Stuart Black is, without question, a lively man. His passion for games gained notoriety after the release of the PS2/Xbox shooter Black, followed by his work on Bodycount, which... many people had forgotten existed altogether. Now, Black (the man, not the FPS) is hard at work on Enemy Front as a creative director at City Interactive.
He had a sense of humor about the familiar territory where his next game takes place. “People always say ‘Really? Another f**king WWII shooter?’” Black related. “Does the world really need another one?” We had hoped Black would provide a compelling answer to that question during our demo.
You might know City Interactive from their other recent franchise, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, which simulates the precision and concentration needed to make every shot count. Enemy Front was designed to be the other end of the spectrum: running headfirst into battle with your guns a-blazing. The idea is to make the player feel like a vital victory asset, capable of single-handedly succeeding in a shootout, instead of a “frontline grunt.”
Black cites classic WWII films like The Dirty Dozen and Where Eagles Dare as inspirations for Enemy Front, and it certainly looks the part: the crisp CryENGINE 3 graphics looked nice and gritty, just the way we like our 1940s-era shooters.
Sadly, the gameplay at this stage felt flat. Barreling into battle as our unnamed American USS ranger felt more goofy than heroic, with some rough AI that directed Nazis to run directly at incoming gunfire. We got our hopes up for some memorable features when we saw destructible cover – alas, you can only obliterate the environment in strategic points, such as doorways, windowsills, and stone walls.
Black stressed the team’s effort to highlight some of the more exotic weapons used during WWII, but they all seemed to shoot like the same Thompson sub-machine gun that we’ve virtually fired thousands of times. Most alarming was when Black admitted that Enemy Front is “quite a linear corridor shooter,” which sounds like a death knell in the highly competitive modern FPS market. Unless, of course, you're among the few who preferred when games were like this.
The build we played was early, and only time will tell if Enemy Front can distinguish itself from the pack. If you just can’t get enough WWII shooters, or you’re a diehard Black fan (the man or the FPS), Enemy Front is set to release sometime in 2012.