War Front: Turning Point


posted 4/3/2007 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
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The AI operates as a blessing and a curse, depending on which end of the bullet you're on. Large vehicle convoys tend to string themselves out over long distances, reducing your hitting power should you encounter the enemy, but otherwise minimizing losses should an air strike be called on your location. Infantry units are required to capture buildings, but they'll leave behind the rest of a platoon if it's mixed with, say, a medic and some bazooka troops (who do not participate in building captures). Repair trucks alternately want to lead the charge, or hang so far back that they are out of the convoy's repair radius. 
And the age-old problem of units not reacting to enemy fire is a clear and present danger in War Front. The otherwise poorly-structured first-person shooter mode -- which you may initiate with anti-aircraft, anti-tank, and machine gun bunkers -- is a necessary evil, since your bunkers would rather not respond if an enemy is just out of range, even if it is within range while in FPS mode. At any rate, this hackneyed FPS construct is only a viable option if the campaign scenario calls for it specifically; otherwise, battles are too fast and frenetic to spend any length of time hunkered down with the ground pounders when you should be commanding from above.
This is no nitpicking picnic by any means, but it doesn't deface the overall allure of War Front. The battles are furious, the explosions pack a dutiful wallop, the units are painstakingly rendered, and the landscaping is rather involved. Vehicles pay no mind when bowling over acres of trees, plowing over rural panoramas, and engaging in a little urban redecoration -- and that's just moving them from one part of the map to another. It's clumsy, but satisfying.
In regards to the story (and a welcome expansion or two) I'd challenge Digital Reality to stop pulling punches when selling their scenario. They don't need to dig into the psychological horrors of war, no, but this version of World War II doesn't feel like the world is much involved. There's perhaps one dainty cut scene, shot in black and white, pitch perfect with its scratchy film, trying to capture the spirit of the 1940s. And except for one striking scene with Big Ben draped in German banners, War Front doesn't look to root itself in its own alternate reality. I'm already sold on the concept:  It's a winner, no doubt. Now make me a believer.

Bonus points for finally taking World War 2 in a different direction, Digital Reality. Much of the basics are intact here and make for some worthy game time. Now lose the gawky first-person mode, make the AI respond properly to enemy action, and give your viewers a macroscopic view of how this alternate history is affecting those beyond the battlefield.

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