A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a futuristic military shooter. Using a variety of military implements, from rifles and pistols to rocket launchers and robotic drones, players will kill hundreds of enemy combatants in the campaign mode, perhaps even more online. Blood spurts from soldiers' bodies when they are struck by bullets, and they spin and flail rather realistically as they fall to the ground. Plenty of curse words are heard between missions as allied soldiers talk about current events and upcoming objectives, though the script stops short of extreme profanity. There is no sexuality, nor any use of controlled substances.
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What's it about?
FRONTLINES: FUEL OF WAR imagines a near-future world in which oil wells are quickly drying up. Rioting erupts on the streets of once-calm cities, and the only way the superpowers can keep their countries running is to go to war over the few remaining drops of crude. Players control an American soldier on the frontline as his unit engages Russian and Chinese forces in battles for overseas refineries and wells. At your disposal is an armory of futuristic weaponry that includes not just high powered rifles and advanced armor, but also a fleet of remotely-controlled drones, small helicopters, and tiny tanks that you can pilot behind enemy lines from relative safety as you battle to push your lines forward and advance your cause.
Is it any good?
In both campaign and online multiplayer modes, the action takes place on large, free-to-roam maps, and players can tackle objectives in whatever order they choose. This liberty of choice is the game's shtick, as it were, designed to provide players the ability to develop their own strategies for each mission. But in practice, tactics are surprisingly unnecessary. Players will usually find just as much success rushing headlong toward whichever objective appears closest on the map. The only time any sort of strategizing really becomes attractive is when you come into possession of the game's futuristic flying drones, which can be great fun to pilot. They have the ability provide a bird's eye view of a battlefield, which is useful for identifying enemy troop locations. They also typically carry a heavy load of ammunition, making them surprisingly effective offensive tools. But the attack prowess of these machines can be a double-edged sword; they're sometimes so powerful that they can take an enemy objective all their own, which has the effect of making the campaign mode feel, at times, too easy.
In the end, Frontlines is a perfectly competent shooter with an interesting hook, but it simply doesn't stand apart in any significant way from the glut of big budget, high gloss first-person shooters currently lining store shelves. Older gamers with a taste for the genre will likely find it to be a reasonably satisfying romp, nothing more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the futuristic world portrayed in the game. Try discussing concerns about how our government is planning to deal with the world's dwindling supply of oil. How do you think it will affect everyday life in America? In other countries? Do you believe that, as oil supplies diminish, countries will wage war over the few remaining oil wells? Or will the world's nations be prepared, and have found alternative materials and energy sources? The game may also pave the way for a discussion of technology in war. Does advanced military hardware make our troops safer? Do you think it is a good idea to rely on unmanned machines to do as much of the fighting in real world conflicts as possible?
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