Sitting down with Iron Front; Liberation 1944 has been an exercise in patience, and while there have been more titles that come out with bugs and issues than I care to recall. Generally however there was to surmount the kinds of issues that can come up, patches come out and so on. In this case however, what could potentially be a great WWII game has been an experience akin to a long visit to the dentist for several slow extractions and no painkillers. To be fair, when a lot of the issues such as the crashing between area transitions, or the graphical hiccups are largely fixable problems, and when they are fixed I suspect this title to be a more enjoyable experience.
The basic premise of Iron Front: Liberation 1944′s single player experience, is to place the player either on the German or Russian side of battle set in Poland. You’re either put on the line to block the Russian advance, or to force a breakthrough against the German defense. It’s interesting insofar as the setting goes though the accompanying story work either comes off rather stiff and uninteresting to down right long winded when you’re just wishing to get into the game and start tackling the campaigns or missions.
The gameplay and controls is where the real depth of play takes place and there’s a button for just about everything you can think of for this type of strategy shooter. No matter if you’re tackling the infantry component, taking your squad of tanks around the field, or in the air with period aircraft, you have a strong ability to direct yourself and your squad to suit your needs and plans. This level of control and order direction is great for players who really want to outline their plans of attack and get things just so, but for casual players it would be rather overwhelming to just jump into the game and start plugging away at the command schemes and action menus.
The single player campaigns aren’t terribly long, and the tutorial will give you a feel of the basics though there are gaps in what is and isn’t explained so you will be spending a great deal of time just trying to figure out exactly what can and can’t be done. Given the bugs and issues that were all over the place, right from the first actual action sequence I experienced, I spent more time trying to figure out what controls I could use and the latter half getting my ass shot off because I didn’t have a moment to identify where the enemy positions were relative to myself. I was more caught up in the menu selection choices to orchestrate my group of raw soldiers than looking for and hunting down the enemy.
Despite all that, there is fun to be had as you move along through the campaigns, and a great deal of potential should they add more content and fix things so you have a smoother time going from mission to mission. However, the real fun seems to be in the multiplayer that side steps all the vaguely written narrative scenes and headaches to just dump you into the multiplayer modes that are a lot more straight forward.
The multiplayer modes are quite a few standard types from your usual death match types, capture the flag types, and of course offensive, defensive battles that through a whole mess of players fighting it out against each other, each with a squad of men to control and order around. Mind you, to enjoy these big, massive battles you need to have the players available to join in for them, and it remains to be seen if those kinds of numbers will arrive to really make use of the big battle feature. It will also help if they can stay in the match through to completion, but that I expect will come in time also.
The one thing that stands out as things are right now is the map editor that is just about as extensive as you could ask for and if you’ve already played ArmA you already have a good idea what is all in there to play and fiddle with. So for those fans of DIY missions you can find all kinds of goodies to build and make missions and maps to challenge yourself or your friends beyond the game’s initial content.
Overall, and issues aside, Iron Front Liberation 1944 is an full on simulation title that deep Simulation and Strategy players will enjoy and find interesting to spend hours either exploring the variety of ways to order around your squads, negotiate missions, or join in on big multiplayer battles. However if you’re just looking for a WII shooter to jump in and play on the fly you might as well keep moving on as this one isn’t for the quick and dirty players. I tried to really enjoy this one as I’m usually interested in well simulated period titles that give a lot of control to players, however with all the issues, graphical hiccups, and buggy restarts, the immersion was broken frequently. I do plan to revisit this one with each patch that comes out and we’ll see how I feel in a couple months from now. However for the moment I would put this on your keep an eye on list rather than your pick it up now list.
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.