Enemy Front May Be The Worst Game Of 2014
The best perk about working at Gamestop is that employees can check out games to take home. This allows me a free test drive of a variety of strange, obscure, and flat-out terrible games. One such game is Enemy Front, a World War II-era first-person shooter that released last week to absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. I'd hadn't heard of it at all until we received our store's shipment of the game and I doubt the developer sent any review code to news outlets as there are hardly reviews any online. Out of curiosity, I checked the game out of my store and it didn't take long for me to realize why it's such an unknown. Enemy Front is a complete disaster.
Initially, I had no intention of reviewing this but the number of issues hiding within Enemy Front accumulated at such an alarming rate that it wasn't long before I was furiously scribbling notes. Where do I even begin? How about the graphics.
In short, they're awful. This game looks like something that should have released in 2006. Textures are laughably low-res and unbelievably muddy. Several of them look like they belong in Wolfenstein 3D, not a 2014, $60 title. Orange puffs masquerading as explosions their accompanying damage that "poofs" into being effectively remove the thrill of blowing stuff up. Did I mention that this runs on Cry Engine 3, as in the engine that powers the visually-stunning Crysis series?
There is also a ridiculous amount of texture pop-in and the draw distance is horrid. Graphical details, as well as entire objects, will materialize mere feet in front of you only to vanish when you take an equal amount of steps backwards. This ranged from small touches such as the grate over a light bulb, to furniture such as chairs and tables, to bushes and entire trees.
Level design is equally offensive. The large, open environments give little incentive for exploration. There's a small batch of secret collectibles, but new weapons and ammo are only found in ammo caches or fallen enemies so inspecting every room hoping to find stuff is pretty much a waste of time. Rooms are devoid of personality and look like the homework of beginning game design student. Fallen civilians are scattered about and are the exact same character model repeated multiple times - one room even had two of them RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. I've also seen objects floating above floors as well as grass planes haphazardly sprinkled across ground textures. That is beyond lazy
Enemy Front is riddled with so many glitches that it's a wonder it runs at all. This game is not finished, plain and simple. Frame rate stutters when only a few things are happening and outright struggles to keep up during more elaborate battles. One huge battle late in the game was seemingly way too sophisticated for this game as it had a ton of foot soldiers, vehicles, and effects like fire and explosions going all at once. The game sputtered along as best it could before crashing completely, forcing me to restart the entire sequence.
Only half the objects seem to have any collision as characters frequently clip through objects and each other. I once stealth-killed a dude who’d been leaning over a crate and the kill animation just phased through the box in a hilarious scene. Another forced restart occurred after my character randomly fell through the world as I was crouching behind some boxes.
During a certain section of a winter-based mission, my controller kept disconnecting every time I used the sniper rifle (I played the 360 version, by the way). My batteries were near full and nothing happened when I used the other guns (or sniped during the rest of the game). Once I got passed it, the sniper never gave me that problem again so I have no idea what was going on there.
One of the strangest glitches I’ve ever encountered came after a shootout where I noticed the floating, disembodied arms of a soldier aiming a gun. After marveling at its terribleness for a bit, I melee'd it only to take damage myself. Confused, I did it again and, once again, I was hurt. Suspicious, I began to cycle through my weapons and watched the ghost arms follow suit. I was horrified to discover that, somehow, those arms belonged to me and was some sort of crazy body-double that had spawned during the battle. How the hell does that even happen?!
My favorite among the gamut of technical hiccups was the slipperiness of the main character. More often than not, when you cease movement, you'll slide as if the soles of your boots are coated in olive oil. The best example of this occurred during the inaugural mission. I crouched behind some rubble and my character started sliding to the right on his own. I put the controller down and watched this unfold. He wouldn't stop sliding until he hit a wall, halfway across the area. This glitch resurfaced numerous times during my playthrough.
Enemy Front also goes out of its way to ape Call of Duty. The story regularly shifts from flashbacks to present day, there a several big set piece moments that fall flat due to the terrible tech behind them, some “follow” characters, and it controls basically the same (except crappier). Call of Duty breach moments occur frequently but imagine if they lacked the force and general awesome they're known to have and you've got Enemy Front’s watered-down versions in a nutshell.
Gunplay feels slow and unsatisfying. Melee attacks are ruined thanks lack of impact behind them. Nazis just kind of fall over when hit without any weight behind it. Stealth kill animations go on way too long and usually end up getting you discovered. Missions lack unique objectives and usually consist of long walks through huge, open areas, Call of Duty follow missions, and arena-style areas that throw waves of Nazis at you relentlessly. Checkpoints are unforgiving, making you replay missions from the beginning despite completing several lengthy skirmishes.
Enemy A.I. is terrible. When you're spotted, most soldiers run a nonsensical route to get right in your face instead of shooting from a strategic vantage point. Killing a soldier standing next to another takes the surviving foe ages to react to his buddy dying before his eyes. Some are too stupid to realize they're being shot at all.
Allies are no better, as many of them take cover, stand as if they're about to shoot, only to take cover again so they're never any help. The funniest example of ally uselessness occurred during an infiltration mission where my partner stood stiff as a board as a Nazi standing right in his face filled him with lead. My ally didn't react at all, the Nazi ignored me entirely to keep firing at him, and I just stood back and watched with my mouth agape.
The story is just as uninspired. You play as Robert Hawkins, an American newspaper journalist who has traveled overseas to document the European resistance movement. He starts off as a brash, conceited jerk-off who only cares about landing his big scoop but, as you’d expect, changes his tune as he sees the sacrifices the people around him make in the name of freedom. The contrived emotion fails completely thanks to terrible voice work (especially Hawkins), bland characters, cutscenes that end abruptly, and unfocused, inconsistent writing.
In one scene, Hawkins is forced to watch the Nazis slaughter a peaceful farm community. Despite this clearly upsetting him, he suddenly reverts back to jackass mode when asked to join the cause because he only cares about getting his story. Another scene had Hawkins working under the command of a Norwegian Captain Price rip-off with no issues whatsoever. However, when Not-Captain Price issues him a random command later on, Hawkins angrily tells him not to tell him what to do and they’re suddenly at odds for the sake of creating artificial drama that goes nowhere. Either that, or Hawkins is suffers from bi-polar disorder.
Un(fortunately), I wasn't able to finish Enemy Front before taking it back which is why this isn't a proper review with a score. A couple of campaign missions remained and I didn't have time to delve into multiplayer (though I doubt I would have found anyone to play with anyway). Unless the remainder of the game transformed into Bioshock, I doubt anything I missed would have redeemed the overwhelmingly large quantity of crap I slogged through regardless.
To make matters worse, I actually sold Enemy Front to a curious father the day I checked it out because he wanted a new WWII-era shooter and I showed him the box. I never told him the game was good, but I still felt awful for that after playing the game myself. Don't make the same mistake. Avoid playing Enemy Front at all costs.