I'll admit, I was a little underwhelmed when I played the SP demo for Frontlines. My friends and I made jokes about how terrible it was. Then the MP demo was released, it shut us up a little, but the lag made this game into another big joke for us. I must say that I am throughly ashamed that I bashed this game.
The retail version of this game flat out rocks. If anyone says different, they only played the demos and their opinions count for squat. On with the review!
GRAPHICS: Definitely a mixed bag. You can really see the limitations of the Unreal III engine here. Though it is capable of handling most things with ease, open and expansive environments is not one of them. This isn't KAOS's fault by any means, but more of Epics (the engines creator). Maybe next time around KAOS will license the Cry2 engine (of FarCry 2 fame) instead. The draw distance, while not terrible is also not stellar. There's plenty of fog to fade the distant horizon. The texture work is definitely well done and adds a sense of realism to the environments, though at time it can get muddy or blurry when up close or at distance. The draw in and pop up can get annoying, but nothing you can't deal with. Especially since you're having this much fun. The guns are modeled well and while lack the punch of other games, they certainly get the job done. The vehicles also look very good and are well detailed. The lighting is some of the best I've seen in awhile and also lends to the realism of the sprawling battlefields. There are a few hiccups in frame rate when things take a turn towards chaotic, but nothing that's game breaking. Character models also have very good detail and are animated fairly smooth.
SOUND: If you have a surround sound system, crank it up! One of the things that I really liked about this game is that you can hear conflicts that are taking place far off in the landscape. It's not the fake background sounds that you hear in COD4 either. You can almost use these as audible beacons for finding the next huge skirmish or where team mates might be pinned down. It all just really cool hearing the small arms fire, cluster bombs, things blowing up with a far off echo. Even jets soaring overhead give off a high pitch roar, just before dropping bombs on you! The weapons also sound good.
GAMEPLAY: The controls work well as they should with a game of this type. My only gripe, albeit a small one, is that the crouch, prone and stand is used by the same button. I was hoping to something similar to BF2:MC toggle, so you don't have to go all the way prone from a crouch just to stand up. The aiming is spot on and I haven't experienced any problems tracking my enemies for the kill. The vehicles all take some time to get used to, but again, it's just a matter of learning. Before long you'll be zipping around in Humvees and soaring in aircraft with ease, with one notable exception: The fighter jet. This is probably the hardest of the vehicles to get the hang of. Once mastered though, it 's a valuable asset on the field. Provided it's in capable hands. Also, the game has different skill sets which can be mixed and matched with different classes. So you can have a sniper that can repair vehicles (why?) or a heavy gunner that can use drones. No matter what you're style of play is, you'll easily be able to find a class and skill set that you feel comfortable and confident with. My personal favorite is the assault class with the repair skill set. I like being a field mechanic. If the vehicle I'm riding in comes under fire, we can pull off somewhere and I can get to work repairing the vehicle for the next assault . Like I said, just find what works best for you and your play style.
ONLINE: I normally don't include and online section for my reviews, but seeing how the bulk of this game is MP oriented I figured it's worth noting. First off lets dispel the rumor of lag. You will only get lag if you play on a user created game and he can't host the maximum amount of players. This makes creating games almost useless, since any game with less than 20-30 is pointless because the maps are so big. Stick the the dedicated KAOS servers and you'll have no problem with lag. And yes, there is only one game type to speak of called Frontlines. Once you're into the game you won't care about CTF or any other match type, especially since this only game type works so well. Despite what the demo might have led you to believe, this game is awesome online. Get some friends, form a squad and have some fun!
VALUE: If you're a fan of this type of game, large conflict, team and class based combat, then you'll be in heaven. I'll be playing this game for awhile to come.