Arriving from CI Games, best known for their Sniper: Ghost Warrior series, the studio has continued their trend of creating average stealth games with their latest release: Enemy Front. Playing as Robert Hawkins, an American war correspondent determined to accurately portray the struggles and heroics of war; you fight alongside the resistance who strive to cripple and overthrow the ruthless Nazi army. Unfortunately this is one boring tale that isn’t likely to give even the biggest war fanatic any enjoyment. Characters are lifeless, often taking up the form of hideous stereotypes, meanwhile delivering uninspired and generic dialogue. The narratives presentation is certainly not helped either by the badly directed cutscenes, janky animations, and horribly compressed cutscenes. Thankfully these moments of narrative are short and fairly infrequent, meaning that players can quickly jump back into shooting Nazi’s in the face, or stabbing them brutally in the back of the neck.
For a game that involves working behind enemy lines and taking on risky sabotage missions, the game world is far from perilous, especially as you can make short work of entire Nazi squads at once. Yes, ironically enough, this ‘stealth’ game features very dumb AI to the point where you can complete entire missions or objectives simply by running past them. Even if you find yourself heavily outgunned, 9 times out of 10 you will be able to gun them down with little thought or effort, and this is where Enemy Front’s biggest flaw bleeds through. There is really no benefit at all, or even incentive to play stealthily at any point. As much as the game would like to encourage you to play in such a manner with silenced weapons available to find, loud noises to conceal your gunfire, and even distractions to create, it’s much easier, and much more time efficient to run into each scenario all guns blazing and killing everything in sight. When alerted, enemies will break into an uncoordinated frenzy as they scramble around trying to kill you, and try their absolute best to get killed as quickly as possible. They will spontaneously run out of cover straight into the open, fail completely at a flank attempt, or stand within an inch from you and open fire. There is no thought to their actions, and this makes combat an easy and unchallenging affair. Playing in a stealth manner yields more fun, though the patience needed for this is rather high, and the trial and error nature of it results in a tedious experience that is better left avoided in most cases. Even when a tank or a group of enemies are brought in as a result of being alerted to your presence, there are always plenty of weapons and explosives conveniently placed around that it never feels like you are being punished for your ruthless play style.
It also doesn’t help that the gunplay in the game is very simple and light, with guns having an arcade-like feel to them no matter what you may be firing. This under-developed gunplay is functional alongside the stealth play style, but in all-out combat it feels weak and incredibly underwhelming. After a few levels of running and gunning, the combat becomes very unrewarding and you will be wishing for each enemy encounter to finish as quickly as possible, with every level becoming increasingly duller as it progresses.
Enemy Front promises to deliver on “open-ended levels and a richly interactive combat experience that breaks out of the standard model of highly linear scripted FPS experiences”. While the game can *just* about say that these claims have been achieved, they are laughably overstated to the point where you will question if you are playing a different game to the one described on the back of the box. For a start, not all of these missions allow for the open-ended levels, with pretty much a 50/50 split between extremely linear action-focussed levels, and the more open stealth-focussed levels. When stealth is introduced as a factor of play, these levels do open for multiple routes. Despite this however, the levels never appear to be that big, so as a result it’s hard to find too many paths that could be taken. Some levels open up for some interesting opportunities, but most feel uninspired and expansive for the sake of being expansive. In reality there are about 3 ways maximum to be completing just some of these levels, and you are unlikely to want to play the campaign again, turning these scenarios into a one-time thrill. There are a fair amount of levels to boot too, it’s just a shame that they can all be completed in less than 8 hours. At least each level has a different kind of setting however, meaning that even though they lack in creative freedom, you do at least have somewhere different to slowly creep through, or spill Nazi blood within.
In an attempt to break up the linearity of the campaign, the game enjoys to throw additional objectives into the mix every now and then. This is all well and good, but 99% of these objectives reward you with nothing at all, making them not worth the hassle. The whole affair is a complete design oversight, and not completing them has no effect whatsoever on how the story plays out. The game also offers choice to the player at certain times, giving them a choice of what weapon to use for certain levels, or for what order to tackle objectives in, but ultimately none of these have much effect on the gameplay. This is especially true as those events are so infrequent throughout the campaign, even though the first mission would have you believing that it’s a key mechanic of the game. It’s an okay idea, but it’s so half-baked that it’s almost as if the developers forgot that they wanted it in there. There are secrets that are incorporated into each level too, all of which are badly hidden and totally pointless to collect. As far as I am aware, you gain nothing for collecting them other than a personal pat on the back. Once again it’s another ill-conceived idea that feels totally unnecessary.
The multiplayer component of the game is an extremely barebones affair, offering little depth, and displaying even less of a production value. It really does feel unnecessarily tacked on, and it’s a feature that wouldn’t break the game if it weren’t present. Only three game modes are included in this package: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Radio Transmission. Though it is a variant of a ‘Domination’ game mode, Radio Transmission does at least try to change things up in a way I haven’t seen before. Your aim is for you and your team to take control of radios scattered across each map, and hold them for as long as possible. Captured radios increase your teams point total, with the winner being whoever reached the score limit first. However, what this game does differently is allow a boost in score if you have radios captured that are in close proximity to each other. This can make for some interesting offensive/defensive tactics, and it is a welcome change to the otherwise bog-standard gameplay offering. Though the multiplayer is dire, it’s good to see that some creativity (albeit only a slither) was spared at some point down the line.
As mentioned previously, the shooting mechanics are very basic here, and feel comfortable on the backdrop of the stealth gameplay. Though when placed in straight-up competitive action, the fighting falls flat with a distinctly primitive flavour. The shooting is in fact made worse in this part of the game through a significant lack of feedback when shooting players, resulting in jarring moments of conflict. The hit-markers from the singleplayer are strangely missing here, and without them the player is left doubting whether or not they are hitting anyone at all. The shooting woes don’t end there however, with the audio going wild and sounding as though everything in the map is happening within an ears reach. Grenades and gunfire from the other side of the map sounds as though it’s coming from next to you, knocking the player into a state of confusion and unable to gather their bearings within the action. It’s totally ridiculous, and very off-putting, likely to make a lot of players give up after a match or two.
The arcade-like gun handling might have worked a bit better had the pacing of the multiplayer been much faster overall, but because the maps are fairly large in size in comparison to the maximum 12 player count, the team games can become frustrating slow paced as players wildly search across the maps hoping to catch a faint scent of their foes. The Deathmatch game mode holds up better and sustains a fairly high pacing throughout, that is if you are within a server that has hit full capacity, a sight you will rarely witness thanks to an incredibly low player-base. This is a game with barely any servers, and a game with barely any players ever playing at the same time. For the most part, trying to find a match becomes a fruitless endeavour, and this doesn’t surprise at all considering the poor quality.
Of what few maps that are on offer here, very little of them hold much interest. Stripped from the singleplayer levels, the maps aren’t well designed for multiplayer, and without proper considerations for choke points, sniping points, flanking etc. they feel weak to fight in. The only map that is fairly enjoyable to play is ‘French Town’, a dense scene involving many interior locations and plenty of height. Unfortunately however, this map is too busy for its own good, making for some confusing fights, and frequent cat-and-mouse hunting moments that become incredibly tedious.
If you thought that the game couldn’t be any more tarnished than it is, you were wrong, it has its own fair share of frequent bugs that add up as the cherry on top. One particular bug that happened a few times was having the mouse cursor stuck on the screen after leaving the pause menu. The only way of removing this was to quit the game entirely, and boot it up again, causing a lot of frustration. Other favourites were having characters furiously shaking around while animating and interacting with the player, enemies getting stuck inside the floor, and enemies not being tagged on the map while using binoculars.
Enemy Front is a game that is hard to recommend, and one that if released 10 years ago, would have fared a hell of a lot better. The truth is, FPS games have developed a lot within the last decade, and CI Games efforts in 2014 simply don’t make the cut. The shooting feels very primitive, the game poorly designed, and a handful of AI flaws go further to hamper the experience. While there are some nice ideas thrown into the mix such as the open environments and choices, these are either few and far between, or completely overstated. Unless you want a slice of (unintentionally) nostalgic gameplay, you will want to give this game a miss.
- It’s not a ‘Modern Warfare’ shooter.
- Playing stealthy can be fun (occasionally).
- Countryside locations are refreshing on the eyes.
- Radio Transmission is an okay multiplayer mode.
- Gameplay is old-fashioned and somewhat fun for the first hour or two.
- …then it starts to grate and become repetitious.
- Gunplay is very primitive.
- Horrendously stupid AI.
- Not enough gameplay choices for the player.
- ‘Open’ levels are overstated.
- Terrible multiplayer.
- Campaign is pretty short.
- Boring narrative, with even duller characters.
- Various graphical and gameplay bugs throughout.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.