An Inglorious Bughunt
I wanted to love Enemy Front, I really did. As a big WWII FPS fan, I’ve been starved for years and have only recently got a taste of the genre coming back with the ‘what if the Nazi’s won’ Wolfensteinon PS4 and the ‘let’s shoot Italians in Africa for a change’ of the recent Sniper Elite III. Enemy Frontcould have been another game to show that WWII is still one of the best settings for FPS titles; instead, it’s probably buried it.
The game’s ambitions are pure enough, but CI have struggled to cope with the CryEngine and basic gameplay design, producing one of this year’s biggest messes. The frame-rate crashes into single-digits whenever you go indoors, especially when moving up the stairs of any of the multiple apartment buildings. The checkpointing seems intent on making you relive the worst parts of the game whenever you bite the dust after the increasingly random number of perforations deemed acceptable is reached.
Glitches see enemies that can only be sniped get stuck behind pillars. You can be shot by enemies through several buildings, leading to the impression you’re being shot by ghosts. Your own shots frequently fail to register in some of the worst hit detection I’ve ever seen. You’re pretty much forced to rely on sniper weapons as the close range lunacy of the jitteriest MP40 in existence suggest the lead hero has wrists made of jelly. Sometimes weapons sink into the ground when you put them down for a sec to use a rocket launcher. Stealth melee takedown animations are so lengthy that you’ll be seen by another soldier every time. The ultimate slow clap award though goes to those gifted flying Nazis that seem to get skyhooked away from the battlefield. It gets to the point where all you can do is laugh through the rage.
When you go a few minutes without Nazis gleefully ignoring bullets to the face or joining the rapture despite being in the ultimate naughty club, there is some bearable gameplay to be had. I can’t quite stretch to calling it fun when you know something another pie in the face is primed just around the corner.
Enemy Front’s best features are cleanly lifted from other shooters, especially the Sniper Elite series. There’s a slow-motion focus mode for sniping and an awareness metre to help you remain undetected (although it’s a hive mind one and those spectral enemies can see through half a village’s worth of building to see you in a hedge). The use of ambient noise to mask some of your shots is well used though and is thankfully more frequent than the tedious waits in Sniper Elite III.
While the hit detection is awful, you’re at least given some indication when you definitely hit the enemy thanks to X marks flashing up on targets (grey for wounded and red for a kill). Further pilfering from other games includes using binoculars to tag enemies (if you can get it respond that is). CI really haven’t done themselves any favours releasing this so close to the very similar but superior Sniper Elite III. After playing both in less than a fortnight, Sniper Elite has comes across as a reasonably-priced steak meal, while Enemy Front has me eating a non-brand microwavable burger with a hangover.
Oh god, there’s multiplayer! After trying on multiple occasions though, I’ve not been able to get a single match on PS3 thanks to some deserted servers. The quick match options force you to pick both a mode and specific map, severely limiting being able to get the bare minimum of four players in one lobby. I managed two, but they left after ten minutes of waiting. Given all the issues the game suffers in the campaign, it gives me hope that people do have tastes after all.
- You get to shoot Nazis
- Good use of ambient sound to mask shots
- Loading screens inspired by the Halo 3 ‘Believe’ trailer are nice
- Loading screens as a pro? It’s that bad
- Hit detection is a shambles
- Rough at every turn
The Short Version: The extensive development time hasn’t helped the game nail a single element of what makes WWII shooter games great. The biggest disappointment is the abhorrent hit detection system that frequently makes your input to the fight almost irrelevant. Between glitches, bugs and the sobbing CryEngine there’s the occasional intense sniping encounter or hold-the-line battle, but it’s never enough to overcome this crushing defeat.
Platforms: PS3 (reviewed) | X360 | PC
Developers: CI Games
Publishers: CI Games