Some say he has an Algerian Iron Front, some say he was born in 1944. All we know, is he is our Algerian reporter KoubaDZ and he has spent the last week hammering away at the latest addition to the Arma II world, Iron Front: Liberation 1944. Having returned from the front lines and submitted his review for the game, we present to you, Iron Front: Liberation 1944.
- MS Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate
- Intel Core i5 2500k @ 4.50GHz
- 8.00GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 1600Mhz (9-9-9-24)
- Asus P67 Sabertooth
- 1 × Hanns G (1680×1050@60Hz)
- 1 × HIS Radeon HD 6950 ICEQ X Turbo
If you like the wonderful sandbox game ArmA2 along with the incredible freedom it offers, then you’ll more than likely love Iron Front: Liberation 1944.
After only just being brought back to life by the hands of the ‘DayZ’ mod, developers have taken advantage of the leap in interest and popularity by choosing just the right time to release yet another game that utilizes the Arma II OA engine (by Bohemia Interactive), only this time, Deep Silver and X1 Software/AWAR have undertaken a WW2 rendition of the game, ‘Iron Front Liberation: 1944’ and boy does it pack some heat, hardware heat.
The realistic, tactical shooter is set during the final stages of World War II in war-scarred Poland. In the campaign, players are given the choice to play with the ferocious Russians, or to fight along with the fierce Germans. Gamers take part in the crucial battles of summer, 1944, clashing through immense battlefields and rich experiences.
For the campaign mode of Iron Front, the developers have ensured that players are put through some training and not merely thrown into the conflict without any know-how. There are two separate training workouts to provide a brief demonstration of the differences between weapons and vehicles for both armies. Training is mandatory and quite varied; players are trained to understand the basic elements of the weaponry, from shooting , to throwing grenades but unfortunately, no training on the manoeuvring of vehicles has been provided.
The German campaign draws it’s attention to slowing the advance of the Soviet troops, while the Russian campaign is primarily about breaching through the enemy’s resistance. However, players do not have to do all of this on foot; Iron Front 1944 allows you to control tanks, including the famous German battle tank Panzerkampfwagen VI or “Königstiger” and the Russian Stalin tank JS2, fighter planes such as the Focke Wulf 190 and dive bombers such as the Stuka or the Petlyakov PE-2.
After having played through the single-player, I can say that I am really happy with the way that gamers have been given such an immersive ‘WWII’ experience. Thanks to the inclusion of trenches, outposts, key roads, bridges and hills, the game has included all of the above in such a way that the skirmishes and battles that ravaged eastern Europe during the Second World War have been recreated in a truly immersive setting.
While the above is all great news, unfortunately, there were a few gripes with the single-player. I couldn’t find a way to skip the cut-scenes, which meant that if players ever decide to play through the game again, they would have to sit through the entire story once more, this inevitably deters from the replay value just a tad. Additionally, I have come across a few bugs and glitches here and there but a bug free game is hard to come across these days, what matters is the post-release support and that the bugs will eventually be sorted out. The game has already been patched this week fixing some of the issues, lets hope any remaining bugs get fixed soon too.
Game Engine & Animations
Apart from being slightly clunky, the game engine is pretty solid. Considering the scale of the maps and the outstanding attention to detail, its something I can look over.
In terms of animations, I felt that the game could have been improved in this area. With what we are used to these days, the bar is set pretty high, so sometimes when soldiers would “teleport” or the polygons cross in unusual ways, it does make you wish things like that were ironed out prior to release of the game. But as a whole, it is certainly acceptable and doesn’t detract from the overall game. I should note that I am glad to see that the death animations are a lot more varied and realistic now.
Graphics and Performance
So how does the performance stack up? Well I can certainly say that its demanding, and that’s coming from someone with a mid/high spec PC. However, the graphics for Iron Front are simply fantastic, it is one of the only WW2 games I have played that really seem to nail the look of the uniforms, equipment and vehicles accurately and beautifully. So for those that really like attention to detail in the surroundings and textures, the game wont disappoint.
Controls & Additional Features
If you are new to the Arma franchise, you may not be familiar with the somewhat ‘complex’ Arma controls, there is certainly quite a big learning curve, but once players are used to the controls and various functions, it becomes an extremely rewarding, enjoyable experience.
An interesting concept that the engine has always implemented is the ‘action menu’ where players are able to interact on various levels with military instruments, mapping systems, third-person view and free Inventory style role-playing. As well as various other goodies, even the ability to retrieve objects from the equipment of fellow (and in some cases enemy) corpses are enabled in the game.
Another great part of the engine is the editor itself. It really does extend the game for hours of extra gameplay, enabling you to create missions that can then be shared with the community.
This is an area which I hope gets some attention in future patches. I found that the audio ‘effects’ in Iron Front can get quite repetitive and lacklustre. As I mentioned before, the uniforms and vehicles have a real authentic feel to them, however, there is nothing that really gives you that WWII vibe and immersion with the weapon or vehicle sounds. The music on the other hand has been done well and is used brilliantly, recreating the feel and atmosphere of the 1944 summer times.
Multiplayer and Combat
The online multiplayer game modes have been fairly interesting. Players can either undertake co-op missions or compete with each other in intense multiplayer modes such as “Capture the Flag”, “Attack and Defense”, “Deathmatch”, “Tanks Only” and “Blitzkrieg”. In “Blitzkrieg”, players battle for the control of specific spawn points. The mission may be set with various amounts of infantry, tanks, vehicles and aircrafts. So whilst one team defends, the other team initiates a fierce storm of the enemy’s strongpoints.
Infantry combat can be quite engaging, even more so when teamwork comes into play. The infantry combat involves various types of weapons and grenades, a few glitches just means that the game just needs a few little tweaks to reach perfection. The Tank combat seems to simulate received-damage quite well by demonstrating armour penetration and internal damage. Air combat is difficult but rewarding when undertaken correctly. The flying mechanics are difficult enough to control, never mind trying to aim at the enemy target!
So while the game modes and technical aspects of the game are great, one downside is that unfortunately, I found the online component can be unreliable and buggy. This is an area that I am hoping there will be major improvements in, especially with the oh-so-annoying server restarts or the ‘No message received’ errors. Its a shame when a good game is let down by multiplayer issues and the community misses out on what can be a great experience.
Clearly, the attention to detail is superb, the atmosphere is truly authentic (as far as virtual fire-fights go) and so far the campaign has been quite interesting (of course, if you don’t like the ARMA game mechanics then it may not be your cup of tea).
So who is this game for?
If you already know and love Arma 2, buy it, since it uses the exact same code, has a very similar gameplay feel and much of the same quirks and bugs. Iron Front 1944 does not try to apologise for the clunkiness or defects of the Arma engine, nor does it assist players too much in understanding and figuring the engine out. Ultimately, players are supposed to already know a lot of that. This in a way makes it a niche game (more like a pay-for mod), but saying that, it is also very rewarding if you’re part of the target audience.
Serious WW2 interested tactical gamers will find so many things to like, including realism (armour damage system, mines, just to name some unique things) that even vanilla ARMA2 doesn’t offer without heavy modding. Is it perfect for an initial release? Probably not, as there were some things that could have been done better, but Im confident that the developers will surely work hard to ‘iron’ out bugs and continue improving things that are ready to enjoy right now.
Thanks AWAR, X1, DS and BI for a fresh, exciting release.
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