It would be too easy to start this review by saying "War. War never changes". So I'm not going to. BUT: remember Call of Duty 2? Back in the day. When we were first introduced to regenerating health in a FPS. Graphically it was a bit ropey by today's much higher standards, but it gamely attempted to involve the player in World War 2. And now, you can do it all over again.
It's all there in Enemy Front. Regenerating health, naturally. Ropey graphics. Mass Nazi slaughter. Unfortunately, there's a little less in the way of fun...
Enemy Front's single player campaign focuses on the decidedly hands-on activities of an American war correspondent named Robert Hawkins, kicking off in Poland toward the end of the war and then being told partly in flashback as far back as 1940. Missions fulfill the traditional menu for a World War 2 shooter - Grab that Panzerschreck and blast the tank! Rescue the resistance from a firing squad! Defend the building from enemies by blasting away with a fixed machine gun! Quick! Up there and grab the sniper rifle! Shoot a million Nazis with it!
Not that sniping will prove too much of a challenge, seeing as how incompetent the AI is. Say, for example, you're on a hill, overlooking a French farm. There are about seven Germans down there, so how are you going to proceed? Well, here's your answer. Blast one with the sniper rifle (you may get a Sniper Elite / Max Payne style bullet cam once in a while for your trouble) and watch the others scatter into cover. Now, these cover spots seem to be hard-coded into the digital brains of the Wermacht, so all you need to do is find one of these cover spots where the soldier is poking out (there's usually one) and blast him. Now, just wait. Shortly, another German will come over and stand in the exact same place as his dead buddy, figuring, you know, that's a pretty great place to hide. Blam. Ten seconds later, and the commander assumes that if it's good enough for his men, it's good enough for him. Blam. You remain crouched, check Facebook on your phone, stare out the window for a bit, and there's another one. Shoot. All done. Area cleared.
And almost no fun was had by anyone.
The AI is so hideously dim that flanking enemy positions is laughably easy. Fighting a pitched battle between two sides in a church, it's child's play to move around the side to a position behind the enemy, and plug a couple. And the rest will almost never even notice you, so you can take the rest out at your leisure.
All of this on the hardest skill setting. But rest assured, if you somehow DO manage to die, you'll be sent back to a checkpoint so far back that Hitler will still be a jobbing artist. The checkpoints in Enemy Front punish you for dying, and the extended regen times punish you for getting hit - because dropping back into cover and waiting until you're healed rarely results in any meaningful movement by the enemy that you need to worry about.
There's a game attempt at a stealth mechanic that works fairly well, though. Reconning an area ahead of time with your binoculars allows you to tag enemies, Far Cry style (although it often somehow fails to recognise an enemy you're staring right at, and who is filling most of your binoculars' field of vision), then sneak in and perform stealth kills and move the bodies, or take a human shield to stack the odds (even more) in your favour.
There are a couple of bugs to worry about, as well. Aside from the rather shaky launch-day graphics issues, occasionally I found that the game simply forgot I was armed with molotov cocktails, despite telling me exactly how many I had on my HUD, and wouldn't allow me to throw any. Occasionally, no matter how exactly I positioned myself behind an enemy I wouldn't get the opportunity to stealth-kill him, although this rarely mattered as it resulted in a regular melee attack that had pretty much the same result. But still, it all lends credence to the theory that Enemy Front isn't entirely finished.
Which isn't to say there's no potential here at all. Enemy Front has some decent pacing for the most part and since you're a revolutionary and a war reporter rather than a grunt in a fixed unit there is plenty of variety in what you're doing. When you're storming a building and shooting through the smoke and flames against entrenched Germans, their lack of AI is really not too much of an issue because they're not really moving around much anyway. Much of the game can be played stealthily, and the stealth engine works fairly well, rarely feeling particularly unfair. And when you wrong-foot it and alert the guards, you're back to the straightforward firefight for a bit, after which you can get stealthy again if you like. This fluid approach allows you to play how you want to play at any given moment.
Multiplayer is very much as you'd expect after having played the single-player campaign. The devs have done the bare minimum to put out a mostly-lifeless multiplayer shooter with a couple of maps and not really anything in the way of innovation to encourage keen MP gamers to choose this over, well, anything else really.
War is hell. A senseless waste of human life to sate the maniacal greed of world leaders, and a profoundly sad reflection on humanity. Just about the only saving grace is that it has provided us with some fantastic videogames in the past. Sadly, this isn’t one of them.