October 18, 2007 // 8:06 pm
- It's 2024, and the Caspian Sea contains the last remaining oil reserves on the planet. In order to secure them, the world's superpowers converge on the oil towns of Turkmenistan with jets, Humvees and tanks. Powering all this military hardware just for a few barrels may seem a bit wasteful, but in the future global economy you'll have to spend oil to earn oil.
In Frontlines: Fuel of War's single-player campaign, you'll use an array of weapons and vehicles to beat back the combined military forces of Russia and China. Various strategic objectives are scattered around the maps, and as long as they're not too far into enemy territory, you can approach these in any order you choose. Dying in the single-player mode doesn't force a reset, either, as you'll simply take control of another teammate at the front.
Leading the charge are over 60 playable vehicles (which, by the way, will never run out of gas). Similar to the Battlefield series, vehicles are scattered around maps two-to-four miles in size, and in either the single-player campaign or multiplayer mode you can hop into a tank or helicopter and fight however you see fit. For example, there's the "battle bus," a Land of the Dead-inspired coach that holds a team and comes with barbed wire barricades and a gunner's nest on the roof.
The vehicles in Frontlines look like they'll add a lot to the gameplay, but not all of them are large. Players can also grab remote controlled drones and take to the streets or skies as a miniaturized killing machine. In multiplayer, you can even provide reconnaissance to your team by hovering over the battlefield in a mini-copter, as long as you don't feel too vulnerable leaving your soldier alone at the controls.
The remote controlled drones are one of the more interesting additions to Frontlines, because they are difficult to detect and pack a lot of firepower. If you choose to specialize in drones during multiplayer matches, gaining kills and capturing objectives will grant you mini mortars to shell enemy positions, or tiny tanks that can drive right up behind a sniper without being noticed.
Instead of going the drone specialty route, you might want to select the ability to call in progressively more destructive airstrikes. Starting with precision airstrikes and cluster bombs, you'll eventually be able to summon a devastating gunship attack on a wide swath of the combat zone, guaranteeing that any enemy out of cover will be demolished.
The special attacks in Frontlines seem like they'll be great in multiplayer games, and Frontlines will be able to support 32 players online on consoles (64 on PC).
Apart from this, it's familiar territory for military shooters -- an open battlefield with modern combat -- but with an impressive engine and a scale not many games on consoles can match. With the game now scheduled for release in early 2008, it could be a nice follow-up once the hype on games like Call of Duty 4 dies down a bit.