If you’re unfamiliar with City Interactive, you should learn the name. We were lucky enough to see the fantastic-looking next-gen title Lords of the Fallen, we got to see the promising Quake-esque Alien Rush, and finally, we got to see Enemy Front. Lead designer Phil O’Connor, veteran of Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3, sat us down and showed off the “World War II combat sandbox”, which features diverse environments like Warsaw, France, Norway and Germany. Suffice to say the similarities to Far Cry 3 were apparent in the demo- in a very good way.
They were quick to try to stave off WWII game fatigue by differentiating their game from the others- rather than fighting on the front lines, in this game you play as Hawkins, a journalist in 1944 Warsaw, Poland. As you are doing your job, you begin running with a friend to the Swiss border. Along the way, however, you are exposed to the horrors of war, and ultimately become a resistance fighter. The story seems interesting, and we got to see a little bit of that. However, what really stood out was the gameplay.
A major feature differentiating the game from its peers is, being built on CryENGINE 3, it is colorful and beautiful which is rare for shooters set in that era. Most other WWII games (and many shooters in general) feature almost exclusively dark, gritty environments filled with browns, greens and grays. However, this game often juxtaposes the brutal violence of the Nazi regime against lush and beautiful backdrops, like rural France, complete with quaint villages, grass, trees and flowers.
The levels introduce an interesting combination of linear and open-world design. The story is linear, but you are placed in huge maps, which will remind you of attacking large encampments in Far Cry 3. There are many ways to approach each mission, including stealth, sabotage, and full-on assault. Recon is very important, as well, and you can use binoculars and mark enemies on your map. In each map, there are many “areas of interest” identified on the mini-map. At these locations you might find a sniper rifle, a man-able turret, or another resource. You will often find yourself turning the enemy’s tools against them, like rolling a truck down a hill into the town, where it will explode.
Speaking of which, most man-made elements of the environment are destructible in some way. If you take cover in a stone house for too long, the walls will begin to chip away. It will happen even faster in a wooden house, and explosives will make short work of any cover. Phil even showed us a scenario where you can shoot the floor out from under an enemy. This is just one example of the authenticity that CI is striving for with Enemy Front, and they are planning a “hardcore mode” which will feature even more realism, like ditching half-empty clips when you reload.
The mission we saw was very complex, and we were told that there are 13 missions planned for the game, and our demo was a quarter of one of them. There is also a multiplayer mode planned for the game, although we weren’t able to see it today. It will release in Spring 2014 for PC, PS3, and 360, and Phil says if he has any control over it, it will be under $60.