Frontlines: Fuel of War Hands-on Preview

Written by Joe Martin

December 12, 2007 // 6:23 a.m.

Tags: #battlefield #combat #enemy-territory #frontlines #fuel-of-war #hands-on #preview #quake-wars #team-fortress #tf2 #ut3

Frontlines: Fuel of War

Publisher: THQ
Platform: PC (also confirmed for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3)

Multiplayer first person shooters are the English equivalent of a dime a dozen nowadays and these last few months have seen some games released to both critical acclaim and massive success – Team Fortress 2 and Unreal Tournament 3 to name but two. Meanwhile, other games that should have been sure-fire smash hits have been swallowed up in the market, lost in the shuffle.

Yes, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, I’m looking at you.

Needless to say that if a multiplayer shooter wants to make an impact on the market in this day and age then it needs more than just an established brand name behind it. It’ll need a fair bit of panache and flair – a streamlined gameplay style which renders the game as graceful as it should be complex and difficult to master.

One of the latest games to try and step up to the plate in that respect is Frontlines: Fuel of War. Developed by Kaos Studios and published by THQ, Frontlines hopes to be the next smash hit in multiplayer gaming. It’s a lofty aim though and means that not only will Frontlines be competing with all the existing multiplayer games out there, but it’ll also be going head to head with EA’s Battlefield: Bad Company.

Frontlines: Fuel of War Hands-on Preview
Click to enlarge

It’ll be an interesting battle between the two games, especially if you know the history of Kaos Studios. In fact, it was so interesting that in the end we had no choice but to meet up with Luis Cataldi, Art Director for the game, and go hands-on to see if Frontlines has what it takes to make it into the big league.

Modern History

I spoke before about the history of Kaos Studios and I think it’s only fair that I elaborate on that so that you all understand a bit more about why Frontlines could stand to be something a little bit special.

So, settle in for a quick stroll down memory lane.

Kaos Studios was originally founded under the name of Trauma Studios when a group of home-based mod makers turned professional after the success of their Battlefield 1942 mods – the most famous of which was the Desert Combat mod. The mod updated the gameplay of Battlefield 1942, opening up more modern weaponry and vehicles while letting gamers duke it out on a more contemporary playing field.

Trauma Studios was bought up by DICE less than a year later based on their obvious talent for multiplayer balancing and convincing game design. The team was put to work on the fully commercial sequel, Battlefield 2 and all was well with the world.

Frontlines: Fuel of War Hands-on Preview
Click to enlarge

Until along came a many-legged spider by the name of Electronic Arts, who gobbled up DICE and took control of the Battlefield franchise. The staff at Trauma Studios, unwilling to move from their offices and get caught up in EA’s web, elected to shut down the studio instead.

Thankfully, THQ appeared in its fanciest Fairy Godmother costume and promptly reformed Trauma under the Kaos Studios name. The company was put to work on a new multiplayer game, this one to be designed with a slightly futuristic feel but retaining all the realistic details of Kaos’ earlier work.

The result was Frontlines: Fuel of War, which has been in development for a fair old while now and is due to move to open beta next week. Designed to feature a vast array of weapons and vehicles, all of which pull from real-life research and detailed analysis, Frontlines is a game that tries to walk the line between believability and escapism without falling arse over elbow.

Now you understand why it’s so interesting that Frontlines will be competing directly with Battlefield: Bad Company, developed by DICE EA. Isn’t history fun? Well, yes, it is – but blowing stuff up is even more fun, so flip the page and we’ll get onto looking at the game itself.
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