A future near depleted of fossil fuels erupts in war as the global powers battle desperately for survival – what it lacks in revolution it makes up for in fun
I thought Frontlines would be in danger of offering nothing much beyond what gamers have come to expect from EA’s Battlefield series but Kaos Studios and THQ had a few surprises in store. One thing that sets itself apart is the idea of a ‘frontline’ that can shift either way. You must secure and hold your frontline fortifications to stop the enemy from advancing, while they can’t capture territory behind you they can still cause a little nuisance. This is great to keep the action flowing and concentrated in specific areas so players don’t wander off and get to bored waiting to bump into a foe.
You have to push the frontline all the way to the enemies’ stronghold and once you capture that you’ll win the match. Strategies are far better off this way as it funnels the action to major hot spots but those who like to cut off the enemy supply lines won’t be getting their fill, sorry guys and gals. It’s the trade off in gameplay, either everyone can participate more actively and effectively by hitting specific frontlines or go and let everyone do their own thing, like in Battlefield, but have renegades running the show.
C4 drones, for those hard to reach places
Keep your hands and legs inside the vehicle at all times
This also applies to the single player campaign which is something Battlefield has never really had and was abandoned in favour of just multiplayer action. The storyline, while certainly nothing original, really helps to flesh out the Fuel of War universe and really get a patriotic momentum going as you square off against the underhanded and ‘evil’ Red Star Alliance. The RSA is a military alliance between Russia and China which have fallen back to their true authoritarian ways and declare war on the West.
The cut scenes and narrative have their camp and cheesy moments which isn’t a detriment, on the contrary it helps thing move along – if Kaos Studios had really gone for a serious spin on this straight-to-DVD “B” movie plot then there would have been a problem. There’s plenty of mayhem and you will be using quite a lot of what the multiplayer has to offer barring a few units like the fighter jet, and you get to use the chopper rarely. Of course the AI is nowhere near as entertaining as actual live players but they can still put up a bit of a scrap. For a genre that is really defined with online play Kaos have done a really good job putting this blazing trail from the rural Turkmenistan to an urban Moscow together.
Dying in the game simply lets you respawn in both single and multiplayer; you can also change your load out if you want. Depending on what you choose your gear will change accordingly as you’d expect. Vehicles will respawn a lot faster than its ‘human’ counterpart but they only show up at bases so it’s best you know what you’re doing. Luckily they can really put the pedal to the floor and have you zipping about the place, the slight drawback is if you don’t really watch where you’re going then physics will be your downfall. You can drive jeeps, tanks, anti-air and pilot choppers and jets – plenty for all.
The extra kicker is not the vehicles but the remote controlled drone units, now these are real fun to mess around with. They aren’t just some gimmick though as they can pack a punch, especially the little remote car packed with C4 that, if parked directly under it, will rip through a tank like a hot knife through butter. The mini-Gatling gun drone can help clear those blocked corridors or provide some nasty suppression fire. My favourite though would have to be the remote controlled helicopter armed with miniature missiles that deliver more than just a laugh. These blighters are excellent for infiltrating a building as they can fit almost anywhere and let their payload fly within a millisecond. You can’t drive or pilot these remotes all over the map though, they have a range or ‘signal strength’ so you have to keep an eye on that – plus you’ve left yourself standing vulnerable at the controls.
Gunfire in Frontlines has great audio
The frontline war mechanic helps funnel the action
All these little remote devils, assault craft and armoured divisions meet their match with the all-mighty rocket launchers. Frontline has the array of weapons and gear you’d expect with vehicles, drones and fixed weapon points. Getting a tank is no “King of the Hill” moment as you’ll need to be real careful protecting the rear of the tank. The launchers will lock-on to targets to make all the work a lot easy, especially when it comes to facing off against a helicopter and they can clear out fixed gun points too. A helping of special abilities/talents comes to the rescue as well, calling in airstrikes, setting up EMP pulse defences which turn vehicles into useless paperweights etc.
Graphically the game doesn’t measure up to other shooters like Call of Duty 4 but they’re more than great for all the action you’ll be having. The environments are well thought out from the small towns complete with bullet holes and debris to the towering and scarred skyscrapers. The audio while not much score-wise delivers a great impact nonetheless, the weapons fire is certainly the strongest of the pack, and the voiceovers are done very well.
Being on the PC the controls are customisable which is a good thing indeed, getting into an attack helicopter for the first time was a rather hilariously tragic affair, I lifted off only to kamikaze a few moments later as I tried to get the thing under control and avoid enemy fire. Console controllers always have the advantage over the PC, unless a joystick is involved, as the twin analogue sticks make flying a breeze usually – still the default control scheme is fine.
Vehicles are deadly but just as vulnerable
Capturing spots is easy, keeping them is another matter
FRONTLINES: FUEL OF WAR VERDICT
Frontlines: Fuel of War isn’t just some filler as people wait for EA’s next Battlefield instalment, yes it does borrow heavily from the game but it has more than enough qualities to really stand proud. The frontline dynamic which is enforced helps players to hone their strategies and strength of numbers on specific parts of the warzone, it keeps action flowing. The addition of drones and the special support powers helps keeps thing even more alive and gamers on their virtual toes. Kaos Studios and THQ have created an unoriginal but really entertaining game; those it took inspiration from could stand to learn a few things themselves.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The drones are so much fun; it’s a great laugh watching soldiers in full gear run away from a RC car no higher than your shin - packed with C4.