Welcome to the first Secret Area post of 2019. Here’s something that was several months in the making. This was mostly due to procrastination. Naturally, I’m writing about a game I finished last year, two days short of a year after I had beaten it. And it’s a callback to a post I made last June. Let’s do this.
Last year, I had written a somewhat scathing review of the 2010 Medal of Honor reboot, which took the legacy of a long-standing WWII FPS franchise and basically ruined it by being a Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare copycat. You can check that post out here. At the end of that post, I had hinted towards a game that I had said was just as close to the original Medal of Honor games.
Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch, but it is a World War II FPS, and surprisingly a decent one at that.
Enemy Front was a shooter released in 2014 for various platforms, including PC. Released by CI Games, it was a fairly unknown budget shooter in an era where those kind of shooters were slowly disappearing due to the drought of retail games as well as the prevalence of Steam making it a newer (and cheaper!) haven for the cheap schlock of the past.
I had heard of it thanks to a certain YouTube personality. Ahoy – later a maker of wonderful flashy documentaries about Doom, Half-Life, the Amiga, and many others – had done a video chronicling the arsenal of Enemy Front. He had done similar videos before for Call of Duty and other franchises, and would later be revised to an all-purpose format with his Iconic Arms series of videos. I’m still waiting for the new season of Iconic Arms, just to see what games he uses as an example for the weapon he’s talking about.
Though, it wasn’t just a British YouTube personality talking about a budget polish-developed FPS’s weaponry that got me to snag Enemy Front. It was also dirt cheap on a Steam sale. All it takes is something to be under $5 and you’ve caught my interest almost immediately.
Enough preamble. Let’s get to the meat and actually talk about Enemy Front proper. You play as American journalist Robert Hawkins as he reports the stories of a resistance front all around Europe. Hawkins’s voice sounds familiar to me. There’s no voice cast in the game itself, and IMDB only gives a brief unconfirmed list. I swear I heard him in that infamous Duty Calls game I also wrote about long ago, but there’s no proper credits for that one (or for Enemy Front).
Later meeting up with resistance fighters, Hawkins must stop the Nazi menace in various locales around Europe, including during the Warsaw Uprising. A fair share of the game takes place around that Polish conflict. It’s fitting, considering developer/publisher CI Games is based in Warsaw, Poland.
At the very beginning of this article, I had said how this was similar to Medal of Honor in spirit. While it’s not the long-awaited Medal of Honor game people have been asking for since the 2000s; it certainly has the same sort of spirit the original games had – and by original games, I mean basically any Medal of Honor prior to Rising Sun. Enemy Front knows what it wants to be, and that’s a pure action game with a fair share of B-movie bombast.
Though CI Games does do something with Enemy Front that not many other shooters of its kind do these days, and that’s stealth combat. The game runs on CryEngine, the same engine that powered Crysis, a game that gave players many options to tackle objectives. Enemy Front is no different: While there are main objectives the player must cross, there are areas where the player can hide from Nazi soldiers while discreetly eliminating them to make it across to the next area.
There really isn’t a whole lot else to say about the game, really. Grab guns, shoot nazis, occasionally blow up tanks and complete objectives. The game does encourage to be sneaky more than shooty, with a fair share of suppressed weaponry, and mechanics of hiding bodies and shooting during loud noises like explosions or airplanes flying overhead to minimize detection. This doesn’t mean the game doesn’t stop you from doing the common route of “kill every enemy wearing a swastika dead,” it probably just makes things a bit easier on you.
From the screenshots, you might’ve noticed the rather minimalist HUD. Enemy Front has to win the award for the most compact HUD I’ve ever seen in an FPS. The minimap, your weapons and ammo, even the stealth meter are in one giant circle on the lower left hand side of the screen. I could understand trying to make it easier for players to know what they’re doing, but there’s a reason everything’s spread out throughout the screen in games.
If this all sounds fairly boilerplate stuff for an action game, that’s because it is. Enemy Front does not reinvent the wheel, at all. For all the things it does, none of it is especially original. Hawkins can only hold two weapons like in Call of Duty, there’s sections where Hawkins busts open a door and shoots everyone in slow motion like in Modern Warfare 2, there’s even a somewhat elaborate bullet drop system with scoped weapons, complete with a slow-motion bullet cam if a Nazi is killed with a headshot like in Rebellion’s Sniper Elite games.
With this being a CI Games product, there’s a fair share of eurojank throughout. There are lots of typos in the game’s subtitles, occasional glitches where Nazis somehow learned to levitate, there were even moments where the game locked up for me while it was loading. These could be dealbreakers for some, but for others, there’s potential for humorous game footage montages.
There’s also multiplayer, but I honestly didn’t play it. I figure five years after it’s release that there’s likely nobody playing it. This feels like a game that just has multiplayer because everybody else had it, and it wasn’t really necessary. I doubt anyone would’ve been playing this instead of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare that year.
One more interesting bit: Cris Velasco is the composer of this game’s score. He’s that one composer who has done additional incidental music in a game you’ve probably played: Prototype, God of War II, Mass Effect 3, Resident Evil 7, this guy’s been around. To see him get roped into this was probably considered a big get for CI Games, and while the score is nothing to write home about, it fits well here.
Despite all that, I did find some bit of enjoyment with Enemy Front. I have a softer spot for the more average, unremarkable games compared to most other people. Clearly there’s a bit of heart put into this despite some of the unnecessary mechanics and the odd voice acting. It’s not a game that’ll set the world on fire, but it doesn’t have to.
CI Games’ work is never really groundbreaking. At most they just adapt from other, better contemporary shooters, but with occasional glitches, game-breaking bugs and weird dialogue. It’s firmly in eurojank territory, and that’s what makes it charming to me. It’s not worth the $20 asking price, but if you find it for real cheap – and trust me, that happens quite frequently – it’s worth a few hours and some enjoyment. It’s not the true successor to Medal of Honor, but it’s good enough.
I mean, it’s better than the 2010 Medal of Honor, that’s for sure. But honestly, that’s not that hard.