Enemy Front Updated Preview: The release is near, and I'm worried
From a design and concept perspective, Enemy Front offers something that I have been asking for in a First Person Shooter for quite some time: freedom. Sure, it's not the first game to have an open-ended mission structure but any game that doesn't shoehorn a player into a corridor filled with set pieces that can only be tackled a certain way is welcome at this point.
During my brief time with Enemy Front, a few things impressed me, one of which was the environments. Big and open were the keywords here. While the game is still mission based, each mission gives the player a large and open environment with multiple paths and choices on how to tackle them. The level I watched and played took place in a field with various farmhouses, and guards patrolling the area. The choice here was whether to sneak around and stealthily dispose of enemies and not cause a disturbance, or go in guns blazing while utilizing various environment pieces for cover.
Throughout the mission, I was also impressed with smaller side missions that the player can choose to ignore or partake in. One of these instances revolved around saving someone from being attacked in their farmhouse.
Lastly, I have to give a slight nod to the composer and the soundtrack. The music was very reactive to the player's actions. Mellow piano music would play while sneaking behind enemies, but then grow to a full orchestra with a fast tempo, really building up on the action. However, the volume mixing needs to be a bit better. The music sometimes got a little too loud, making even something like gunfire sound like a whisper.
But as much as I was impressed with the mechanics of the game, I was worried about its performance. The build we were shown and able to get hands-on time with was on the Xbox 360, so I can't speak for the PC version.
First and foremost was the constant slowdown and hiccup in frames. When the stage first loaded up, I thought the level's size meant it needed some extra time to load everything up correctly. However, once the action started and gunfights errupted, the slowdown continued. The game would keep freezing periodically for a second or two, completely ruining the flow of the action.
Secondly, the enemy AI was a bit laughable. Once the alarm was raised and they all rushed to my location, which was on the second floor of a farmhouse, they would all just simply run up one after another straight into my gunfire. All I had to do was keep the trigger pressed down and watch as bodies piled up high. It's not like the enemies couldn't flank me, since there were two stair cases that led up to my location, but they all seemed to fixate on that one set of stairs.
Enemy Front is currently slated for release on June 12th, which is actually quite soon. I'm hoping City Interactive can optimize the 360 version a bit, so it runs a bit smoother than what we've seen. It's easily one of the more intriguing FPS games that I've seen recently.