The year is 2024 and the international fight for oil is more important than ever! In Frontlines: Fuel of War, your job is to take control of the “Stray Dogs” squadron and use all means necessary to move the frontlines forward. With a variety of over 60 weapons and vehicles, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Frontlines doesn’t exactly tread uncharted territory, but THQ and Kaos Studios do a decent job of enhancing the ever-popular “war” genre.
The first thing you’ll notice about Frontlines: Fuel of War is the single player seems to have an original and intriguing premise. The opening scenes almost grab you and pull you in like a real war movie. Everything from the rock music, the pep talk, the narrator, the characters, etc., it’s intense! These aspects are all refreshing and different than the many other games in its genre with the usual 30 seconds of background giving you just enough info to know what your fighting for. My question was, however, can they keep this feeling throughout the entire game?
Turns out that as you play through the outrageously short single player campaign, the premise noticeable goes away and leaves you with basically just your average gameplay. You control only your player (not the in-depth, team control of GRAW 2 which would have been a great addition to Frontlines) and your men just run along behind you not doing anything more than creating radio chatter. You’re given your objectives and your job is generally to mow down dumb AI players as they run through the open field and capture vital points on the map. A positive to the single player is that you get to spend a lot of time in vehicles. They hand tanks out to you like nobody’s business, which is both effective and also entertaining. These aspects would make for an average war game, which usually leaves you wanting more, but with Frontlines that’s where the online play comes in.
The biggest advertisement for Frontlines: Fuel of War is the massive (32+ players) online multiplayer component. The idea is pretty much the same as the campaign; capture the vital points on the map. You enter into a match and get the opportunity to choose your specialty weapons. This ranges from sniper (you get a sniper rifle and a pistol), anti-vehicle (missile launcher and some other gun), heavy assault (most versatile heavy machine gun), special ops (weaker, yet quieter machine gun), etc. You will come to learn which combinations are suitable for the current map.
Basic gameplay is pretty close to EA’s Battlefield but a little more interesting. The new twist to Frontlines is that you can only capture areas that lie on the dividing battle line. So more than once, you will be about to capture a target and the enemy beats you to a different one, and the line is pushed back, stopping the progress you had. It makes the matches take longer, but in a positive way.
Maps also come equipped with an array of vehicles, ranging from tanks to aircrafts. The multiplayer is very well equipped to every player’s needs. Almost every map contains a lot of the same weapons and vehicles, which allows you to use whatever your heart desires to kill the enemy.
Another cool aspect to playing online is the different roles that can be achieved during play. By capturing a certain percentage of target points or killing a number of enemies, you will gain different abilities. These include the ability to call in air strikes, terminate enemy electronics, set up gun turrets, and control up to 3 different drones (those friendly looking remote choppers and tanks that do tons of damage!). These extras make the game more than just running and shooting, but also very strategic.
During the 60 minute tug-of-war match for territory, you’ll notice a few frustrating aspects to the gameplay. You will come accustomed to drones when completing single player campaigns and they are very helpful in multiplayer as well. Drones are used to fly undetected over the enemy’s frontlines, and get close to a hiding enemy. When in close range to that enemy, you detonate your cute little toy and it becomes a weapon of destruction. In single player, detonation is instantaneous. However while playing online, the detonation has a lag time of over one second, giving your target more then enough time to flee the scene. It is also frustrating that your tanks and jeeps take so little beating before exploding, killing everyone inside and around it.
As for controlling your soldier, there are no new groundbreaking controls. Same way to fire (right trigger), throw a grenade (left trigger), zoom (right stick click), etc. The controls are a safe bet for the single player and it goes the same for online play. I have seen better and easier maneuvering from the vehicle standpoint, but it works nonetheless.
Graphics are decent. They are nothing to rave about like a Gears of War type game but they get the job done. You’ll come to notice that fire and smoke are very grainy from far away but don’t affect too much of the overall appearance. It is also awkward to have a helicopter land in the middle of a desert with no trees around and have the affect of the wind be like Tennessee in the fall. The game sounds relatively realistic with some of the machine guns and explosions being very entertaining. Again, nothing groundbreaking giving Kaos Studios room to improve both audibly and visually.
If you enjoy (and have time for) hour-long tug-of-war matches with a huge array of vehicles and weapons, then it’s hard to go wrong with Frontlines: Fuel of War. Despite the depressingly short single player campaign (which probably won’t be played again after you take your battle online) and the few graphic slip-ups, Frontlines offers a blast of a time online with friends.