Publisher: Bandai Namco Games | Developer: CI Games | On sale now
There are a few things you can really count on the games industry. A new GTA game will score a perfect 10 from at least one reviewer. FIFA will sell millions of copies despite being basically the same game as the year before. And developers and publishers will always think that there’s room in the market for another Second World War shooter, even in 2014. Unfortunately, Enemy Front is just the latest in a very, very long line.
It’s clear that the team had some big plans for this game to set it apart from the countless other WWII FPS titles, and sometimes this really does pay off. Each level is large enough to have several possible solutions, and you can easily flank enemies, creep past them, or find alternate routes across the map. At moments like these you can really start to enjoy Enemy Front, but inevitably something annoying will happen and you’ll end up shouting garbled swearwords at your TV.
The stealth kills, for example, look great but are laughably pointless. Creep up behind an enemy and you’ll see a prompt to sneakily execute them. Brilliant! Click in the right stick, though, and you’ll leap onto the back of your enemy, stabbing him several times in the neck to make sure he’s super-dead before cinematically withdrawing your knife. Unfortunately, this animation takes four seconds to complete – other guards spotted us frantically knifing a soldier on at least three separate occasions, sparking a huge gunfight. Before long you’ll find yourself creeping up behind an enemy, then stepping to his side, where the melee button will dispatch him in less than a second.
If you do get spotted and your epic skills don’t quite manage to pay the incurred bills, the swears will only get more intense. Checkpoints are placed so sparsely throughout the levels that often you’ll be forced to complete two fire fights, watch a cutscene and save an NPC before you return to your previous location. Oh, you died again in the same spot? ENJOY IT A THIRD TIME, SUCKER!
Still, if you manage to avoid death and ignore stealth attacks, things do start to become much more fun. The first few levels of the game feature our hero, Robert Hawkins, going solo and creeping through dank sewers or sniping Nazis in quaint French farms. When you later team up with other revolutionaries, you’ll occasionally find interactive set pieces, such as trucks that you can roll down a hill towards the enemy to wipe out entire squads in one go. Whenever we came across one of these opportunities watching the carnage unfold was great fun.
There are also elements of choice involved in missions. Sometimes it’s just a case of picking between two weapons, but it can also change the way you play missions. For example, do you want to sneakily make your way into a church through the catacombs, or blow a hole in the wall and take out the soldiers inside? These clever twists on an otherwise tired genre are the high points of the game, but for every explosive truck there’s a low-quality texture or a return to that checkpoint you passed half an hour ago.
The stealth gameplay doesn’t do much to alleviate the pain, and it’s another case of good ideas that weren’t quite realised. Sometimes guards saw us through solid objects, or we would be seen from hundreds of metres away. Still, it’s not all bad: there’s a cool ‘Loud Noise’ gameplay element that will disguise your shots if you fire when a plane is flying over, or a tannoy announcement is being made. It’s a nice idea, and it’s implemented well, but it can’t stop the feeling that the whole stealth system is a little half-baked.
The storyline falls pretty flat, too. The American journalist picks up a rifle after his search for a good story turns into the realisation that there’s something worth fighting for. That’s right, the American saves the day in World War II yet again. Unfortunately, despite the game being developed in Poland, there is nothing here that adds anything to the WWII genre. Before long you’ll stop paying attention to exactly why Hawkins leaves the base and just skip straight to the shooting. The other characters all feel lifeless, making them unmemorable, and Hawkins isn’t much better. It’s a shame, considering where the game was developed, that we couldn’t get a better sense of Warsaw during the war. All we really get is a lot of gunplay with a side order of sneaking.
The multiplayer feels somewhat like an afterthought, too. A new mode, called Radio Transmission, tries to mix things up a little, but otherwise this is absolutely nothing new. The whole game is really just a little too forgettable. In five years time you may recall that game that let you pick your own missions in World War II Warsaw, but we doubt you’ll remember it was called Enemy Front.