First announced in 2011, Enemy Front is a first person shooter developed by Polish studio CI Games and published by Bandai Namco. Boasting, "non linear game play, with open-ended levels, and a richly interactive combat experience," Enemy Front caught the attention of the gaming community, but with a series of delays, and cuts to game content, does the final product live up to its claims.
In short, mostly no, with a tiny bit of yes. Enemy Front puts you in the shoes of Robert Hawkins, an American writer/war correspondent/ Rambo badass, who joins various resistance groups throughout Europe to assist in their cause and document their struggle. The story of this game sounds great, and the concept of a writer caught in war torn Europe during World War II should serve as a rich base to develop characters from. However, what is delivered is a lacklustre, single player campaign, with a cast of forgettable characters.
The campaign is extremely short even for FPS standards, and will take less than eight hours to complete, so I recommend setting the difficulty to medium or expert to give yourself a bit of a challenge.The main story is interesting and conveyed well throughout the missions and cut scenes, but the below average voice acting, coupled with poor lip sinking and dated facial graphics does not engage the player or edneer them to the protaganist and his comrades. Many of the reactions and motivations of the main characters seem odd and ruin the story immersion, by the time I was half-way through the campaign I had stopped caring about Robert all together. There are still some good moments during the campaign, and confronting Nazi violence, but for the most part players will find the cut scenes are only a useful break in which to fix yourself a drink or snack.
The structure of the campaign missions is good on the whole. Players are regularlygiven the choice as to what order they complete certain missions and once in the mission are free to approach the objectives how they wish. Enemy Front has a decent stealth mechanic which offers a sneaky route to victory through backstabing and hiding bodies, but this is let down by the lack of a defined cover system. Rather than have the player press a button that would draw them into cover they instead just move behind the various objects in the levels. This run behind something and hope for the best cover system often results in the player being discovered by the enemy and having to shoot their way out. By the second mission in I was so frustrated by the lack of cover system that I stopped trying to stealth kill characters and instead went in guns a blazin'.
Combat in Enemy Front is a mixed bag, with a good variety of detailed weapons that are consistent with the World War II timeframe,but some of the worst AI I have seen in a long time. All of the guns on offer look great, and react as expeted, with differing accuracy, damage and recoil depending on the gun. The game offers a good sniping system with the player able to scope their target, hold their breath causing the rifle to steady and time to slow, before firing off an amazing shot killing their opponent. The sniper rifle is an extremely powerful option, which motivated me to use it in most situations, but by the end of the game I was so damn sick and tired of seeing the slow motion bullet vision of my shots.
Enemy Front AI is terrible, and enemies often struggle to hide behind cover, and are all too prepared to come running head strong through doorways where a pile of dead bodies is already present. I found the most effective way to win missions was to snipe one or two guards then wait around a corner or through a doorway for the rest of the guards to come running through in single file. During other missions I would find guards looking in the wrong direction during fire fights or staying behind cover without firing until I moseyed on passed their defences and killed them point blank. The AI of your companions is also atrocious, with them being unable to kill enemies who are standing in the open, and with them often pushing you out from behind cover as they try to follow their own scripted path. All of these AI issues are further compounded by game play and graphical glitches. These glitches didn't happen too often but I find it extremely annoying when a game crashes during loading due to poor programming. The only upside of these glitches is the sweet joy you feel when you find an enemy or team mate firing an invisible gun.
Enemy Front offers a couple of standard online multiplayer match options with one new match type for players to try their hand at. Players can choose between deathmatch, radio transmission and team deathmatch. Deathmatch and team deathmatch are the standard game types for FPS multiplayer, but radio transmission offers a slight tweak to the map point capturing game type. Radio transmission matches see two opposing teams of up to 6 players fight it out to control varying map points in an effort to bounce a radio transmission through a level. I struggled to find many people online and due to a lack of dedicated servers suffered from massive pings unless I made my own server. This issue of high pings along with a lack of community support made the Enemy Front multiplayer a tedious endeavour.
As a whole the game looks dated with many of the enemy models being repeated, textures looking flat, and draw distances fluctuating, with objects sometimes appearing out of thin air.
This game would have been far more competitive visually at the start of the last console generation, but seems out of place in today's market. Having said this it is refreshing to be able to run a new game at full tilt graphically on my old rig and even with these graphical short comings some of the European environments did look beautiful. Also Enemy Front does have some of the best looking loading screens I have seen in a long while.
Overall Enemy Front does not live up to its hype, and falls short when compared to other modern shooters. It is great that CI Games chose to centre their story around the Warsaw Uprising, a conflict that has previously been untouched by games and film, but the story fails to engage the player, and the characters are not developed well. The terrible enemy AI further damages the single player campaign, making many of the missions more tedious then fun to complete. All this coupled with dated graphics, and a multiplayer system that doesn't bring much to the table, and lacks dedicated servers, means that the high price tag Enemy Front demands is not worth it for console gamers. I recommend buying this game through a digital distributor, when it's on sale, as a player should not expect to get more than eight to ten hours of game play out of it.
Even when taking into consideration the decent gun play, sometimes beautiful environments and great loading screens, I can only score Enemy Front as 4 out of 10.