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Frontlines: Fuel of War

Preview: THQ's Battlefield beater goes to war

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Imagine the chaos on the frontline when you have 32 players in a battle whipping out drones, rumbling in with tanks, sniping from afar, launching air strikes and whatnot at each other in their efforts to capture the objective points.

Walls actually crumble under the carnage, and in some cases levels that start off full of perfect structures are left with war-torn wreckage sites at the end.

It's nuts and, at first, somewhat overwhelming. You have so many options and so many weapons, that it's hard to know which ones to go for until you've played for a few hours to get a feel for everything.

But, crucially, the best thing is that you never feel like there's nothing you can do to counter an enemy's choice of attack. The numerous options means there always an obvious way to counter your enemy's actions, it's just a matter of team work and putting your counter plan into action effectively.

Going it alone

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Frontlines is, just like BF, primarily a multiplayer experience, but Kaos has used the frontline mechanic to put together a fully fledged single-player campaign.

The plot, set twenty years in the future, is based around the world's dwindling oil supply, and a fight that ensues for the remaining drops of oil found.

Single-player missions use the same frontlines mechanic but, instead of throwing you into the same maps as the multiplayer in 'fake single-player' bot matches, you are sent into sprawling new campaign maps with multiple objectives to complete.

The missions on the frontline vary from similar capture points, to rescue missions, planting C4 on enemy guns or equipment, assassination and more. Complete the objectives on one frontline and it moves pack, giving you your next set of missions.

Again, choice is of the essence, and that means that not only can you complete any of the objectives on the current frontline, but levels are large and open enough to give you a true choice of routes to your objectives.

Not a Call of Duty-style split path - that's linear design disguised as openness. We mean true open-ended levels. And you always have a choice of weapons too. You're attacking an enemy base, for example. What do you do? You can run in with big guns and do it CoD style, picking off enemies one by one like the super soldier you are.

Or you can deploy a helicopter drone and scope the place out before detonating it to weaken their defences. Or you could just rush in with a vehicle you spotted earlier, blasting fat explosives at anything that moves.

Enemies are reasonable intelligent, too. You'll see them running from cover to cover, pushing forward when they think they can take you and retreating when they realise they've no chance of defeating you.

It's not the ultra-refined, cinematic experience that Call of Duty 4's single-player is, but we blasted through four levels and enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Our only concern was that the normal mode was a little on the easy side, and we could take far too much punishment before dying. We're talking rockets straight to the face and we'd still be standing. So weapon balance may need some thought.

But Frontlines' focal point is in the multiplayer gameplay. With 32 players on 360 and PS3, and 60 players on PC, the battles are colossal, and the endless tactical choices available make for plenty of depth.

Check back next week for a huge interview with Frank Delise - General Manager of Kaos Studios, who talks more about the game, working with Unreal Engine 3, and his thoughts on the current console war.

For now, check out the newest screens of the action below. Also, get your butt over here to find out how you can get yourself on the multiplayer beta in our exclusive beta key give away.

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