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War Front: Turning Point

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: CDV
Developer: Digital Reality


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PC Review - 'War Front: Turning Point'

by Tim McCullough on March 1, 2007 @ 2:22 a.m. PST

War Front: Turning Point explores an alternate World War II, one in which Hitler is assassinated in the early days. This new timeline includes more than just new leadership. Players will take command of experimental weapons, prototype vehicles and units rarely seen in strategy games in an attempt to alter or secure the historical outcome of World War II.

Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Publisher: CDV / 10Tacle Studios
Developer: Digital Reality
Release Date: February 19, 2007

What if certain key events of World War II had occurred differently? Would the balance of the war have changed drastically if Germany had invaded England and had the chance to implement some of their technically superior war machines? The new RTS game Warfront: Turning Point loosely explores these questions while adding a science fiction twist to the war machines of World War II.

The design and layout of Warfront: Turning Point will be familiar to anyone who has ever played any one of the dozens of real-time strategy games that have been released over the last decade. You have base building, resource gathering, upgrade/research trees and unit management tools such as 0-9 grouping keys. The game maps are presented in standard top-down RTS fashion, you can zoom in and out, and the mouse can be used to provide a complete 360-degree rotation of the battlefield. These features are now generally accepted as the cornerstones of any good RTS.

Warfront: Turning Point extends the basic RTS feature set by adding elements such as stacked and looping unit production, the ability to have newly constructed units automatically assigned to a specific group, unit promotion and unit forwarding from previous missions. With certain defensive weapons, you have the option of entering the unit and engaging enemies in first-person combat. In Warfront: Turning Point, you will gain a significant defense bonus when using the first-person mode.

Warfront: Turning Point also incorporates powerful "hero" units which offer some unique upgrades and specializations including automatic money generation, group bonuses and offensive/defensive upgrades. Heroes are also the only units allowed to enter vehicles which, besides allowing for the obvious improvement to their mobility, also provide a defensive bonus. Similar to the hero units found in other RTS titles, if your heroes are eliminated, they can be regenerated at your barracks for a small fee.

Although Warfront: Turning Point is not as statistically complex as Company of Heroes, the game still feels well-balanced. As is usually the case, for every unit in the game, there is a counter-unit to even up the confrontations. There are a few distinct differences between the three factions in the game. Allied players will not need to worry about power; German and Russian players will be required to create power plants to support their war machines. Where the Allies have noted air superiority, Germans have a stronger armor position and the Russians have greater defense bonuses through their entrenchment capability. Unfortunately, general offensive and defensive bonuses are limited to research upgrades and promotions. Absent for all factions are defensive bonuses for using ground cover and buildings. In fact, although most of the buildings in the game are destructible, you are unable to garrison inside them.

The economic model for Warfront: Turning Point is pretty straight forward. All units are purchased with money, which is primarily generated at resource centers by harvesting mines or by capturing oil derricks. Additional money can be generated through the capture and sale of enemy buildings. Special upgrades for your aero-research facility and for one of the heroes can also generate a regular stream of cash to help finance your operations.

A nice hardware surprise: If you own a Logitech G15 LCD keyboard, Warfront: Turning Point provides money totals, army totals, and game messages right on your keyboard LCD display.

Visually, Warfront: Turning Point shines brightly; everything from menus to loading screens are professionally designed and illustrated. In-game, building details and animations are meticulous, and campaign missions are enhanced with detailed beginning and ending cut scenes. Several missions include picture-in-picture movies to smoothly transition between multiple objective assignments occurring on the same campaign map. I especially enjoy the shockwave effect that occurs frequently after a vehicle or building explodes. Warfront: Turning Point utilizes a well-designed physics engine which allows units to realistically flip and tumble through the air when attacked, usually in a multitude of pieces.

Additionally, the game's coders did a great job of integrating environmental effects into the gameplay. For example, vehicle headlights turn on at night, while rain prevents the use of air support units. It is even possible to have a unit destroyed by lightning during a storm, although I wouldn't expect this one to be experienced too often. The sound experience in Warfront: Turning Point is on par with the graphics quality. Music and sound effect levels are fully adjustable and work well to enhance the battle experience without being too weak or overbearing. This, of course, is only true if you don't play your games at volume levels that could perm your hair.

The campaign mode in Warfront: Turning Point allows players to sequentially advance through 11 primary missions as an Allied player or 11 missions as a German player. As the Allied campaign story goes, Colonel John Lynch, a gifted engineer in the U.S. military's aviation and special weapons group, is tasked with stealing enemy technologies and sabotaging the enemy's efforts to win the war. You facilitate Colonel Lynch and his trusty grenade launcher, as he navigates through each mission completing primary and secondary objectives. To break up the campaign consistency, some campaign maps include more than one set of assigned objectives.

The campaign narration and well-rendered cut scenes do a decent job of explaining why new objectives are being assigned; however, even with sentimental prose from Lynch, such as, "I could never shoot a babe in the back, even a ruthless Russian babe," the campaign story as a whole never really impresses. Despite story weaknesses, you can gain some additional satisfaction playing the campaigns by earning medals on most maps. A total of nine medals can be awarded for the Allied campaign and 10 medals for the German campaign.

After completing all 22 missions, a well-designed skirmish mode with three levels of A.I. difficulty helps to prolong the replay value of the game. Since the skirmish mode uses the multiplayer maps, players can sharpen their skills and develop team strategies prior to diving into actual online multiplayer games.

Warfront: Turning Point contains a fairly nice multiplayer system. Up to 10 players can compete individually or in team combinations using the three available factions (Allies, Germans, and Russians) on either a LAN or the Internet using the Gamespy match-making service. The match-making interface is fully featured and nicely detailed and even includes server ping information. Gamers playing Warfront: Turning Point online will have their results tabulated and added to Warfront: Turning Point's web-based ladder system.

As a server host, you can customize various game parameters, including specifying team starting locations and selecting from 26 different multiplayer maps. Although I only checked out Deathmatch, Warfront: Turning Point offers four distinct game types in multiplayer mode: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Conquest, and Secret Orders. In Secret Orders, each player is required to complete an assigned objective, and the first player to complete his objective wins the game. The title also includes the ability to save game replays, which is a big plus for team-based play.

If you are an RTS fan, you will certainly want to add Warfront: Turning Point to your collection. The only major issue I had with the game was the inability to garrison units inside buildings. While the title may bring more similarities than innovation to the genre, it is certainly a high-quality offering with a solid multiplayer portion and excellent replay value.

Score: 8.0/10

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