While the objectives keep shifting and the frontline keeps moving forward, the way the game plays is very similar to any other post-Halo FPS. You’ll advance and engage in repeated small skirmishes against entrenched enemies, occasionally picking from several possible routes but ultimately ending up in the same location; you’ll use vehicles and a selection of weapons to your advantage and you’ll rely upon teammates to cover your back as you assault tough positions. Enemies are just smart enough to occasionally pull back, but for the most part they’ll prefer to fling themselves at you, more like skagged-up muggers than professional soldiers, and the only time they present a true threat is when they’re tooled up with rockets or entrenched in such numbers that you need to rely on your conveniently-placed gadgetry to get by.
The weapons are lightweight and floaty and enemies soak up bullets like a nuclear-powered Jesse Ventura, making shooting anything or anyone terminally unsatisfying... which should obviously be the death of the game - were it not for the brilliant, brilliant toys.
Yes. Toys. Online, Frontlines’ Role system means you can enter the battlefield with deployable weapons, remote drones, EMP weapons or air support; offline, you’ll find those same toys littering the battlefield as if some gun-toting Johnny Appleseed had seeded a year’s supply of futuristic firepower across the Middle East. Remote-controlled mayhem never gets old, and we don’t foresee many players opting for the duller roles. Air strikes are entirely underwhelming and pack all the explosive wallop of a well-shaken can of Coke; the gun emplacements are as powerful as you’d expect and a railgun can rip through a tank faster than any rocket launcher; EMP weapons are, like the air strikes, so unimpressive that you won’t even notice you’ve used one. Still, as guffo as the EMP is, it’s an essential piece of kit on the online battlefield.
And it’s lucky the online game is so strong since the Campaign is done and dusted in just five hours. And while it’s mostly a fun five hours, the lack of any longevity means any blind fool can see Frontlines is built as a multiplayer game. Thanks to the dedicated servers, Frontlines happily chucks 32 players about the place without even a hint of chug-o-vision. All the toys and tools available to you on the offline battlefield immediately make more sense in the online space - you’ll level up your character over the course of a game, unlocking three levels of your particular role’s ability so the early stages of the battle aren’t overwhelmed by every fool dropping an air strike on the battlefield at once.