The release of Enemy Front falls within that golden age of gaming where developers are making the most of last-gen systems whilst warming up to developing on latest-gen systems. Games that are usually released around this time, often push the limits of the older consoles similar to the way we deal with final bit of toothpaste at the end of the tube. Unfortunately, Enemy Front feels like they have decided to throw this tube of toothpaste out despite there being plenty of toothpaste left to use.
I had high hopes for Enemy Front. For some time now the focus has been shifted onto the modern shooter genre with Call of Duty and Battlefield not only offering a modern day landscape, but landscapes decades into the future too. Enemy Front, for me, was a diamond in the rough. Sure, we’ve got the recent release of Wolfenstein offering a similar crazed Nazi-themed shoot ‘em up, but given the developers, CI Games, track record for accuracy – especially with the Sniper: Ghost Warrior series – I was really hoping this would be the next best WWII shooter.
As you may have guessed by now. It was not.
As soon as I started the first mission in Enemy Front I immediately felt transported to 2006, back to the early stages of development for the Xbox 360, the game felt like it had been developed on a ridiculously old engine, despite the classy British lady telling me it was achieved with Cry Engine. What we actually have here with Enemy Front is a game best suited for release six or seven years ago, not today, when most people are considering the move to a different generation of console.
As with most shooters, you’re thrown straight into a tutorial following a brief cut-scene introducing you to the games easily forgettable main protagonist, Robert Hawkins, a journalist who’s following the Polish revolution against the Nazi invasion in Poland, where the developers are also based I might add, in order to get the next big scoop. This tutorial shows you the basics and gives you your first objective, to “clear the area”, it’s here you begin to see problems.
Enemy Front’s AI are about as intelligent as a sock. Throughout the game you’ll quickly learn how to manipulate the poor AI to your advantage so you can easily breeze through levels, or if you prefer, run through an entire Nazi camp filled with soldiers that’ll follow and shoot you until you reach the next checkpoint, by which time the hoard of enemies behind you stop, and you’re met with a handful of new soldiers who act as if nothing has happened – who’d have thought radio communications were that bad in World War II.
The games AI reacts to sound and sight and their alert status is indicated on your mini map – if they’re even shown on there that is. Yellow means they’re acting as normal, Orange means they’re suspicious of something, and Red means they’re on to you. You can use this to your advantage by throwing a seemingly endless supply of stones to distract guards, there’s just one problem. You’re never in a location where you can use this to your advantage, and if you are I found that it didn’t work so well. What I found to be a better way to manipulate Enemy Front’s AI is to fire a few rounds and watch an entire Nazi camp come running towards you, all in a line, so you can easily mow down an entire group of enemies with a single clip – that is if the game registers your shot..
On a number of occasion’s I’d fine myself thinking “really” when I point blank fired my rifle into an enemy running directly towards me only to find it either missed, or only injured the little sod – a feature in the game which does nothing by the way other than registers a white hit marker rather than a red one – and trying to hit a moving target with an SMG is a close to impossible task, partly due to the games terrible aiming system which I’m not sure is to accurately represent the weapons being used, or whether the game is just that bad.
More often than not with the AI they’ll warp out of walls or onto roofs, fall into gaps in the terrain and remain stuck until you put an end to their misery, or acquire a super-weapon that allows them to fire through concrete walls and other environmental objects, I know I keep going on about the games AI, but they’re just that bad.
Moving on to the game’s story – or lack thereof – you play as Hawkins, an American journalist who discovers that he’ll be able to get the next big scoop if he follows along with the Polish revolution who plans to take down the Nazi army currently invading Warsaw, during which the various easily forgettable comrades you’re helping are often surprised by your ability to use the weaponry you’re given, which when you’re asked how you learned, triggers a flashback mission which often takes you away from the story at hand.
The games only major redeeming factor is the games use of stealth. CI Games did a fantastic job with the Sniper: Ghost Warrior series, and in Enemy Front that mechanic is certainly present once again when you eventually get a sniper rifle in your hands. With Enemy Front you’re given a choice, something which brings the game back into a modern era, whether it’s you choosing your starting weapon, or deciding how you tackle the mission – such as going in all guns blazing, or taking a silent sniper approach – Enemy Front gives the player a lot of choice.
Each level is laid out as such to, offering the chance for the player to either skirt around the outside of the map in order to quietly pop enemies off, or for the runner gunner, go in spitting lead all over the place. It’s this feeling of your choices actually making a difference to the mission, which becomes a big redeeming factor in the game, despite the end-goal being ultimately the same.
As for the games soundtrack, it becomes apparently that there’s only two or three major tracks included in Enemy Front, the first is the soothing piano sequence which is repeated during the games loading screen, and the other two are played usually during tense moments and firefights which abruptly comes to an end once you’ve eliminated the final enemy in that area.
Enemy Front also has a multiplayer offering, which once again shoots you back to the era of Call of Duty 3. With just three game modes, two of which are Deathmatches, and four maps to choose from, Enemy Front certainly isn’t hoping to be the next big multiplayer shooter. There’s also no class or levelling system, just good old fashioned shoot to kill gameplay, which I’m sure would be impressive if the multiplayer wasn’t plagued with the same problems as the single player. What’s more, trying to find a populated server is an impossible task too.
Overall, despite being given choices to make, Enemy Front is the definition of linear. Each level usually plays out the same; You’re instructed to clear the area, then you’re met with a quiet section filled with ammo crates, which is then met by another populated area, which ends with a quiet section with more ammo crates – you get the idea. Despite the gameplay offering some redeeming factors, the games AI, the forgettable story, paired with the appauling voice acting and character animation, Enemy Front falls flat on its face.
Enemy Front could have been so much more than this, but instead it fails before the first hurdle. I wish the game looked as good as the screenshots above, which I’m guessing can be achieved with the PC version of the game, but sadly, if you’re opting for the console version, the game won’t look nearly as good as the above screens.
This review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of Enemy Front provided by Square Enix.