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Frontlines: Fuel of War – Xbox 360

01 Jun 08

Frontlines: Fuel of War in its fictional setting explores the finite reality of fossil fuels and the breakdown between powers once supply begins to melt down. Set in 2024, the world is running out of oil and things are looking bleak. Civil order is breaking down the globe over and nations have been forced to consider new alliances. Two major alliances form in this dystopian future, one being the Western Coalition comprised of the entire western world as the name would suggest. The other major faction in the conflict is the Red Star Alliance and if you’re thinking it sounds like something out of a Christian Gossett graphic novel, you would be pretty close to the penny considering the two main partners are the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. The only people strangely devoid in any major way in the game are the Arab nations who despite the fact that the war is been fought on their soil, have packed it in and decided to let the big boys decide who gets the world’s most precious resource. Of no surprise however is the introduction of corporate agenda overtones and dubious leadership on both sides of the conflict.

Getting into the gameplay isn’t a challenge, after a rather lengthy introductory cut-scene you are thrust into the thick of combat. Playing as a soldier

fighting for the Western Coalition your recently downed craft is surrounded by enemy troops and it’s your mission to slaughter those unlucky enough to stick their heads above cover. It’s around this point in the game when you realise that the AI isn’t that intelligent. A number of times I noticed the AI running from cover to cover in what amounted to clay pigeon shooting. The mechanic that sets Frontlines apart from the plethora of shooters on the market is unsurprisingly the Frontline mechanic. As you push forward or fall back the frontline moves with you. This helps to keep the action centralised and forces a strategic choice in the objectives you take. This mechanic features strongly in both the single player game and the various multiplayer game types.

Another mechanic is the use of drones. I found the drones to be little more than an irritating add-on. The control scheme on the 360 is standard, nothing too new or strange so it’s easy to pick up and play right from the get go. As seems to be the trend in FPS titles these days, the health meter is gone from the HUD, meaning hiding in a corner for a while will indeed allow you to heal up. The rest of the HUD is logically laid out, all the relevant information is clearly displayed and objectives are displayed in the game field meaning that at all times you know exactly what is going on in any given situation. If I was to complain about anything in the single player campaign it would have to be the length. The campaign itself is compelling and fun but it’s over before you really get a chance to sink your teeth into it.

Graphically the game is very smooth and while the textures aren’t perhaps the most detailed, Frontlines: Fuel of War is a title with a consistently smooth frame rate which goes a long way towards making the game more enjoyable. Having a jittery frame rate can destroy an otherwise good game.

The multiplayer is exciting and features the same mechanics as the single player game, the frontline featuring heavily again. Players can choose to be either side in the conflict and have the option of choosing one of six classes; the assault, heavy assault, sniper, anti-vehicle, special ops and close combat classes all having different roles on the battlefield. Added to this is the ability to specialise in one of four roles; ground support, EMP tech, drone tech and air support all adding an extra level of customisation for players. The games are fought in the same way as the single player missions, with the frontline moving backwards and forwards depending on what objectives have been captured.

Frontlines stands apart as a game which has covered all the bases to create a fun game, it hasn’t made any drastic additions to the FPS genre but it has refined the elements that make FPS games fun and packaged them with a reasonably compelling plot to create a solid and enjoyable title.

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