From: Oliver Clare
To: Kristan (EUROGAMER)
Subject: War Front: Turning Point Review
Sorry, but you won't be getting a War Front review from me after all. You know that business with the ****** ****** and the ****** I was telling you about, well it's all gone a bit Baghdad. I'm going to have to go abroad for a spell - keep my head down until the pesky ********* lose interest. They say the ******* Islands are nice this time of year ;-)
Attached is the WF review plan I was working on. Hopefully it will be of some use. The disc is in the post.
All the best. Thanks for all the commissions. Thanks for putting-up with all the cockamamie 'concept reviews' too!
****WAR FRONT: TURNING POINT review plan, 15/03/07*****
Paragraph 1. Pop-culture introduction using Guinness-Marmite analogy? 'War Front blends two of my favourite flavours...'
Ranty introduction moaning about the overuse of WW2 in RTS games? 'If I see another tiny Tiger tank I'm going to gouge it out of the screen with the pointy bit of a potato peeler...'
Historical introduction referencing WW2 Allied engineering tanks (Hobart's Funnies)? 'Some very strange vehicles trundled up Sword, Gold and Juno beaches on June 6th, 1944, but nothing half as bonkers as War Front's Sonic Tanks, Moles and Kharkov Rampagers...'
Gamey introduction focused on Digital Reality and its track record? 'This Budapest studio has been producing better-than-average strategy games for donkeys years, but are yet to produce a true classic. War Front doesn't alter the pattern...'
Risqué introduction mentioning Hitler's lederhosen fetish and Himmler's passion for goat udders. 'Talking of WW2 and perversion...'
Paragraph 2. Explain setting/concept. WW2 RTS with what-if weaponry. Sudden Strike meets Command & Conquer. (Mention Silent Storm and Return To Castle Wolfenstein?) Praise the novelty while acknowledging its superficiality.
Paragraph 3. Outline campaign plot. Hitler gets rubbed-out. Nazis make swift progress on the Western Front under new non-loopy leadership. Panzers roll across Westminster Bridge. Things look grim for the Brits. Then, slowly, with the player's assistance, the tide starts to turns. Britain, America, Russia and a German resistance movement drive the fascist beast back to its lair. An armistice is signed. Peace at last? Not blooming likely!
Paragraph 4. Comment on the conservative campaign sequences (two 12-scenario slabs, no branching) and the competent but unimaginative mission design within them. 'There's no real encouragement to explore maps or experiment with tactics. Most objectives can be taken with an ambling mass of tanks and mobile artillery... If infantry could have occupied building in addition to capturing them they might have been more useful.'
Paragraph 5. Talk about the turrets. 'While your caterpillared death mobs are rolling towards the enemy HQ, you can, if you're in the mood, jump into static base turrets and fend-off counterattacks Beachhead-style. Downing an eight-engined Lufwaffe goliath before it can disgorge its parachutists or bombs is always fun.'
Paragraph 6. Explain the three-tier tech system using the Allied tech tree as an example (Tier 1, Matildas, Priests, bazooka grunts... Tier 2, Shermans, commandos, P-38 Lightnings... Tier 3, Pershings, rolling shield generators, nuclear bombers...)
Paragraph 7. Give a feel of the Red roster, providing examples of the predictable/historical stuff (Katyushas, Molotov infantry, T-34s etc.) and the more imaginative units (Morale-boosting vodka dealers, tanks that can entomb enemies in cubes of ice, APCs that can traverse maps underground...)
Paragraph 8. Give a taste of the Kraut armoury (Stukas, Tiger tanks, flame-spitting halftracks, mechs, and those cool Reintochter guided ground-to-air missiles...) Mention that the Wurfrahmen mobile rocket launchers probably need to be nerfed in the first patch. Point-out the disappointing lack of U-boats, U-boat prey, and U-boat habitats. 'War Front is drier than a 1947 Chablis' (Too high-brow?) 'War Front is drier than an aquaphobe's swimming trunks' (Better)
Paragraph 9. Enthuse about action-packed cutscenes. 'Kung-fu duels, car chases, extravagant explosions, cackling baddies with whirring miniguns... someone obviously had a lot of fun making these movie chunks' Compliment developers/publishers on the quality of the acting and the writing. Draw attention to the tongue-in-cheek humour. 'The American and German heroes are cheesier than a Caen Camembert warehouse. Thankfully they're well aware of this fact...' Segue into analysis of...
Paragraph 10. Hero abilities. Examples? (Can't think of any. Probably a bad sign.) Mention that heroes can be inserted into planes and vehicles, and that their deaths don't trigger instant mission failure. 'Digital Reality wants you to use the protagonists rather than keep them wrapped in cotton-wool back at base.'
Paragraph 11. Describe the hassle-free two-resource economic model in a highly entertaining manner. Comment on the solid but surprise-free multiplayer mode recognising that most buyers will never touch it. Talk of the solid but surprise-less skirmish mode in a way that no reviewer has ever talked about a skirmish mode before. (Limerick? Elaborate custard metaphor?)
Paragraph 12: Say something about the intuitiveness of the interface. 'Don't waste your time with the tutorial missions; you already know how to play this game.' Comment on robust AI. 'It's always good to lock horns with an artificial adversary that understands the usefulness of repair trucks and knows it's sensible to add anti-air units to massed strike force.'
Paragraph 13. Conventional conclusion? Begin with qualified recommendation. 'From what I've seen of Command & Conquer 3, WF matches it in most important respects.' then reiterate the 'The novelty is fun, but it's really only skin deep' message.
Speculative conclusion? Remind WW2 buffs that Theatre of War is just around the corner, and War Front will probably be out on budget within six months.
Lazy conclusion? Wrap things up with a witty line that leaves readers grinning. Or, just stop writing in the middl