Whatever you think of the Call of Duty franchise now, without 2007’s Modern Warfare, the gaming landscape would be entirely different today. CoD4 was extremely influential and important in getting us where we are in gaming now. With that come some negatives and some positives, but there is no doubt in my mind that it is time for change in a genre that is getting too bloated in it’s self-masturbatory “cinematic” gameplay. Enter Stuart Black’s Enemy Front.
Eschewing the linearity that has taken over the majority of FPS’s so they can control our attention to the “ain’t it cool” moments, Enemy Front is offering up a level of free-form play and customization that has been missing. Levels are designed in such a way that players can approach them in a variety of ways. Snipers, Solid Snake wannabes, and living-room Rambo’s are all given room to manifest themselves.
In addition to the more open levels, players can also customize the way the game plays — and I’m not talking difficulty level. There are three gameplay-style options: Hope, Honor and Glory. Hope plays much like a traditional modern shooter — regenerating health and all. Honor removes the regenerating health and puts in health packs. Glory takes away the HUD and the regenerating health to offer the most realistic experience. This allows the game to cater any kind of FPS gamer, something that isn’t usually done.
Another thing worth talking about is that the game seems to have a sort of learning curve. The auto-aim is turned off by default, making it so that looking down the sights doesn’t automatically lock you on to the closest enemy. They have also toned down the turning speed, neutering the coked-up, weightless feel that CoD has and lends everything some weight. Carrying an MG42, for example, makes you move and turn even slower. These are small things, but they are welcomed additions from FPS’s that are focused on the everyman.
Enemy Front not only shies away from pandering, it also shies away from the bloated firefights that, while meant to feel “cinematic” and “over the top,” become dull in their desperate attempts to emulate Hollywood. Black is focusing more on “isolated shootouts” according to the preview in July’s Game Informer. Each shootout will feel meaningful when you are shooting, say, five or six guys as opposed to 20-30 every five seconds. The shooting is made stronger and more distinct by this “less is more” approach.
Despite the near-simulation feel that I have been hinting at this whole time, the game hearkens back to the old school by offering up 10 different enemy types. There will be combat medics patching up the enemies you shoot down but down finish off and guards that run off to alert people to your presence if you are taking a stealth approach. No longer will different enemy types simply mean that you will be shooting some enemies more than others, they will really change the way firefights play out.
Enemy Front is the shooter-fan’s shooter. It offers up a variety of game play styles in the Hope, Honor and Glory options — along with the more open levels. It slows everything down by scaling down the size of firefights and focusing on the feel of controlling your character. It also dares to having something of a learning curve by taking out auto aim. Enemy Front is a total departure from everything that shooters have become, and it is for these reasons that it should be on the radar of every shooter fan that has become tired of developers getting their Michael Bay in their video game. It’s tentatively scheduled for an October release — be there.