Enemy Front is an incredibly ambitious game that doesn’t quite live up to its premise. It’s worth playing for its unique take on a well-explored theater of war, but only if you’re willing to overlook its shortcomings.
A little under a year ago, we first saw Enemy Front in action during Gamescom. It looked fresh, with excellent visuals and a great story to back it up. Running on the latest CryEngine software, the final game still looks great for a game that didn’t have a Battlefield/Call of Duty-esque budget. From battle-torn Poland to the French countryside and the less-explored regions of snowy Norway, this is a game that delivers a look at World War 2 Europe from some very diverse perspectives.
The central protagonist in all of this is Robert Hawkins, an American reporter trying to get the word out on what’s happening in Europe, but then slowly becomes involved with the resistance movement and takes matters into his own hands. Not a seasoned soldier, the key to success is often to avoid gunfights altogether, but there are plenty of opportunities where your only way out is to take up arms and shoot your way through hordes of Nazi soldiers.
This premise is absolutely great on paper, but its execution is hindered by two major aspects: a lack of character development in the story and some awkward gameplay inconsistencies. Although the game never shies away from showing the atrocities of war from a different perspective than we’re used to in games, our main character’s journey through Europe seems more like a collection of loosely connected missions than a continuous story. Being faced with moral dilemmas is something we previously saw in Call of Duty – to much public scrutiny – but this time the choices you make are much less obvious. You might be faced with an imminent execution of a resistance member, where you can either act or stay silent and maintain your cover. There are some great tense moments, but unfortunately there’s not enough glue to keep them all together.
Enemy Front’s gameplay is a mix of stealth and straight up FPS action, where you often have the choice of how you approach your objectives. In some cases, however, it might appear as though you have a choice even when you don’t. This is where the game brutally punishes you for choosing the wrong road, essentially saying “wrong! try again!” and eliminating the feeling that you have a choice in the matter.
The enemy AI is not the greatest we’ve seen either, as the above probably also points out. Turn the wrong corner, and enemies from all directions will be swarming you in a matter of seconds. Climb through the right window and an enemy just two feet away will ignore you – and when a battle does break out the consequences aren’t as dire either.
Still, Enemy Front is not a horrible game – it’s just not nearly as good as it could have been. The campaign, for all its little flaws, is still enjoyable to play through. The game’s unique premise, as well as some intense WW2 scenes that help support this premise, managed to keep our interest for the entire length of campaign. The game took us about 6 hours to complete so it’s a bit on the short side, but it has a budget-friendly price tag to match. If the premise interests you, this is worth a look. If you’re looking for a great FPS or stealth game, there are far better alternatives out there.