The origins of Frontlines: Fuels of War are the stuff of game dev hobbyist dreams. The creators of the most popular mod for Battlefield 1942, then amateurs, were turned into a professional development team by THQ, and formed Kaos Studios. The game was essentially a precursor to Homefront, a title that sadly ended the studio. Yet, in its own right, Frontlines: Fuels of War stands a a piece of interactive entertainment worthy of your attention. Even nearly two decades on.

Set in the near-future and providing war-torn cityscapes as it’s playground, Frontlines: Fuels of War was THQ’s hope for the tug-of-war style FPS crown. Akin to the Battlefield series – and in many respects, THQ’s first Xbox 360 offering; The Outfit: Destruction on Demand – Frontlines: Fuels of War is an objective-based FPS in which moving to and from, and capturing each outpost is the order of the day.

Frontlines: Fuels of War screenshot

Alone on the Frontline of War

The single-player Campaign consists of only seven missions, and as such has often been the biggest criticisms of the game. Much like ShadowRun and Warhawk before it, Frontlines: Fuels of War had been built primarily around online multiplayer. The fact that the single-player does actually amount to a worthwhile effort is more than can be said for many of it’s peers. Each of the missions takes around 40-to-90 minutes on first play-through. As such, the Campaign still holds a meaty six-or-so hours.

The missions play-out as a subtly disguised training areas for the multiplayer. Each introduces new weapons and tech when necessary, as the player advances. The Campaign’s story is comparatively light-weight, but the competent – if not groundbreaking – AI still make for a rewarding experience.

The scenery is full of the usual drab oil refineries and city streets that FPS games of that era throw-up, but each is littered with detail. On a par with the likes of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, litter blows in the streets and gunfire can be heard for miles around. The weapon variety is basic, but justifiably so. What isn’t so justifiable, however, is the limited ammo supply. A convenience for tactics sake in multiplayer. But why in single-player it’s not possible to pick-up dropped enemy weapons will forever remain a mystery. 

Frontlines: Fuels of War consists of the usual array of tanks and 4x4s to drive. It also features a selection of Drones, which was novel at the time. Drones are small remote-controlled vehicles that come equipped with machine guns, rocket launchers or mines, and can have devastating consequences.

Frontlines: Fuels of War screenshot

Fuel the Fires of War with Friends

Online however, is where things really heat-up. A fantastic assortment of gameplay scenarios and options to tweak matches to their finest details allow players to be inventive. Weapon loadouts and Character Classes allow in-team balance to be rewarding in any circumstances. Allowing up to 50-players online, Frontlines: Fuels of War once held the record as the largest online battlefield available on consoles, and did it with grace.

Here in 2024, Frontlines: Fuels of War is remarkably still playable online. Games are stable and relatively trouble-free. Though of course, finding players of equal skill level is not as easy as it once was. They are also now limited to client-side 16 player matches. Which is still respectable.

Frontlines: Fuels of War screenshot

War, War is Gray

Frontlines: Fuels of War is graphically capable, but never really shined even back in 2008. Like Halo 3 before it, it soon becomes clear that the Xbox 360’s horsepower was being used elsewhere, and that it was never going to be the best looking game on the system. As is often the case, the soundtrack promotes the same values as the visuals, and has thankfully chosen to avoid licensed tracks.

Frontlines: Fuels of War was a package that delivered on it’s promises. Neatly settling atop its genre, but without shaking up to much ground. It was easy to see how Frontlines: Fuels of War could be toppled – and certainly was before the console generation was out – but as a team with something to prove, Kaos Studios had made their mark. Nearly two decades on, Frontlines: Fuels of War deserves to be revisited. And imagine what could’ve been had Kaos not been hellbent on turning out a wannabe Call of Duty-killer.

Categories: Games