|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: 1-32||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Wide open levels nicely complement the free-wheeling weapon approach by giving gamers plenty of room to run around and tons of environments to tear into; cool destructible items abound. This isn't to say it offers a GTA-like sandbox, but it's certainly not a corridor-crawler, either. Each level is a large map with multiple objectives to take. These range from the typical taking over of communication outposts to destroying ammo depots. In fact, it's with these generic missions, as well as Frontlines' paper-thin narrative, that the game suffers a bit. The intro actually sets up a cool near-future yarn about the world's dependence on oil, but it never goes very far. Also, a strange storytelling device takes the focus off the main character and places it on a third-party participant, a war journalist that's tagging along.
You'll likely be entertained enough by the amped action that you won't be longing for story details anyway. Just don't expect the slick, cinema-style storytelling that's becoming the norm in next-gen games. And, if we hadn't already made it abundantly clear, don't expect a ton of realism either; where Call of Duty 4 actually got criticized for hitting too close to home with its authenticity, Frontlines likely won't hear any complaints other than from some folks whose trigger fingers are too sore. Frontlines is all about fast-paced fun, but delivering this means losing some of that realism and narrative depth. It proudly wears this approach as a badge of honor though, as proven by its strategy-starved achievements (on the Xbox 360 version). Players are rewarded for how fast they can complete levels, as well as how far they can make it without dying--not exactly tactical stuff, but lots of fun.
Frontlines clearly cares about its multiplayer experience as much as its solo campaign--good thing, as the single player mode only lasts about 5-6 hours. Online play only offers one mode--a cool objective-capturing game where you fight to occupy the most map, but it works very well. This is due mostly to the fact the same fun-over-realism approach translates well into the online arena, creating crazy addictive matches that support up to 32 cyber soldiers. You'll blow through the solo campaign quicker than COD4--and people complained that was too short--, but most will get their money's worth out of the online experience. Hopefully this one will benefit from future downloadable content; it'd be nice to see it stick around awhile, but it'll take fresh content to keep folks interested for the long, Halo 3-like haul.
Frontlines looks and sounds good, generally keeping pace with other games in the genre. Being able to see billowing smoke and tall oil refining structures way off in the distance is a nice touch, really selling the immersion of the large levels. And simple sound tweaks, like the buzz of your flying drones, can be heard even as things explode all around you. Frontlines won't get the attention that bigger titles with flashy production values receive, but it deserves a nod for its focus on fun. There are tons of military shooters out there, but where many offer a me-too experience, Frontlines differentiates itself by providing a fun-first approach. Let the other guys worry about dramatic storylines and realistic military maneuvers while we get our Rambo on in Frontlines: Fuel of War.
CCC Freelance Writer