Summary: Jcal gets an insider's glimpse and gametime with Frontlines, the Battlefield-like FPS developed by Kaos. Read all about it here along with the high-res screenshots.
Frontlines is being developed by the new THQ owned Kaos Studios, made up of the former members of Trauma Studios who first created the Desert Combat free mod for Battlefield 1942 and then got acquired by Digital Illusions. The New York City based team worked on Battlefield 2 but were shut down when EA bought Digital Illusions. Now the team is on their own and working on Frontlines, taking the lessons learned from the Battlefield games and putting their own unique twists on the genre.
One of those twists is that Frontlines, unlike the previously released Battlefield games, will have an actual storyline and single player campaign. In a nutshell the game is set in the near future and deals with a very timely subject; the diminishing oil reserves. In Frontline's future of a couple of decades from now, Russia and China have teamed up to form the Red Star Alliance. Your character in the single player campaign is naturally playing with the "good guys", the Western Coalition who are fighting the Red Star Alliance for control of the last of the active oil deposits.
We got to see a portion of the single player campaign during the press event where your character joins the Stray Dogs Division to fight the enemy on the ground. Basically the single player campaign isn't going to be a series of bot battles but will have a number of different objectives to accomplish (take out enemy installations, retrieve important data, etc). The game will have a bunch of destructible environments so that wall that in normal games would be unaffected by a rocket launcher could easily shatter into pieces. While our glimpse into the single player portion of the game was brief it did give us an idea on how Frontlines will make us care about the situations we will find ourselves in the game.
As with the Battlefield games there are a number of player classes you can choose from (Assault, Heavy Assault, Sniper, Anti-Vehicle, etc) and when you select one of these classes you get set up with a pre-determined set of weapons. Frontline doesn't lack in this area; shotguns, machine guns, rocket launchers and more will be at your disposal. Vehicles from unarmed (but fast) jeeps to massive (but slow) tanks and even Apache style helicopters will also be available. Frontlines also has some cool near-future gadgets to play with. You can pilot unmanned air drones to give you and your team a heads up on the enemy. You can also pilot a ground wheeled drone that can take out vehicles if you pilot them under their carriage and detonate them. You can also pinpoint and call in air strikes which show fighter jets flying in to blow up whatever target you choose.
We played one two maps on the Xbox 360 along with one map on the PC versions. The first Xbox 360 map was a small 16 player map that was set in a forest style setting with some industrial structures. A larger 32 player Xbox 360 map was set in a rather dirty and oppressive oil field with massive oil puddles and pipes everywhere. The PC level we played was set in a bombed out urban downtown area with whole buildings smashed against each other. Kaos is using Epic's Unreal Engine 3 for Frontlines and the graphics and art style are looking first rate with the game having a grittiness that much of the Battlefield series lacks.
Frontlines: Fuel of War is entering an already crowded shooter genre but its timely setting, its new way of looking at vast outdoor battles and its cool weapons and gadgets already make it look different than the normal game of its type. THQ plans to release the PC and Xbox 360 versions of Frontlines in the first quarter of 2008; the PS3 version will be released sometime later in 2008. You can look for at least an Xbox 360 demo of Frontlines to be released sometime in the near future.
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