Enemy Front Review (PlayStation 3)
Enemy Front seeks to bring us back to the honorable days of first-person shooters, when many of them were fighting the good fight in World War II. Poland-based CI Games have done plenty of offbeat FPS titles in the past, a few of which were actually set in WWII. Based on its launch day price of only $39.99, we figured that this title wouldn't have any AAA production values or a high-end budget, which turned out to be a huge understatement in terms of overall quality. It initially left us wondering if the value of Enemy Front's gameplay and reduced price outweigh the noticeable ramifications of having a very limited budget.
The current standards of the FPS genre owe a lot to the multitude of titles made in the late 1990s and early 2000s that were all set in WWII. In particular, the Medal of Honor and original Call of Duty series went back and forth throughout many games trying to paint the bloodiest, most unforgettable depictions of the second World War. Scenes like storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault or the Battle of Stalingrad in the first Call of Duty were absolutely breathtaking. Enemy Front had us gasping for air, too, but for all the wrong reasons.
Within moments of playing Enemy Front for the first time, we started encountering an ongoing, relentless number of visual glitches and bugs. The clipping issues within the indoor areas of the first level alone were simply too frequent to ignore. By the time you get in an hour of campaign gameplay, the number of graphical glitches you notice just become a part of Enemy Front's routine experience. When getting shot at by enemies who were located outside the building we were in, we initially thought to ourselves that the bullets of the Nazis were going through the walls to recreate the effects of high caliber weaponry. Upon closer inspection, we realized that there were soldiers outside the building who ran up to the wall and their guns simply clipped through and were able to hit us as their torsos remained outside. During the outdoor sections of the game, the Nazis would randomly shoot at areas around us and avoided shooting Hawkins on purpose. Other times, they would mow him down from full health to death with an unrelenting accuracy in a manner of seconds.
The overall visuals of Enemy Front look like they are from the original Xbox/PlayStation 2-era. This title's low-quality aesthetics look like they are from the pre-Modern Warfare phase of first-person shooters and blend in with the WWII titles from the early 2000s that actually inspired this game. Its characters appear to be decent, but most of the environmental models, from simple desks all the way up to whole buildings, all look way too blocky. Only during the game's cutscenes does Enemy Front look like anything that resembles the current standards of the FPS genre.
The sounds of Enemy Front are nearly as low in production as its graphics. Many of times, the gunshot sounds of each weapon do not match its visible muzzle fire. We have seen and heard better gunfire effects from iOS titles. We have noticed quite a few grenades exploding throughout the campaign that simply did not resonate on our surround sound system at all, a few of which were close enough to damage our character. Both the MP40 and Kar98k sound incredibly dull despite being your main rifle and machine gun. With enemies using the same weapons and also tossing grenades that don't audibly detonate, Enemy Front's combat sounds as hollow and inaccurate as its visuals.
The story of Enemy Front felt a bit tacked on. You play as Robert Hawkins, a US war correspondent with the personality of a block of wood. You would think that a news reporter would be decent with his words, but every time Hawkins had dialogue, it sounded like it was phoned-in by a guy bored out of his mind. Hawkin's adventures revolve around building a resistance against the Nazis leading to the events behind the Warsaw Uprising, but certain parts of game felt particularly hollow and thin when it came to the in-game events and plot, especially in the Warsaw area, which is a shame considering that's where CI Games' main studio is located.
The gameplay of Enemy Front is absolutely ruined by the number of glitches and bugs you will encounter. One of the main reasons why we kept trying to proceed through the main campaign was to see just how bad these glitches became. The shooting mechanics of Enemy Front are pretty standard, you have iron sights, grenades and cover to use. Of course, the covering system is extremely hit or miss based on the clipping of whatever environmental items you try to hide behind. Factoring in that soldiers will purposely miss their shots on purpose and other times they'll whittle away your health within seconds, and the fighting in Enemy Front just feels percentage and glitched-based bouts of randomness where you hope that the item you hide behind actually has been coded correctly to block bullets. If not, you simply hope that your enemies' bullets will purposely miss you enough so you have enough time to kill them all.
Nearly every corner of Enemy Front is just filled with signs of bad coding, untested gameplay and developmental shortcuts. One example would be how the enemies react and die. Let's say we took the stealth route and killed a Nazi with the silenced handgun. You can move the body if you would like, but there seems to be a 50/50 chance that a patrolling soldier would even react to the body. Some literally walked up to the corpse, through it and kept moving while others sounded the alarm the second the corpse came into view. Shooting the Nazi as he stands by a dead body resulted in this soldier falling with the same exact animation and landing in the same exact position on the ground right next to first dead body, despite one being a head shot and the other not. You will constantly find yourself killing an enemy and having another one run to the same exact spot where the first soldier died, using the same exact tactics that the first enemy did and creating a Lemmings effect. By the time combat was over, every spot where CI programmed enemies to use as cover had a cluster of dead soldiers laying in the same exact position.
One particular glitch had us reloading our save multiple times. During a non-combat part of Enemy Front where we met up with the resistance an NPC blocked our way. Talking to him eventually led to him walking away and letting you pass, but he had two models atop his body. One model was the talking and moving version of the character and the other one was acting as a placeholder to block your character from moving forward until you spoke to him. As the talking model left, the original, glitched placeholder remained, and this phantom NPC blocked us each time, despite restarting the game three times in a row.
There is a multiplayer aspect of Enemy Front, but it contains the same glitch-filled gameplay mixed with an atrocious online service hardly worth playing. Enemy Front lacks a quick match option -- you must specifically pick ranked or unranked matches, the game mode and the exact level you want and hope that someone is looking to play Enemy Front online with the same exact online parameters set as you. Other than its lackluster multiplayer that contains just as many bugs as its main campaign along with its horrible matchmaking services, Enemy Front offers almost no replay value. Ultimately, Enemy Front's lowered price of $39.99 doesn't warrant the purchase of a game this broken from start to finish.
This review is based on a purchased retail copy of Enemy Front for PlayStation 3.