Frontlines: Fuel of War Preview - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
PC
Release date:
February 18, 2008
Publisher:
THQ
Developer:
Kaos Studios
Players:
1 - 64
Genre:
First-Person Shooter
ESRB:
M

Frontlines: Fuel of War

Now with hands-on from PC and Xbox 360 versions.

Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
December 16th 2007
 

With the release of the single player demo on Xbox Live and the opening of the PC beta, I've been able to try out Frontlines from both sides of the trenches, and what I've experienced is extremely promising, but could still use a little adjustment.

First thing I noted about the single player was the vast scale of the map, including a number of streets and alleyways to follow, buildings to enter, and rooftops to climb. There wasn't a single objective that couldn't be reached by multiple points, giving the player the freedom to take on the map as they see fit, and collecting new weaponry to help push the front forward. The machine gun was deadly, but had a heavy kick to it, while the rocket launcher was explosive, but needed time to aim. Targeting speed was a little awkward in the 360 version, however, and though it allowed for adjustment it ended up feeling a little too stiff or too loose. Also while I didn't mind the button assignments, it's an oversight they can't be customized like the PC version. The vehicles also didn't feel quite right here, though they're spot on with the PC.

Multiplayer is clearly the core of the experience. The beta only seems to allow for maps up to thirty two players, but that's more than plenty. Even with maps on this scale, the game mechanic of the frontline and the set objectives along it focuses that firepower in a relatively small area. Sixty four players would have been utter chaos. I spent most of my game time on the Oil Fields (Streets was the other map), where a wide range of tactics and vehicles were set to rule the day. The classes available, assault, heavy assault, sniper, anti-vehicle, special forces, and close combat, ended up only half useful from my limited experience. Heavy assault was weaker than regular assault, special forces stealthy approach doesn't give you any real advantage, and the shotgun in close combat is only a little better than the assault rifle. The bigger difference comes in the form of roles, one focused on battlefield aid and repair, another using EMP to locate and disable major firepower, drones for all of your remote control explosive fun, and air strikes for... well, blowing the heck out of anything in sight. The latter two seemed a little too powerful, to the point people rarely used anything else.

Controls are responsive and level design is generally strong, though both of the available maps could have used some extensive underground tunnels to reduce the advantages of vehicles and snipers. In fact, the game is in serious need of some spawn protection. Spawn camping is too easy and creates too great of an advantage for the winning team, leaving the losing side in a position that's almost impossible to recover from. Mostly playing anti-vehicle, I once spawned behind a fence with a damaged tank on the other side. Without the fence in the way, he would have been dead, instead he shot me back to the respawn counter. Speaking of respawns, vehicles reappear way too fast, negating the whole risk an anti-vehicle trooper takes to bring them down, and buy himself some breathing room to capture the objective. Another problem with death and spawning is the game doesn't always tell you which direction the shot that killed you came from, leaving you to die from the same sniper over and over.

The core game is a lot of fun, so hopefully this beta will work out these kinks. The developers have two months left to tweak and adjust the details of this epic shooter, so I expect Frontlines will be a far more polished product come February.


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