A long time ago, a game hit the market on PC named Battlefield 1942. It was a huge success and still has influence on the games we play today. One small team of modders made a total conversion which turned the game into a desert combat simulation. That team has now moved onto fully fledged development and the first game to be released is Frontlines Fuels of War. While Frontlines does do a few things different to Battlefield, there is no doubt where they got their inspiration.
This game is set in the not too distant future where oil reserves are as rare as hen's teeth and countries fight bloody wars over the control. It is a world where petrol is thirty four dollars a litre, and most of the oil usage is on war machines, ironically trying to capture more reserves. The opening cinematic is one of the most depressing and eye opening cinematics in a video game ever with mentions of avian influenza, the oil shortage and other problems the world currently faces. This is a cinematic that you really need to smell roses after to feel better about yourself.
Once the game itself actually begins you have a multitude of options to choose from. There is both a single player campaign and multiplayer component with multiplayer forming the main basis of the game. Basically if you don't have Xbox Live there is no point to buying this game. However the single player component holds up very well. The biggest compliment we can give is that it is a poor man's Call of Duty 4.
Instead of going the typical route of having single player just a bunch of multiplayer campaigns, they have included a storyline which includes capturing various frontlines to progress the story. While in reality it is just the multiplayer maps divvied up with a few new options, it's nice to see someone put an effort in rather than purely rely on the multiplayer.
The game itself plays very much like Battlefield. You choose a side and class and then proceed to capture frontline areas. As you capture frontlines, you can then bring recruits in and the team with the players left at the end of the war of attrition wins the map. Or you can win by capturing all the frontlines. The only mode in the retail version is the default frontlines mode but considering that option is in the game to change, there is probably some download content on its way to add more.
As you would expect with a Battlefield style game there is also a number of vehicles to choose from ranging from both land and air craft. One area where Kaos has really got it right is the control of air vehicles. There is no doubt that this is the easiest Battlefield style game yet in terms of controlling helicopters. Kaos obviously learnt a lot from their time with the Desert Combat series.
There are a few disappointments with the game however. The first is the key. It is just too close to Battlefield and doesn't really offer that much difference to the ever popular Battlefield 2 on PC. It is also a game where you can walk for seemingly miles and not see a single player, even on the packed servers which Kaos are hosting. With multiplayer it's going to rely on a lot of people purchasing the game and during our playtest, which occurred after the retail release, we didn't see all that much activity on the live servers which leads us to fear the legs this game has. The other really frustrating problem is the enemy AI. It's not bad per se; it's just that they take a million bullets to take down, even at close range. You can literally pump half an entire clip into an enemy and they may still be alive.
The maps also aren't varied enough. There is both vegetation and desert maps but there are none set in snow on any other extreme conditions. Considering the world is on the brink of devastation, you would think that setting the game all around the world in various environments would fit right in. Finally the graphics really are nothing to write home about. This was to be expected given the size and the scope of the game, and they are better than the competing Battlefield 360 title, but that game came out a long time ago and people's expectations are changing.
Frontlines: Fuels of War was an interesting idea that Kaos did not take as far as it creatively could have and ultimately we end up with yet another Battlefield style game. The key factor is going to be how much legs the game has online, but one area where Kaos must gain credit is single player because it is one of the best components of the game - something we did not expect going in. We really hope Kaos is working on downloadable content because this idea and setting has such potential, it's just a shame they decided to stay so close to what obviously was the inspiration.