|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Kaos Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-64||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Frontlines also brings an interesting twist to combat with its remote controlled weapons called "drones." There is a variety of drones available to the player, from small RC cars that detonate to small flying helicopters that fire rockets. The drones even have a wireless signal range that players must learn to judge, which keeps players from sitting at the beginning of a level and completing the entire thing with a drone. Unfortunately, as the game progresses, using the drones where available actually takes more time, so while it's cool to drive a little remote-control tank into a building and shoot your enemies, it would just be easier to walk in and do it yourself.
Visually, Frontlines is on par with other FPS titles that came out within the past year. Unfortunately, the quality of the game's environments is a hit or miss situation. Some levels are detailed and look great, embodying the war-torn look, while others just seem much too clear and clean to fit. Character models are fleshed out well, but the lack of variety will leave a bad taste. Once the player has killed one Red Star Alliance solider, he has killed them all. And, even when the game throws the Red Star Alliance militia at you, their A.I. behaves and reacts the same way as the regular soldiers, making the militia nothing more than soldiers in different clothes.
Overall, the music is one of the redeeming aspects of Frontlines. The game blends a combination of rock-style music with the more traditional war-themed soundtracks, often times resulting in added immersion. However, there are several moments where the soundtrack seems to fall a little flat, which is noticeable especially when the player is supposed to be in a high-intensity situation. The sound effects, much like the game's environments, are either good or not so good. None of the weapons really sound like they pack much of a punch, especially the rockets fired from the flying drones. At times, it feels more like the drone is firing the equivalent of roman candles rather than anti-vehicle rockets. The voice acting is what you'd expect from a military FPS game. And, while the voice acting itself isn't terrible, the dialogue will have you either shaking your head, rolling your eyes or just plain laughing. This isn't helped by the presentation of your standard, stereotypical characters of military shooters: the rough-and-tough leader, the quiet guy in the corner, the emotional one, and the wise-cracking one.
Frontlines' multiplayer component has a wide range of issues from the start, most of which are noticeable before the player joins his first server. The browser that lists the available servers is too simplistic and buggy. For example, to join a server, a player must select the server from the list and then click the "Launch" button rather than just simply being able to double-click the server in the list. Worse even is the total lack of a server information option, making it difficult to determine how the server is setup, who is playing on it, and what the IP address is. This is made even more nonsensical by the inclusion of an "Enter IP" feature that would work just fine if players could actually retrieve server information without the need of third-party software like Xfire.
Once in a server, the game plays much the same as it does in the single-player campaign. The player chooses between the Red Star Alliance and the Western Coalition; picks his loadout, which determines his weapon configuration; and then picks his combat role, which determines his secondary abilities. There are eight loadouts including Assault, Heavy Assault, Sniper, Anti-Vehicle, Special Ops, and Close Combat, each of which is given a different primary weapon. The four combat roles include Ground Support, which gives the player the ability to do things like repair vehicles and provide ammo; EMP Tech, which allows players to disable enemy vehicles and drones; Drone Tech, which lets players deploy a variety of faction-specific drones; and Air Support, which allows the player to call down air support. Each combat role comes in three tiers which are unlocked as the player progresses, opening up new strategies. Unfortunately, picking your weapon and special ability is the limit of your character customization, which seems rather simplistic compared to the customization abilities in games like Battlefield 2142 and Call of Duty 4.
In the end, Frontlines: Fuel of War takes a real-world and political approach to the FPS genre. However, with many of its ambitious features falling short, it is difficult to notice what little the game does well. And, while it isn't the worst FPS to come out for the PC in recent years, it also doesn't stack up against already popular and much older titles.
CCC Freelance Writer