The point of this list was that it was supposed to be released last December.., which I forgot to do so my bad, its meant to be about the games that were released in 2012 that I really liked but the list is released in 2013 so to cover games were not able to get to until 2013

1.The Walking Dead

2.Far Cry 3

3. Dishonored

4. Spec- Ops the Line

5. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

6. Sleeping Dogs

7.Assassins Creed 3

8. Mass Effect 3

9. Max Payne 3

10. Ghost Recon Future Solider

Image

    American Nightmare is an interesting addition into the Alan Wake series as it’s not a real sequel nor a DLC for the first game but rather a spin off with some new ideas and while not completely forwarding the narrative but rather creative it’s own tale. An interesting idea, but does this “spin-off” provide the Alan Wake experience or does it miss the mark?

Image
   
    The people at Remedy have created an interesting small advance but complete narrative in this downloaded game with the narrative of American Nightmare placing Alan into kinda the tv show seen in the first game Night Springs (based off of The Twilight Zone) as he finds himself in Night Springs facing his evil double Mr. Scratch (seen at the end of Alan Wake) which he must try and defeat while trying not to get killed by The Darkness. The area you’re in is no longer the forests of Oregon but rather the deserts of Arizona which provides some pretty cool creepy areas like a motel, diner and even an old fashioned drive in movie theater.

    With game play it’s quite similar to the first game with light vs darkness with guns aspect to it, but rather it adds more of an action component with the addition of more lets same actiony weapons like a Uzi, assault rifle and assault shotgun which while taken away more of the atmospheric ness to in the realm of survival horror it does add a fun arcadey feel to it. Manuscripts return in this game and even provide a gameplay aspect with you being able to obtain higher level weapons by collecting more and more which can make later play throughs quite easier although it does take away some of the survival aspect of the game when you can grab the magnum right off the bat rather then having to use the nail gun or 9mm for the first little bit.

Image
  

Speaking of arcadeyness the game adds a cool little survival mode to it with Alan having to survive ten minutes against increasing larger and tougher enemies such as the new to this game heavy and birdman enemies that are thrown in one round at a time as the night turns into the dawn and the Darkness is washed away by the sun. During the arcade sequence you start off with a simple 9mm pistol but by collecting manuscripts during the single player you can used them to unlock higher level weapons in the maps like the Uzi, a hunting rifle, or magnum which really helps even the odds. 

    Long Story Short: All in all American Nightmare is a fine experince for both Alan Wake fans and non-fans alike providing a fun experience in the form of gameplay and narrative and while is a bit “watered down” experience when compared to the first game it does provide a fun time for those waiting for a Alan Wake season 2.

 

The Good

  • Story
  • Characters

The Bad

The Ugly

  • A bit watered down

 

Alan Wake

Posted: 01/22/2014 in Uncategorized

Image

 

Making an unique and creepy atmosphere in a video game can be pretty difficult especially when you’re making a horror game and add in a strong character and this week were doing two games that try that both developed by Remedy (creators of the Max Payne series), Alan Wake (2010) and a spin off Alan Wake American Nightmare (2012).

Image

    Alan Wake is about one Alan Wake (of course) a character that’s kinda based of a Stephen King but one I found really felt like one of Stephen Kings creations Mort Rainey from Secret Window. I say this as Alan Wake is a famous writer akin to King but instead of horror he writes crime stories but like Rainey he suffers from some psychological issues as Alan has a bad combo for a writer with both insomnia and writers block both of which leads Alan to try out a vaction to the town of Bright Falls to help sort it out. As a character Alan Wake is an interesting protagonist to watch as he’s not what you would call a standard game hero but rather he’s more reluctant and green one and while not a coward he’s not some barrel chested space marine or grizzled detective but rather just a writer, he wears a jacket with elbow pads (I think that’s what you call them) for god sakes and I really like to see a protagonist that’s not your typical space marine or hard boiled cop and that’s a rare thing to see nowadays.           

    The narrative follows Alan as he takes a well needed vacation to the small Pacfica town of Bright Falls that is clearly modeled on the town from Twin Peaks as is much of the story (dark past/weird old lady/quirky young lady), he’s joined by his wife and both of them set up in a cabin on a island on a lake nearby. After a series of events Alan’s wife is taken from him and he must face a old and powerful force known simply as The Darkness that has taken his wife and threatens his life. The narrative of Alan Wake I found to be quite an interesting and while not entirely unique story it does some interesting things that I found to be very very cool and was gripping to me that throws in some twists and turns along the way with a really nice atmosphere along with it that adds to the eerieness factor with the game sending you through some pretty creepy areas like an abandoned mining camp, quite a bit of forests and a large farm area all of which look pretty cool and are just pretty fun to explore.
   
Image

    Gameplay wise the game mixes some pretty standard gunplay with some unique gameplay actions into something quite interesting. The main force of the Darkness comes in the form of Taken humans that have been possessed with The Darkness and must be taken out with a pretty cool idea and that idea is light. Your main weapon in this game is light as the best way to take out the Taken which is done with a variety of ways with mainly flashlights to burn off there protective layer and then use guns to finish them off or use things like flares and flash bangs which don’t need guns to take out the Taken. Other then the whole light weapon thing that game is a pretty basic 3rd person shooter with a handful of guns at your disposal which I guess can be pretty grating when on easier difficulty when there’s plenty of resources it can be a cake walk to deal with the Taken and to some might be quite repative.  I guess you could say that playing on a lesser difficulty can end up being  a bit too easy on Easy mode which can have you ignoring a lot of the atmosphere in the game and surroundings as you blow through the areas which takes a lot out the game in the form of experience, so I would suggest playing it on a harder difficulty to get a really good experience.

One thing I didn’t like though is how the story is broken up like a tv show. I mean that the narrative chapters are broken up into episodes that are about to 2 ½ to 3 hrs more or less. This is annoying as every 2 ½ to 3 hrs you get a cliffhanger and the episode ends but then starts the next chapter with a “Last Time” segment which if your playing for more then a episode at a time your basically showing you what you just played which make me go “I know, I was just there”. This may have worked if this was like a Tell Tale game like The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us where episodes are released sometimes a month at a time but for a regular disc game this comes off as a bit annoying, maybe Remedy was planning something like that but as stated before it just comes off as grating and unnecessary. Another annoying is found in that of product placement with you using straight up Energizer batteries and you use a Verizon phone plus a one point a tv plays two real life commercials for Verizon and a car company both of which made me role my eyes at.
               
Image
   

Long Story Short: Alan Wake provides a pretty good experience if you like a game with great atmosphere and narrative with a unique protagonist that adds a pretty cool game play mechanic using simply light but you might have too overlook little things like product placement and maybe some repetitive game play.  

The Good

  • Atmospheric
  • Story
  • Characters

The Bad

The Ugly

  • Some repative gameplay
  • Product Placement

 

 

Just Cause

Posted: 08/09/2013 in Uncategorized

 

Image

The first couple of years of a new console are always weird ones mainly in the terms of games, particularly in games that appear on both the new and the old console. These issues can include problems with glitches, graphics and can look particularly dated when compared to later games as they strongly come off as antiquated (although some games age poorly). Three such console era spawning games include Just Cause, GUN and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat all three of which I will be reviewing next with Just Cause be reviewing today.

            Just Cause is a open world game set on the Caribbean island of San Esperanto a tropical “paradise” that is ripe for political instability and this is where we start the narrative for the story with a American organization simply called “The Agency” which while not given much detail it seems to be a stand in for the C.I.A. “The Agency” sends in three agents which include one Tom Sheldon (think Bruce Campbell from  Burn Notice) and Maria Kane (think Tanya from Red Alert), last but not least is Rico Rodrigez the svauve and handsome protagonist for the game (think Antonio Banderas as James Bond) and these three have been tasked to overthrow the dictatorship of one Salvador Mendoza. But the trio will have some help from two locations, the local guerilla resistance under Jose Caramicas and his sister Ezperanza and a local drug cartel lead by Edmundo Palmiera and his lovely wife Inmaculda.

Image

            The story itself is not too bad with the story missions have a nice variety to them ranging from a prison break, to an assassination misson involving a yacht and another hit at an airport all the way to James Bondy missions like destroying a nuclear reactor and later a WMD lab on top of a mountain complete with jumping off a cliff and parachuting away from a massive explosion. With that said the missions can be quite simple with go to point A and kill/blow shit up/collect and get out of there with most missions usually lasting about 10 to 15 minutes depending on your skill which for reviewing sake is pretty nice (especially when you gotta get through it in a weekend) but for all those non-reviewers the story is relative short, although the game does make it up with A LOT of side stuff to do.

            Side stuff comes in spades with Just Cause with an variety of things you can do outside of story missions. The main thing you’ll encounter is Liberation Missions which are ways to free villages/villas/farms/encampments from Mendoza or Montano control but accepting said missions for the Guerilla and Riojas respectfully. While there are quite a lot of these missions (a little over 3 dozen) but the missions are quite simple and you can get through them pretty quick as the missions involves 3 steps, blow up a bunch of barricades leading up to step 2 which is a flag pull where you can raise a flag of either Rjoas or Guerilla after you do step 3 which is to kill all enemies in said location. After said liberation you can use as a fast travel location and a place you can get another side item which are side missions given to you by the allies which can range from go to point A and collect item or kill someone, steal vehicle and drive it back to a garage with said missions be simple and something you can burn through to rise in rank in both the Guerilla and Rioja cartel with ranks giving rewards such as new outposts that serve as a place to get new weapons and refill both your ammo and health. You can find these places on your rather shitty map that you have that you can BARELY zoom in on and you can’t see really anything close in so you can play a route or anything and is one of the WORST in game maps I have same.

Image

Gameplay is pretty simple with it being a 3rd person action as Rico utilizes the two major areas of game play  which are combat and the driving of vehicles of land, air, and sea. The combat is pretty simple with Rico being able to use a multitude of weapons that you can use to overthrow Mendoza such a assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, rocket launchers as well as throwable weapons such as grenades and C4. Although the combat feels pretty antiquated as I play it now (2013) when I look at other games such as Red Dead Redemption and the Saboteur with similar game play areas of sandbox and gunplay but that can be chalked up to it simply not aging well with the guns not having much in the ways of variety as well as the movements of the characters feeling simply janky in how they move and act epically in the way of A.I. Speaking of A.I the enemies you face throughout the game are pretty easy to take down as there combat skills rank up there with the of Cobra as they tend not to take cover and they go down quite easy and the biggest threat mainly happens from enemy heavy vehicles. The driving aspect has aged a bit better with you having the ability to control vehicles that you can drive all over the land, sea, and even air on and around San Esperanto. These vehicles feel pretty good to use with the controls being tight and well done with the expectation of many of the air vehicles do indeed have pretty poor controls with several having poor maneuverability and can be a pain to use another vehicle and do some parasailing.

A major aspect and ability of Rico is his “stunt” skills with driving which can be used anytime as Rico can jump from a speeding vehicle to another vehicle that driving right next to Rico or he can simply activate his parachute and even use the grabbling hook to attach your self to A interesting piece of Rico’s gear comes in the form of two things, his grabbling hook and parachute both of which play important parts in the game with the grabbling hook being used to attach yourself to any vehicle for a distance which then has you fly over to the vehicle quite quickly where you can then hijack with the parachute being used in case you want to get out of a burning aircraft and land safely or you simply want to do some base jumping off a bridge or a nice cliff. With that said, use of the grappling hook in some situations can be a real pain in the ass as precision can be difficult as there’s no way (or at least that I found) to change targets so to get a fix on a target with that you want to grapple to can be frustrating especially when parachuting as controlling the camera when parachuting can be a real pain.

Long Story Short: Just Cause is a bit of mixed bag of interesting ideas and game play that comes with janky controls and certain aspects of game play such as poor enemy A.I. All in all it’s a pretty interesting and engaging game that I would have to recommend as while there are problems it’s pretty fun to play even with its various issues as above it all you’ll more then likely going to have a pretty entertaining time

THE GOOD

  • Interesting characters
  • PLENTY of Stuff to do

THE BAD

  • Janky combat
  • Map

THE UGLY

  • Antiquated feeling

*All images from http://www.giantbomb.com

Crackdown

Posted: 07/27/2013 in Game Reviews

 

            Image

The open world sandbox genre has often had you in the boots of a criminal like in the Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row series, but what about on the other side of the equation, what about the badge side? Well so games have you like the True Crime series and the game Sleeping Dogs as well as the game I’m reviewing this time Crackdown and on top of giving you a badge and a gun, the game even gives you superpowers. But are the superpowers you get put this game above the rest, or does it fall flat?

            The game sets you in Pacific City, a modernish urban setting called Pacific City which is set on 3 islands complete with an industrial, residential, and commercial setting with various landmarks sprinkled around. As most sandbox games, the city itself can be a character and Pacific City is no different with the city varying across the map with apartment blocks to beach boardwalks to sky scrappers to factories and power plants that the difference in I found to be pretty cool to explore and jump around using your abilities.

Image

The narrative itself sets the stage of a city besieged by crime and gangs across these 3 islands with each island being dominated by 3 separate powerful gangs. Each gang has its own “theme” to it with Los Muertos (Mexican Cartel), Volk (Russian Mafia) and the Shai-Gen Corp (Yakuza) making life for the citizens of Pacific City a living hell. To help combat these threats an organization simply call “The Agency” has used cutting edge genetic engineering to create a solution to this hell in the form of the player character also simply called “The Agent”. The Agent is imbued with several upgrades to standard humans such as an increased healing factor mixed with enhanced speed and strength of which you end up upgrading throughout the game.

Other then what I said above the narrative of the game doesn’t really expand from there outside the dossiers you get on each of the 21 gang bosses that you have to eliminate along the way with each gang having 6 underbosses and one gang leader. A cool thing though is that you can go after each boss as you see fit although when you get close to one the Agency Director (whose voice acting is pretty cool) will give you odds based on your current level of ablates and weapons and you can chose weather or not you wanna roll those dice.

Image

Before I get into the gameplay I want to mention a major part of the game which comes in the form of a cool aspect with 5 upgradeable abilities for your Agent in the form of Shooting, Driving, Agility, Explosives, and Strength with each being upgraded with the collection of colored Orbs that correlate to the ability. As you collect more Orbs as you use those abilities such as killing enemies with guns gets you Shooting and gets you better accuracy, using melee gets you Strength and higher levels of that allows you to pick op heavy objects like cars and using grenades and rockets will get you Explosives and can make your explosives more powerful and larger. Driving and Agility Orbs are gained via races across Pacific City as well as having Agility Orbs strewn across the rooftops and alleyway giving someone who loves collectibles plenty of things to do.

            Speaking of abilities and weapons, the game play of Crackdown is that of a third person shooter with driving and some platforming thrown in. First the shooting which plays a major part is pretty basic with a simple “lock-on” format. For weapons you have access to a variety of tools of destruction in the form of assault and snipe rifles, pistols, shotguns and even rocket launchers and grenade launchers although many of the weapons are really not that good with many just not being that accurate or powerful leaving me to use about two to three of the same weapons for 75% of the game. Second, third person platforming plays a major part with you having to traverse the city both horizontally and vertically to achieve your goals which becomes easier as you level up your agility ability. Third and defiantly least is the driving mechanic in the game, and it’s not at all good. The driving is at best sub par with car handling to be basically not at all well making high speed maneuvering a pain in the ass to master and in the city next to impossible unless you want to plow into a bunch of civilians. Plus the Ability Orbs can easily get your speed and jumping up to such as point early on that you’ll never really have to drive which makes the driving that much more pointless.

            Combat plays an important role in the game and I have mixed feeling about it on a couple of levels. First, the enemy A.I is at best middling but aggressive with enemy troops being not very bright in the form of cover but god damn they make up for it in sheer numbers as well as there tenacity to go down fighting and frequently I’ve had to retreat simply to take a breather. I don’t mind aggressive A.I but I did find it pretty annoying when the enemy feels less like human gang members and more like swarms of enemy drones. Also as stated above the weapons of the game aren’t really what I would call diverse with each gang basically using the same weapons making it seem like the only real difference is different vehicles (somehow the Volk got a whole lot of fucking SCUD missile launcher into the country) and only like 3 weapons being useful.

Image

Long Story Short: All in all, Crackdown is a mixed bag of a game. The platforming and combat parts of the game IMHO are pretty good and give Crackdown a unique edge over other sand box games of the like. But little things such as a lack of narrative and terrible driving controls knocks it down a little making the game feel like less of  story and more of a plat form for testing out ideas, good ideas but the ideas don’t really feel that fleshed out which is quite unfortunate. That’s not to say it’s not a fun play, actually it’s really fun just to jump around the city and mow down enemy soldiers before throwing a semi at them, it’s just not really something to write home about.

THE GOOD

  • Platforming
  • Combat

THE BAD

  • Driving

THE UGLY

  • Lack of Narrative
  • Lack of Weapon diversity

*All images from http://www.giantbomb,com

Image

            I’m a HUGE fan of alternate history, I love fiction that asks “what if?” of history and I’ve become a fan of writers such as Harry Turtledove with his works such as the very well done Timeline 191 series (where the Confederate States of America wins the American Civil War and follows the American continent from 1914 to 1945). I’ve also had the pleasure of games such as Freedom Fighters and Command and Conquer Red Alert which both follow a third world war between the west and Soviet Union. So when I heard about a game which takes place in a universe where the Nazis won World War II I was pretty pumped about it to the point where I pre-ordered the game (something I rarely did at the time). So how did they game fair, did it meet expectations and meet up with games such as Freedom Fighters and Red Alert or did it go down like the Allies in this dystopian future past?

            The back story of Turning Point diverts from our world when by instead of merely earning a permanent limp, Winston Churchill dies in 1931 after being hit by a taxi in New York city. Without the leadership and of Churchill, Great Britain loses the Battle of Britain and ends up with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin surrendering in 1940. Unopposed in the West, the German war machine full force is unleashed on the Soviet Union and makes quick work of the Stalin and the Red Army. The rest of the Axis forces lie unopposed with Japan quickly grabbing up the Pacific and the Italians conquering North Africa and throughout all events the United States remains neutral under the leadership of President Dewey. As the world grows smaller for democracy, the Axis grows stronger in force and technology as they have the resources to pursue the Wunderwaffe (Germany’s wonder weapons program) such as the Messerschmitt 262 and the Landkreuzer heavy tank program. After such progress the Greater German Reich at the start of the 1950’s sets its conquest views on the now weak United States.

Image

            The narrative of the game begins in 1953 with your protagonist by the name of Carson, a construction worker on the high metal girders in New York City. The German invasion begins and Carson begins his part in the American resistance as he fights his way down quite linearly down to the streets of the NYC. The games narrative from this point is pretty eh in my honest opinion as you pretty much are shuffled from one point to another through extremely linear sections where you fight German after German. The story is also pretty linear with you also being shuffled from one story “beat after another” such as having to go from New York to Washington to Philadelphia to London with little to no finesse other then “were done here, let’s go” and even the missions themselves feel that way. The games narrative is pretty bare bones in the form in detail as your character is given no real voice or depth nor is another character. Another issue with the games narrative is the length with it being only about 5 hours more or less which compared to other FPS games out there is pretty short, yeah Call of Duty does that but it gets away with it solely by having a kickass multiplayer which while Turning Point does have a multiplayer component to it, it’s pretty bleh and not at all worthwhile.

            The game play itself is also pretty barebones and not what I would call outstanding with it being extremely generic. Like many other shooters you get access to a variety of weapons both real-life such as a M1 Garand, M1911 Colt, and Springfield rifle to fictional Wunderwaffe weapons such as a MP50 (why not MP44? why did they go with a submachine gun rather then assault rifle?) or night vision Vampire sniper rifle which you can use via your standard run of the mill “you got 2 weapons” plus grenades. It’s a pretty standard shooter to the point where it can get really fucking grueling as you mow down dozens of Germans after dozens of German in your linear combat encounters. I guess if there is something about this game that is unique is some “interesting” ways the game has you get around such as having you go hand over hand on a overhanging pipe or ledge to get over a crevice that feels really really weird to do as you do it in a third person view. As I said before the missions are pretty linear with a real A to B to C format with very little deviation to the format as you go through what feels like corridor after corridor even when you’re in the middle of the street. Another aspect of combat that I don’t see much is that if you get up close to an enemy you can use them as a human shield which I rarely for two reasons, the first being that your shield gets mowed down pretty quickly and you don’t use your own weapon rather pulling out the enemies pistol with only one clip of ammo making it not worth it other then to deal with a couple of enemies.

Image

            The characters (both friend and foe) of Turning Point are not much better with your foe in is the much done and redone Nazi horde. Your encounters with them like the missions are pretty linear and grating as you encounter pretty much combat encounter after encounter against them with little deviation like a heavy or even a tank to mix things up (other then in some pretty bland and straight foreword “place bomb on back/bottom or use this rocket launcher that’s conveniently here). You also get what can be generously called “backup” in the form of American resistance buddies who provide really only basic bullet distraction and a rare chance to get some ammo for a non-German weapon when they eventually go down quicker then a Shanghai whore for 20 bucks. For both your friend and foe they seem to share the same run of the mill A.I that henchmen of super villains share where they come at you more or less one at a time with little change of tactic other then hid behind cover till you either shot them when they pop up or you can flank them during a rare chance that you have enough room to maneuver to make a flank possible.

           

            NICKPICK TIME

            Little thing about Turning Point also manages to annoy me other then the whole game play and linear narrative. Some points of the narrative don’t really connect well especially with some of the tactical moves both the Nazis and the Resistance make. Such moves as the Germans beginning there invasion of New York with a paratrooper drop over the city which is an incredibly stupid move as you’ll simply get a lot of troops stuck on roof tops/cut off from allies which you encounter with a parachuted German getting stuck on a girder. Moves of the resistance also make little sense such as a full frontal attack on the Nazi occupied White House simply to kill the puppet President that the Nazi’s have set up (who the Nazi’s could easily replace) and end up blowing up the White House (for some reason, seems like keeping it intact could be a moral boost). Others include TV broadcasts with a TV announcer who for some reason the Germans allow to continue broadcasting even with many times he makes sympathetic remarks about the resistance.

Image

Long Story Short: All in all, the game isn’t very good with both spotty and bland game play that can get really grating in the long run as well as both extremely linear missions and a paper thin narrative with barely even 2D characters. I got this game for less then $5 at a GameStop and if not for my love of alternate history I would have felt cheated at that price which make me really really glad I failed to pick up my pre-order, which for $65 I would have felt like the game jumped me in an ally and stole my wallet and it’s a damn shame as if the creators of the game had done this right, I feel like it could be a pretty interesting game rather then the massive disappointment that we ended up with.

Side Note: After the game ended up with bad reviews the developers of the game got pretty butt hurt and explained that “it was made for casual gamers rather then hardcore ones and reviewers are too harsh on casual games”. In reaction I have to say that if you intend to make a causal game, then you need to sell it as such rather then how the did before the release making the game seem bigger then what we got. Also selling it for 60 bucks doesn’t help your argument for this being a casual game, if you sold it for something like $20 makes it would have made it easier to swallow this.

THE GOOD

  • Ideas
  • Setting

THE BAD

  • Glitches
  • Very linear gameplay and story

THE UGLY

  • Framerate
  • Execution

Frontlines: Fuel of War

Posted: 07/19/2013 in Game Reviews

333379-frontlines___360

 

Few games have touched directly on the potential future of the dwindling petroleum resources in the world with some hinting at them even fewer have gotten into the potential end result what will happen when the oil wells run dry across the globe. The game I’m reviewing this time uses this in its plot line, setting the stage for a third world war between the West and East over the last reserves of black gold.

Frontlines narrative begins with a little back-story by (more or less) the protagonist of the story giving exposition and explains what has lead to this new Cold War of 2024 between the East and West. He explains that over the last 20 years global stability has weakened with depleting oil resources resulting in rising gas prices and severe blackouts in 2008, a deeply flu pandemic in 2009 and a global depression in 2012 has pushed both the Western nations (United States + Europe) and Eastern nations (Russia + China) towards war with each side forming the military alliances of the Western Coalition and Red Star Alliance respectfully (thanks fictional Obama). The current global stage (as of 2024) has the Western Coalition and the Red Star Alliance eyeing each other down over the last oil deposits that lay in and around the Caspian Sea.

Image

The games narrative follows a reporter for the Associated Press that has been embedded with a Western Coalition unit nicknamed the Stray Dogs. His time with them is seen in-between missions during cut scenes as he interacts with soldiers of the Stray Dogs and as be gives exposition on the current state of WWIII. He seems like a pretty cool guy but unfortunately he’s the only character given more then just a basic personality (of the few characters you see) and it’s just a little above basic and sadly of the few characters you meet none of them are really that great or memorable.

The missions themselves you play I found to be pretty cool and fun with you combating Red Star forces along the Caspian Sea in countries such as Kazakhstan or Tajikistan and even into Russia herself. The storyline only really progress through the cut scenes and not through the battle itself with the battle being mainly a combat situation like a multiplayer game of Battlefield or Star Wars: Battlefront with less of story and more of a set of objectives you have to achieve such as taking a motor pool/command post, holding a position against the enemy hordes or destroying a radar station or fuel depot with a piece of well placed C4. The lack of battlefield narrative (outside of your contribution to war effort) I did find a bit disappointing but it does do the job of giving you a window in the narrative of the war.

The battlefields themselves you encounter along the game find yourself fighting in I found to be some of the best I’ve seen in a game. Like I saw with Battlefield Bad Company these battlefields are not quite liner but rather open ended more or less with you being given objectives to take or destroy and you have a variety of ways to achieve those objectives in the realm of strategies such as which way to attack a motor pool with you being able to charge the front gates, go in through the back, or bust open a hole in the side walls. Also like Battlefield Bad Company there not really aesthetically varied with a lot of dirt, rock, and grass mixed with Eastern European/Balkans villages/cities that doesn’t really come in many shades other then shades of green, gray, and brown.

Image

While you’re introduced and shown the story of AP reporter and the Stray Dog, you won’t be playing a single character through the story but rather like Star Wars: Battlefront or the Battlefield series before Bad Company you’ll be playing as deployable troops that you can choose a class to play as on your deployment. The classes of soldier you have access to will depend on the mission and what weapons you will have access to at first. The classes as stated before will give you a certain weapon on initial deployment such as Riflemen getting a assault rifle, Scout getting a sniper rifle, Spec-Ops getting a silenced sub machine gun and Anti-Infantry getting a shotgun and rocket launcher

The game play of Frontlines is a shooter first and foremost with some interesting aspects and less than spectacular aspects thrown in. With it being a shooter you’re given access to a large arsenal of near future weaponry of assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, shotguns, submachine guns etc and interestingly enough both sides of the conflict get there own unique weaponry reflective of there own factions such as Western Alliance having machine guns based on the M249 and an assault rifle based on the XM8 while the Red Star Alliance gets there assault rifle based on the AK series and a machine gun based on the PK series.

You will also be able to use vehicles that you can use to achieve your goals, although they will be less then useful then the drones. Each faction like weapons and gear you can use vehicles such as tanks, IFVs, 4X4 FAV and even drivable attack helicopters that you can obtain through the missions that are either given to you or you can scavenge from the enemy. These vehicles will mostly be used by you for combat assistance or simply for radily getting from point A to point B although in the transversal department will be mainly be a pain in the ass. To be blunt the driving controls are really shitty with speed and direction controls being set to one control stick so you’ll have fight with it to change direction in you want to maintain speed and you’ll usually being forced to stop often and awkwardly if you want to navigate tight quarters making urban warfare in a vehicle really hard to master or simply even do with any sort of skill.

Image

On top of an arsenal of guns you will also be able to use unique unmanned robotic drones to help win the day with each side getting there own special robotic weapons to serve there cause. These drones play a relativity important role in the game as in certain situations and on higher difficulty levels they can mean the difference between failure and victory. The drones come more or less in two flavors, recon and assault with a cool aspect of these drones comes in how each side gets different styles such as VTOL recon flyer for the Western Alliance or a Nolan Batmobile “tumbler” looking drone for the Red Star Alliance that can be used as a drivable bomb. If a more aggressive approach is your forte then the Red Star Alliance has a miniature rocket launching helicopter with the Western Alliance being able to deploy a mini tank complete with a Gatling cannon and grenade launcher. Unfortunately like the vehicles you can use the ground drones drivability is really really shitty and can be a real pain in the ass and next to impossible to master.

These drones are pretty cool all together that sets this game apart and adds a bunch of new dimensions that can be used to create new strategies to combat your foes such as using a aerial drone to recon the area before charging in, sending a “tumbler” bomb to tank out tanks or entrenched units or using a mini tank to even the 12-1 odd against you. Something that did bug me was that while you can find plenty of these drones to use, there often of the Red Star variety meaning that the drones I used I was rarely getting to obtain via my own side and rather scavenging from the enemy which I found weird that I was somehow able to just find and use all these  high tech enemy drones.

Long Story Short: In conclusion Frontlines: Fuel of War is a bit of a mixed bag to me. It creates an interesting back story to this new cold war and world war III and it fully stocks both sides with a full arsenal of weapon, gadgets, and vehicles (I also enjoy when someone takes the time and energy to create a codex for a fictional universe). But it falls short in the narrative department with not giving us any real characters to the story that are memorable. Game play wise the game gives you some pretty fun gunplay with a nice battlefield outlay that give a wide set of tactics to your battlefield experience making the combat fun (at least on foot) but alas falls short with a lack of variety in the battlefield aesthetics and vehicles combat that will frustrate the hell out of you. All in all, it’s a mixed bag that I found pretty interesting though even for a short time.

THE GOOD

  • Narrative
  • Outline of missions

THE BAD

  • Driving controls

THE UGLY

  • Lack of battlefield color variety

*All images from http://www.giantbomb.com