Frontlines: Fuel of War Xbox 360, PC
I had not followed Frontlines through development whatsoever. It had never really stood out as an interesting game to me. After all it is just another FPS, and we already have four hundred and forty eight thousand of them to play already. Regardless, I thought well enough of the game to give it a go once it hit retail. So, with me having no idea of what to know what to expect I stuffed it straight in my disc hole and started to play.
“Wow this is actually really good, where the hell did this come from.” Those were my exact words as I began to play the first level. It was quite the fun experience to tell the truth. Stuff was blowing up around me, people were shouting. The music was loud, albeit slightly cringeworthy, and everything was more or less action packed. The story seemed solid, and had enough basis in reality to be easy to understand by focusing on oil companies and telling a “what if” story of the future. Even better, the battlefield was vast, and I had loads of options to approach how to take out the enemies. All in all, everything that makes a good shooter was there, and a little bit was added atop to give the game its own flair.
However, the game’s first problem quickly became apparent with the move onto the second level as everything on show remains the same. Stuff continues to blow up, people continue to shout. Everything seems a carbon copy of what came before, albeit in a somewhat different setting. The only significant change was in my initial high praise for the game, which swiftly started to fade. This more or less continues to the end of the game, with many set pieces noticeably reused over and over again.
Another problem with the game is that it’s very generic. Yes, I know that is a highly overused word to describe games these days, but for Frontlines it is the best fit to describe what on show. It just lacks any kind of identity, and not only fails to distinguish itself for competitors, but also does nothing to differentiate different levels within the game that are supposedly set all over the world. Still, the game does try and up the ante slightly as you advance, introducing new weapons and vehicles, including a nice rocket launcher with a very satisfying lock-on, but still the objective based nature of the game has the nasty side effect of making each level feel very similar to the last.
However, due to the non-linear way you can approach levels there is some fun to be had over the 6 – 8 hours of the main campaign. All levels have a selection of objectives you can approach different ways, and the environments are massive. You never feel like you are be pushed down corridor after corridor as happens in many other shooters as well. Also, as I said, vehicles are included in the game at various points, but you are never forced to use them. If you think you’d be best of taking on a particular section without a tank you can, and in fact you if you see a guy with a rocket launcher you’re best off on foot as he can quite easily take the tank apart with a few shots. Furthermore, there are a few remote controlled vehicles such as mini tanks, helicopters, and little cars with explosive on them. To be honest many facets of the game reminded me of Battlefield, which is not surprising as I found out after playing that several of the guys involved at Kaos had ties to the Battlefield series with their work on previous projects.
Then there is the multiplayer, which puts forth a good effort and is somewhat interesting. Obviously, seeing as it is going head to head with the likes of Halo 3 and COD4 it has a lot to live up to, particularly on the 360, but there is no denying that it tries its best. The multiplayer plays just like the single player, setting you and your team objectives to run to, then either tasking you with holding them for a certain about of time, or making you work your way past defending players and blow it up to score points. Then the team that scores the most points wins. The vehicles, helicopters and remote control options from the single player game are all on show here too, which is nice.
There are six different styles to choose from – Assault, Heavy Assault, Sniper, Anti-Vehicle, Special Operations and Close Combat – each having there own pros and cons, and each having specific weapons. Because of this many tactics can be implemented, so your best off playing with a mic attached, and hope your team is made up of people with some sense. Most impressive is the option for up to 50 player action on one of the maps, which is damn impressive, especially for a console game. However, in the end the multiplayer is still not as well put together as most like it to be, with a few too many glitches to be exploited, and some annoying lag problems. As a result it’s unlikely a huge community will end up be built around the game, but with a few fixes via a patch I would certainly love to be proven wrong.
So, for a game that offers an exciting yet slightly underwhelming multiplayer, and an action packed but somewhat brief and disjointed campaign, Frontlines still manages to be better than the sum of its parts. There are better alternatives available though, remember that, and seeing as Frontlines offers such sporadic trills you’re best off first getting your hands on the best the genre offers, before taking what can only be described as been a step down to this effort.