Developer: EA LA
Release Date: 5/28/02
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This was one of the first games that blew me away when I was a kid and made me proud to own a PS2. The opening D-Day scene took my breath away, all the explosions, the scripted scenes, the death animations, the sound, it was all here and the production values were through the roof. Looking back at it 11 years later makes throwing an egg on the floor more excited than watching this game. While I can’t compare it to games that came after it, even back then there were issues with the game, and they just really stick out now.
Frontline’s realism dropped off after the opening level. After D-Day, you get recruited to do special missions across Europe and are a one-man-army. It’s very unrealistic when you’re running around by yourself killing squads that an entire army takes to take down. You’re blowing up fuel depots, sabotaging equipment, assassinating important Nazi figureheads, and various other things. The game is solid, the scripting is still nice today, but the shooting mechanics and controls suck. There’s no aiming down the sights, instead, you just zoom in. Shooting from the hip has no reticle so this is useless. My biggest issue with the game, and even back then, was that it is insanely difficult and there are no checkpoints. If you die you restart the entire level which can be infuriating.
You have to be careful and run around finding health packs and ammo. You can pick up enemies’ weapons and instead are stuck with what you are given at the start unless you find a placed weapon. I did like the variety of enemies such as fat chefs throwing knives at you, engineers, cooks, butlers, and even enemies in robes. The death animations are still nice, but where’s the damn blood?! The game almost comes off as campy because it is so far from capturing the tragedy of WWII. Even back in the day, I felt this way. The pacing of the levels is also off because some levels will be really long and tough while others are super short.
I did find that the game had some fun cheat codes, but there’s no replay value. Multiplayer wasn’t put into the PS2 version, and even the graphics are lacking. There’s a lot of aliasing and the framerate drops tremendously during explosions. Everything does look clean and you can tell a lot of time and care was put into the game. I just can’t get over how bad the aiming is, it’s so squirrely and hard to get a bead on enemies. The game has a pretty decent length campaign and is worth the cheap price if you never played this game. Frontline was one of the best WWII games for a reason because it was one of the first to really have high production values.
In the end, Frontline feels very dated, but you can see why the game was praised so much back in the day. The production values still show, but the PS2 can’t keep up with the action. The aiming is terrible and the controls are all wrong, but what can you expect from an 11-year-old game?