality of war, I was curious to see more of the narrative.  Combined with my impressions of the multiplayer portion of the game, Medal of Honor: Warfighter has certainly piqued my interest as we near its October 23 release for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.