Frontline: Fields of Thunder Review
Frontline: Fields of Thunder is a World War II RTS that will look very familiar to anyone who’s played any of the Blitzkrieg 2 games. This is because it is essentially the same game but with campaigns that are centered on the Eastern Front’s Battle of Kursk. Since you get the same game engine as the Blitzkrieg 2 games, you also get all of the same issues. Unfortunately this means that Frontline will only really appeal to the small group of gamers that are Blitzkrieg fans.
Frontline features two campaigns, one for the Germans and one for the Soviets. While ostensibly set during the Battle of Kursk, the game has very little that ties it into the historical events of that battle. The missions tend to call for you to destroy enemy units, capture something, or destroy something else, and are pretty much the same sort of thing that you did in Blitzkrieg 2 so there’s nothing really here to recreate the actions of Kursk. There are no mission introductions or briefings; you’re pretty much dropped into a mission and given a confusing or vague objective or two and then left to fend for yourself.
The mission structure in the game suffers from the same problem that permeated Blitzkrieg 2, namely they’re laid out in such a way as to be essentially very unforgiving puzzles. The maps and enemy positions are set-up perfectly to wipe out your limited forces at almost every step of the way. Since the game is very stingy with reinforcements, you’ll feel the loss of every single unit. Making matters even more difficult is that the enemy has been given a greater sighting distance than you, so you’ll often watch a tank or two in your column go up in flames before you even see the anti-tank gun with perfect aim become uncovered from the fog of war shroud. There’s not really much room to maneuver and flank in the missions, so you’re pretty much forced to take on the same enemy emplacements from the same direction each time you play a mission. Successfully completing a mission becomes an iterative exercise in which you will eventually learn the position of the enemy units each time they wipe you out until you can finally try and make a serious go at victory. Knowing the enemy’s positions on the map is no guarantee of victory, though, as the game is very unforgiving of mistakes and mistakes are easy to make because your unit AI can be pretty sketchy at times. Pathfinding and target selection are a continual problem, forcing you to carefully babysit your units at each step along the way. To me the game feels more like an exercise in frustration in search of the predetermined route through a mission than a strategic challenge, and that’s not what I look for in a strategy game.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 58%. Frontline: Fields of Thunder turns all out tank warfare into a tedious puzzle.