Frontlines: Fuels of War is one of the few games that has suprised me in recent months. I found it near the bottom of a “bargain bucket” in GAME, for a mere £8, and thought I may as well try it out, and luckily, luck pulled through and I found quite a neat little game.
Developed by KAOS Studios and released on PC and Xbox only (due to compatability errors with the PS3), Frontlines is about a war between EU and America (the Co-allition Forces) and China and Russia (the Red Star Alliance), fighting over the last scraps of the worlds oil in the year 2024, society has fallen and so called “renewable power sources” have failed, the world is a desperate place. This may sound like the same as every other war game released today, or something similar at least, which is what I assume led to it’s mostly unsuccessful release, however, I actually think the story was as imaginitive as it was allowed to be (it’s a war game made by an American company who only see war as a thing where lots of stuff goes BANG), and I was genuinely hooked onto the story, right up to the very end where it pissed itself and died due to the developers running out of money (that’s the only sensible conclusion I can come up with) and basically just saying “all’s well that end’s well” right in the middle of it.
Unfortuantely, a sequel is not to be released, which I reckon really could of clinched this game, it had impressive AI tactics, which may not sound impressive at all, but the AI gave me a worthwile fight on every difficulty setting, (if a bit overpowered on the hardest setting-4 bodily sniper shots to take someone down is difficult when they’re firing rockets at you quicker than you can move) somewhat neat graphics, but sometimes slightly undone, especially in rundown areas of Russia towards the end of the game, where I just got the feel KAOS had started to use the same basic template for everything, with some very minor changed, a major “no-no” in my book, but on the main part nothing new or spectacular admittedly, most likely due to a limited cost.
There are a list of classes to choose from, however, irritatingly, they often don’t seem to be very well balanced out with the exception of the sniper, but also clsses like “Special Forces” which are meant to be almost an achievement for the player to play as often dissapoint, with some fairly pointless weaponry and almost nothing about them which makes them better than you’re average “Assault Trooper”, other than this, classes don’t easily match out against eachother, and no class has a significant weakness to the other, which can sometimes lead to sheer annoyance, especially on higher levels, where AI snipers are engaging you in close combat, and winning, something that just shouldn’t be done.
Weaponry on this game was highly interesting, such as drones (bringing hours of fun alone, I assure you), which enabled you to take down tanks from a safe distance, scout ahead for areas or cause general disruption for the enemy. Also, a new weapons aiming system that I’ve never seen before, but was ultimately impressed by, testing the payers skills, and if successful allowing the player to tactically use weapons such as Rocket Launchers to fire at certain points to gain tactical advantage, rather than you’re normally crude versions of rocket launchers which are more of a point, shoot BANG mechanisim. However, the weapons selection system in this game was truly awful, with KAOS trying and completely failing to create something new, which in fairness they did create something new, but the only reason it hadn’t been created before was because it didn’t work, using your analouge buttons, you had to flick to weapon you wanted (which was actually quite a tricky art to master) and use the weapon in a time quick enough you don’t get killed, causing lots of extra effort and in my case frustration, as time and time again I’d try to whip my pistol out quickly to stop an enemy mowing me down, onl to retrieve a lump of C4 in my hand or a sniper rifle…
Like most games released today, there is of course an online aspect to the game, and when I say aspect, I mean the game relies on it to make up for it’s lack of quality in offline play, which is a major problem for me as I don’t currently have Xbox LIVE to play t with, however, I’m told by tose who do have it that the online aspect is actually much better, with more character classes, weapons and vehicles such as Jets, which don’t appear in offline gameplay (yet you’re still expected to somehow know how to fly them).
For a £8 game I’d strongly reccomend Frontlines, however, it is key to remember that this game in’t as well finished as games with limitless money poured into them such as Halo, which can lead to some cheap effects, and some dire gameplay mechanics such as the weapons selection system.
Overall rating, 8/10