An In-Depth Look at City Interactive's Enemy Front @ E3 2012

An In-Depth Look at City Interactive's Enemy Front @ E3 2012

  • By: CM Boots-Faubert
  • Posted 19th Jun 2012

Enemy Front

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At various points scattered throughout Germany are attractive young women waiting for you to save them, or unattractive old men guilty of heinous war crimes who are waiting for you to arrest them. You may be required to play briefly as a Russian soldier or commando, but at no point will this Russian soldier show any interest in any females that you may encounter, and particularly appears to be allergic to any women between the ages of 14 and 40, with this allergy becoming stronger and more extreme the better looking that they are.

Under no circumstances would they even consider the notion of forcing their attentions upon said enemy German fur-lines, even if invited to do so because they are Russian and would not want to disappoint Uncle Joe, as they are pure of heart and mind, we are just saying...

You may also note that while bombs do fall, and bullets do get fired, as a general rule they do not fall on you or get fired at you unless you are in a group of more than six other soldiers, in which case all of the bombs and all of the bullets get fired directly AT you, because you are a bomb/bullet magnet who somehow in spite of this manages to not only survive but also triumph, defeat the enemy, and kill Hitler again and again and... You get the idea...

Now having said all of that, and having pointed out the worse of the worse from the traditional WW II era games that you should be very well familiar with, you will be happy to learn that Enemy Front is not your Father's WWII war game. Specifically it does not take place in any of those traditional environments and, amazingly enough even though there is in fact a plot (several actually) and story to unfold, the story does indeed involve uber weapons, but they are not located in Vemork, Norsk Hydro, or in a large anti-aircraft tower or bunker in the parks of central Berlin.

Qualifying this preview by pointing out that we only saw a narrow portion of an Alpha Build for the game, and a significant portion of the additional information that we obtained is admittedly speculative in nature, the fact that the game environment falls way outside of the standard environment for this genre is a very good sign! While your presence in France and Germany are more or less a given considering the history of the war, a significant mission series in Poland during the campaign adds an element to the game that we do not get to see very often, and the close relationship that the player's character enjoys with various resistance fighters in each location means that there is something of a personal stake in the adventure beyond the usual...

While direct confrontation with the enemy is often necessary, Enemy Front includes elements of stealth play that are not usual to the genre outside of games that are expressly intended to be stealth-based, rewarding the player for correctly judging when it is a good idea to confront, and when avoiding confrontation is the smarter choice. Considering that for much of the game your character is on his own, learning when to fight and when to run is a solid part of the process of perfecting your play style in the game.

Considering that the conservative nature of game design is such that it usually tends to closely follow and observe trends rather than to establish them, the focus in Enemy Front upon a non-traditional game world, and taking on a different and unique view of World War II while everybody else is knee-deep in Iraq and the Middle East says something refreshing about the game -- and its development team.

Game Play Video Part 3 of 4 Hosted by Developer Stuart Black

An Object of Interest

A gritty first-person shooter set within a rather unique take on a World War II environment that was envisioned in a manner intentionally different from that of most games covering the period, the ample evidence for this different approach serves nicely as the starting point for any serious evaluation of the game -- and when these differences are combined with evidence that this philosophy was firmly embraced by the development team on Enemy Front, the process of defining expectations for the game naturally provides a plethora of "hooks" around which we can build this piece.

It should be noted that our awareness of the dangers of being seduced by the more colorful and obvious of those elements -- the amateur mistake of being sidetracked by trivial aspects that happen to stand out more obviously at the expense of the sort of telling elements that better serve the interests of the reader -- had a strong influence on the crafting of this piece...

A brief review of existing coverage of the game coming out of E3 neatly illustrates how trivial elements can easily lead the writer to focus upon what amounts to fairy floss while large chunks of meat go unexplored -- with examples of that sort easy to find, even among the more established publications online whose editors should know better... For example a high-profile "preview" feature piece recently published online from an otherwise respectable voice in the games journo community places the spotlight upon the protagonist of the game, while largely ignoring many of the elements that gamers would very much like more information on.

The protagonist is an OSS "Ranger" who has been inserted behind enemy lines and who, with the assistance of iconic characters who are members of the local resistance forces in each of the primary areas of operation that are the focus in the game, embarks upon an investigation that will eventually lead to the discovery of one of the many "uber weapons" being developed in secret by the Germans and, assuming that the player does their job, will be rendered impotent as a result.

Rather than focus upon the story and plot, or the interesting dynamics of the relationship that is meant to develop between the protagonist and his allies, the piece instead spends most of its column inches celebrating the one-liners and wry observations that are made by the protagonist as he takes on a long wave of enemy opponents, emerging victorious while always knowing just what to say to set the enemy straight with a verbal tea-bagging now that they have been properly defeated.

Fortunately for us, with our colleagues at other publications having fully covered those trivial aspects of the game, we are free to address the more interesting and game-impacting elements of Enemy Front, with a good place to start being the game world itself.