Frontlines: Fuel of War Preview (Xbox360)

Politics in games has always been something developers stayed away from. Alienating certain sectors of their fan base doesnít bode well, especially when itís hard to know how much of those people agree or disagree with the beliefs of their staff. Suffice to say, Kaos Studios isnít so afraid of it.

While the title may not point it out as blatantly as the very nice looking introduction, Fuel of War is talking about oil. Whether you agree with the current ďwarĒ in the Middle East, Frontlines is sure to get your panties in a twist. Then again, thatís exactly the point, on top of making a straight up game.

Putting aside the political mumbo-jumbo, because that discussion would best be left for a reviewer, or perhaps diplomats, FoW (not to be confused as Fall of Woman, the soon to be sequel to Resistance: Fall of Man) follows the US military operations against the unified front of the ďRed StarĒ, a coalition between Russia and China. They became bunk buddies when they realized that fighting isnít going to get them anywhere with the lack of usable energy available, so the second cold war is in full stretch, yet both sides are firing directly at each other.

There are a few things that set FoW apart from the standard FPS, our most prominent western 360 genre, most notably the respawn and ďfrontlineĒ systems. While itís customary for the campaign to give players one life and one life only, Frontlines gives you a bunch, depending on the mission. While we couldnít ascertain an actual number of lives, more than one is enough to stir things up. So dying once isnít such a bad thing.

Frontline, the more prominent part of the gameís title, is the main focus. Basing gameplay around how actual battlefields have moving frontlines, the idea is that the frontlines are dynamic. Hold a position for long enough and youíll own the area. While it isnít clear whether enemy troops can take these back, the idea is certainly clever.

They arenít exactly dynamic though, only moving when objectives are gained. It has very little to do with actual enemy placement, which is how frontlines are actually drawn. With the AI being mediocre, taking an objective, like blowing up enemy anti-air guns or holding a position in enemy territory for a period of time, will essentially have the enemy soldiers run away from you, like they know the battle is going downhill for them.

Where the lines are drawn is easy to see, but in a punny sense difficult to understand logistically. Gameplay is very average, though the option to fully customize controls on the 360 controller was almost inspiring, something more developers ought to do. From what weíve seen, 2024 doesnít only have a hugely apocalyptic Earth, but also the exact same weapons and instruments of war we see on todayís battlefields. Set for release late February on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, this political shooter may turn heads more by itís point instead of its gameplay, but there is still much left to be uncovered.

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