Posted: June 10, 2014
Remember the first time you parachuted into occupied (virtual) Normandy, France in the dead of night? Took out those German patrols stealthy-like? Created a distraction so your comrades-in-arms could take the beachhead and secure a landing site? Or remember being packed in an LCU (VIRTUAL), sea water and vomit sloshing beneath you; the Atlantic tossing you about like a plaything before your ship slammed into the beach? The ramp lowered, bullets chewed your men up around you; imposing, gray, gloomy skies contrasted that red, roiling surf? I sure as ♥♥♥♥ do. The developers of “Enemy Front” also remember. They remember and they want you to TOO.
It's been years since we've gotten a great WWII shooter. DAMN OUR HUBRIS. “Developers, we are SICK of killing Nazis. Come on, let's see something new,” we cried. “Okay, how about Nazi zombies?” they replied. And we were content for a time. But we wanted more. So they decided to drown the market in Tom Clancy Russian/Arab/Chinese right-wing wet dream masturbatory aid for the last SEVEN years. It's gotten more boring than WWII ever was. Because history is tangible. It happened. It happened to our grandparents. We can read books and watch documentaries and visit sites. It's real. It's powerful. Pretend future conflicts just aren't the same. They aren't bad, no! Just different. They don't have the same staying power. Remember my first paragraph? Bet you all remembered each of those moments vividly as I described them. Okay, now reflect on some of the latest modern shooter moments. OH ♥♥♥♥, REMEMBER THAT TIME YOU GOT NUKED? Yep. That was pretty heavy. WHAT ABOUT THE GHILLIE SUIT CHERNOBYL LEVEL?!? Oh yeah, that was excellent! Got anything else? No? Okay.
So I hope I've made my position in this debate clear. Now this WWII shooter might not be the savior we're looking for, but it's a fine first effort. The story is interesting, but Citizen Kane this is not. The characters are interesting but one note, underdeveloped, and underutilized. But this is to be expected from the genre. This isn't why we play WWII shooters though, is it? No. We play them to kick Nazi butt. So what little suffers from the weaker story elements the gameplay salvages.
You can approach a level in one of two ways: either come in Captain America style, rocking Nazi faces with your raw and unrelenting patriotism, or you can hit them Sam Fisher stealth style. This duality is very rewarding. The gunplay is great. I can feel the jolts up my arm; I feel the impact of each bullet, whether it's striking flesh or cover. I feel totally immersed. I'm a grimy, grizzled, Nazi-blood-hungry warrior – I'm not playing a video game in my underwear, hungry for day old pizza. The AI is serviceable. I'm playing on expert difficulty. They tend to rush in, unfortunately. Sometimes they display tactics, but on at least a few occasions I've taken a shot in an open area and fallen back, watching them funnel one by one into my death corridor. But otherwise they're competent – just don't expect “Brothers in Arms” tactics. The graphics are excellent, especially considering this is also a PS3 and Xbox 360 release. The ruined cities feel alive, buzzing and burning. The countryside is verdent and beautiful, still scarred by the brutality of war. And the sounds, last but not least, the sounds. Bullets whiz and ping, Germans shriek and shout orders, bombardments are heavy. The score is a little repetitive but it certainly is soaring and epic, fitting for the setting. If the gameplay makes this immersive, then the sound design is the icing on the cake.
A few gripes worth mentioning. I'm a resistance fighter. Thank God the Germans just left open ammo crates lying around everywhere otherwise, I don't know, I might have had to drop my weapon, change things up! And I'm tired of every European out of WWII speaking near perfect English. I wouldn't have minded subtitles; French speaking French, Polish speaking Polish. Finally, the game touts open worldness as a feature and pressures you to explore. I wish there were some collectables... propoganda leaflets and art, love notes and correspondence. History. An unfortunate missed opportunity.
So for my fellow history buffs and historical war enthusiasts AND EVEN A FEW OF YOU MODERN FANATICS, I think you'll have a good time with this game. It has serious nostalgia potential. You will likely smile and reflect on your time with this game when you're finally finished playing. For thirty bucks this is well worth your time. This is almost AAA quality. You owe it to yourself to give it a try.
Now go liberate (VIRTUAL) Europe.