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Bridging The Gap VA Family

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David Bell
David Bell

Frontlines: Fuel Of War

By 2024, a global energy crisis and a worldwide avian influenza outbreak plague the world. As supplies of oil and natural gas wane and with alternative energy like solar power, bio-fuel, and nuclear energy still insufficient to replace oil completely, diplomatic relationships between the East and West are strained, causing two new alliances to be formed, the Western Coalition, an evolution of NATO, and the Red Star Alliance, an evolution of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Red Star launches a surprise attack on the Western Coalition in retaliation to proof of the Coalition supporting a coup d'état in the oil-rich Red Star member nation Turkmenistan in 2021. As the last oil fields in the Caspian Sea start to go dry, the countries move to secure what resources are left, leading to several small outbreaks that turn quickly into full-scale war.

Frontlines: Fuel of War

  • Achievement Mockery: There's a zero-point achievement named "Noob" for suiciding 10 times in a multiplayer game.

  • A Storm Is Coming: Practically used word for word in the intro.

  • Bag of Spilling: Used to the point of frustration. Each mission comes in two halves, and everything you had before the loading screen is gone after it because weapons are provided on a per-map basis. The first noticeable case is the third mission Anvil, where your sniper rifle and shotgun are swapped for a standard assault rifle and your minigun tank drone is removed.

  • Bittersweet Ending: The Chinese are still fighting, partisan militias are coming out of the woodwork, and winter's yet to come. Good luck soldier, you'll need it.

  • Boom, Headshot!: An instant kill, plus you see the enemy's hat go flying.

  • Bottomless Magazines: Although applying realistic ammunition for infantry, some vehicles and emplacements have infinite ammo.

  • Dated History: It's not quite 2024 yet, but it's close enough that it's pretty clear Post-Peak Oil isn't happening anytime soon. Back in 2008 the doomsday scenario happening in that timeframe seemed more plausible, due to inaccurate scientific data at the time, and a failure to predict the full effect of the US shale boom.

  • Division Nickname: Your division is always referred to as the Stray Dogs. Its official designation is the 125th Strike Division.

  • Failed Future Forecast: Like many works , the game didn't predict the massive boom in US oil and gas production, driven by advancements in shale fracking. This boom made the US a net exporter of oil and natural gas by the end of the 2010s. As a result, the game's Post-Peak Oil scenario in 2024 winds up being very unrealistic. 2022 saw a Russian invasion of Ukraine, creating the most tension between NATO and Russian since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Ukraine invasion, combined with "green energy"-motivated curbs on domestic oil production by the Biden administration and possible unspecified malfeasance by the Trump administration have resulted in oil shortages and skyrocketing prices for gas. While total oil collapse and World War III by 2024 are still (hopefully) unlikely, they're a whole lot less ridiculous seeming in 2022 than they were in 2021.

  • Friendly Fireproof: Standard use in the campaign - your allies don't flinch to your attacks.

  • Gang Up on the Human: Enemies tend to target the player even when it's less efficient to do so. Examples include using bullets on a tank (which do no damage), rockets on infantry (easily dodged and ignoring the nearby tank), and attacking a drone you're controlling (stopping the instant you exit drone control.)

  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: In the game's backstory, natural disasters and resource shortage has forced every country to turn into an authoritarian police state just to avoid collapse. Also, the remaining fossil fuel in the world is only enough to sustain half of it. The Western Coalition is no better than the Red Star Alliance in any way, and the war is motivated solely by survival.

  • Heroic Sacrifice: One unit of Stray Dogs ends up pulling this, trapping themselves in a Russian ICBM base to prevent the missile from being launched.

  • Hold the Line: There are two instances. The first is within Anvil, where you hold out against enemies that try to reclaim the objective for 10 minutes. The second is in the final mission where you and a handful of Coalition soldiers, repel a massive Red Star force by killing them.

  • Hopeless War

  • It's Up to You: In the single player campaign, only the player can capture objectives (even if your allies are standing right next to them). In addition, the player is the only one that can inflict significant damage.

  • One Bullet Clips: Subverted - reloading a clip always works like it would in real life. Taking every opportunity to reload uses up much more ammo than it would in ordinary FPS games.

  • Post-Peak Oil: The cause of the war. The fact that the vehicles being used to fight it are fossil fuel-powered is lampshaded in the loading screens.

  • Non-Fatal Explosions: In Graveyard, the final objective is to plant an explosive charge on the fuel line, with the timer set to five seconds. In the cutscene, it destroys the missile and the attached tower and implies the player survived due to a successful mission.

  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Averted; instead of trying to emulate the linear, roller coaster style Call of Duty experience, Frontlines' single-player campaign instead plays like a single-player, slightly more scripted and objective-based version of a Battlefield match, with capture points, more open levels with multiple approaches, etc. Kaos Studio's next game, Homefront, would go the opposite direction and attempt to emulate a Call of Duty single player campaign with only a fraction of the budget.

  • Regenerating Health: You can take multiple rounds to the chest and be inches from death, but as long as you don't get shot for five seconds, you'll dust yourself off and keep fighting. Vehicles also regenerate health, but much more slowly.

  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Russian Premier actually fights you in the final mission. He's no tougher than a regular soldier, though he does use an LMG. It is somewhat noticeable since the earlier enemy V.I.P., the General, kills himself off-screen rather than face you himself.

  • Sequel Hook: The ending has the Russians already setting up a government in exile, the Chinese massing on the Russian borders, partisan militias coming out to resist you and winter yet to come.

  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: At most, the two nukes only hit off-map targets, and they're only called small nukes. While they still inflict radiation, it wears off after you defeat three tank waves.

  • Sticky Bomb: C4 can be thrown on tanks.

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The game takes place in the year 2024, "post peak oil, post Middle East, post... everything." The Western Coalition uses a heavily modified XM8 as their primary assault rifle, while the Red Star Alliance uses a heavily modified bullpup AK-series rifle, and military robotics are widespread.

  • Video-Game Lives: The single player campaign provides a set number of redeployments per mission. Multiplayer appears to use a respawn ticket system.

  • World Half Empty

  • World War III: The entire point of the game is that oil has run out, sparking it off.

However, to start with I can say that the reconnaissance jeep of the Red Star Alliance (i.e. not the Euro-Americans, but the other side, the Ruso-Chinese power bloc) is referred to in the game as the "GZ-550." It seems clear from this vehicle shape and designation that it would really be "GAZ-550" -- made by the Russian vehicle manufacturing company GAZ (Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod), which in real life makes a wide variety of light to medium ground vehicles for military and civilian use. For example, GAZ makes the various series of vehicles that Western observers today lump together by calling "the Soviet/Russian equivalent of a Jeep" and "the Soviet/Russian equivalent of a Hummer" respectively. Without having paid for a license from GAZ, the makers of the game cannot call their idea of a futuristic "Russian jeep" a GAZ-550, for then they would be sued. You can also see this because on the game web site page where a description of this vehicle is provided, the writer at first calls it by the "laundered" name "GZ-550," but then in the second line of text the writer has actually made a typo and has accidentally written "GAZ-550" instead. It seems reasonable that this is imagined to be what will come after the brand new GAZ-2975 Tigr (Tiger) which the Russians have today, especially because the model numbers of GAZ vehicles do not have to be in order. You can see from the game descriptions that each side in the fighting has a vehicle for this role, the Western Coalition calls theirs "Light Vehicle, Standard" (LVS). Both of these are described realistically as next-generation hybrid vehicles, both have features like capturing extra energy from braking and engine designs that give surges of extra power in an emergency. Both run on new combinations of regular petroleum and synthetic fuel. This makes perfect sense in a world where oil shortages have gotten so bad that a new World War has broken out because of it.

They didn't just want the next-gen theme to extend to the platforms the game will appear on, either, but to the weapons and vehicles you get to play with - which meant a futuristic setting was required. So, Frontlines is set a few years from now, in a world where the depletion of fossil fuels has reached crisis point and a global war has kicked off. The Western Coalition (the US and EU) and the Red Star Alliance (Russia and China) are fighting it out for the last remaining oil on the planet, using all the cutting-edge military technology they can get their hands on.

Well, there you have it - Frontlines: Fuel of War is not just about next-gen graphics, but next-gen gameplay, next-gen mission structures, next-gen multiplayer action and next-gen blowing stuff up. But will it really set the standard for what we can expect from next-gen first-person shooters? Well, they've got enough time to give it a go, since Frontlines is out in autumn 2007. Providing the world hasn't collapsed on account of there not being any fossil fuels left by then, of course. 041b061a72


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