If there’s one thing gamers like, it’s killing Nazi’s, a staple of video game entertainment for (console) generations. Bandai Namco and CI Games attempt to cash in on the Nazi gold with Enemy Front, a game they hope will give us more freedom with open-ended levels and the ability to complete objectives however you wish.
Enter Robert Hawkins, who to most, is just a simple, everyday war correspondent, yet to the evil Nazi’s, he’s a stripped down Rambo with an eventual kill count to shame most 90’s action films several times over. Set mostly in Europe and heavily featuring the Warsaw Uprising, it’s of course only natural to have an American protagonist ruthlessly slaughtering anyone and everone he can find. You’ll meet up with other classic videogame tropes, such as the French resistance fighter who’s more fatale than femme, the generic commando and of course the German operative.
It certainly comes as a surprise that a game being developed by a Polish company, featuring the largely untouched (in gaming at least) Polish theatre of war, would chose to set out their game like this. It would be far more interesting, and perhaps unbearably harrowing, to see a game entirely and devoutly from the Polish perspective, instead of the usual American hero tale we’ve all come to expect.
The horrors of World War 2 were plentiful to say the least; Enemy Front does attempt a fair stab at representing these atrocities. Several times throughout the campaign, you’ll stagger across situations that you can step forward and intervene, inevitably at the expense of an otherwise, avoidable firefight. It does of course slightly pale into comparison however at the sheer number of Germans you’ll slaughter along the way.
Despite the game feeling overly ambitious throughout, there is some semblance of truth to what they were attempting to accomplish. Areas are indeed open to experimentation in terms of stealth and covert affairs; with most missions being open to completion with minimal fighting. You can take the guns blazing approach, but you’ll often find yourself in one of two scenarios. Either you’ll alert the relentless assault of the German war machine and get shot in the back repeatedly from the suspiciously spawning Nazi’s. Or, you can let the atrocious enemy AI do the work for you and stand calmly in a doorway whilst they graciously walk towards you in single file.
It’s not only the AI that can cause difficulties in a gun fight either, the weapons feel inconsistent at best. Not far from the beginning of the game, you are offered the choice between a rifle and a sub-machine gun, should you pick the bolt action, (which comes without a scope) be prepared for confusion. Not only will hits not register even vaguely near the target, but due to the lack of any optical attachment, you’ll find ranged shots exasperate the problem. Fortunately for us however, you always come prepared for such an outcome; your trusty sidearm will see you through a majority of battles. Seemingly the perfect combination of more up close stopping power than the SMG’s and possessing more accuracy than the rifle at range, you’ll do most of your work with this.
Luckily for us, there are more than enough excuses to take the stealthy approach. It’s often just a matter of finding the correct climbable open window or the sneaky dusty trail to follow. Inevitably, stealth play has its downsides too however, the stealth takedowns can often be subject to the constant uncertainty and possibility of a hilarious glitch occurring. Whether it be the body of a recently stabbed Nazi disappearing into thin air after flying inside a wall or a guard periodically flopping to the floor in front of his superior, who incidentally, couldn’t care less that he just saw me crouching in front of him.
On top of the obligatory ‘explosive set-pieces’, Enemy Front also borrows heavily from other games too. You’ll find yourself breaching doorways in slow motion, alongside sniping using mechanics very reminiscent of their previous Sniper Ghost Warrior titles. Clocking in at around 5-6 hours for completion; not offering much in the way of replayability, save for the myriad of useless, obligatory collectibles doesn’t inspire much either.
The game’s multiplayer doesn’t offer too much in the way of reprisal, with a scant few modes and no progression system to speak of. Your interest would likely wane after a few matches, should you find any. Having such few people online, the blame can’t squarely be placed at the developers, but with nothing to draw you back in, there’s not much incentive to play when other games on the market better implement their ideas.
If all of these problems weren’t enough, Enemy Front still has one major kicker that you’ll likely notice straight away, its horrendous frame rate issues. It will regularly fall below 30 fps, even whilst there’s no discernable action on screen. Unfortunately, coming off the silky smooth, high resolution games of the PS4, it’s even more noticeable. Whilst the graphics are serviceable, except for some nice lighting effects dotted about, the voice acting, again, lets it down somewhat too. There’s a decent rousing score that kicks in at the right times, but in the end, it’s too little, too late.
Everything regarding Enemy Front screams of a high ambition that it’s not quite reached for whatever reasons. The premise is good, the setting will always appeal to gamers and leaving the style of play up to the user is always a good choice. There can be fun to be had; ‘outsmarting’ the enemies by sneaking your way around can feel rewarding, if not a little hollow. Unfortunately, unforgivable amounts of technical problems are hard to squint past and are inevitably, Enemy Front’s downfall.