Frontlines: Fuel of War--32 players, Dedicated Servers, BF style gameplay

Discussion in 'Console Gaming' started by Acert93, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    I didn't find anything here at B3D for Frontlines: Fuel of War, so I thought I would do my own little preview. I will be getting into the beta soon (woot!) so I can probably share more in a month or so. I am a huge Desert Combat fan, so I am quite excited for this title. DC is to Battlefield 2 as Bioshock is to System Shock 2 in many ways. So Battlefield fans should keep their eyes on this (especially since Kaos was the R&D team for BF2).

    This game is totally flying under the radar. I know there isn't a lot of media out for the game and Kaos is a new studio. Battlefield is one of my top 3 all time favorite games and loved Desert Combat and played it, literally, for years. So seeing Kaos bring out a new game is exciting to me. I don't know if FFOW will live up to the pedigree, but I see some reasons to be interested, especially for console gamers as it offers a lot in the console space that, frankly, console gamers haven't seen yet. Here are some reasons why console gamers, on top of BF fans, should give this game a serious look when it comes out in early 2008.

    #1. Kaos may be the new kid on the block, but their short resume is impressive.

    Kaos, formerly known as Trauma Studios, made one of the most popular mods ever--Desert Combat. Very few mods are played more than their counterparts. You have CounterStrike / Half-Life, of course, but the Desert Combat / Battlefield 1942 combi is impressive. HL and BF1942 both sold milions (8M for HL, and about 3M for BF1942). EA estimated that 30% of BF1942 sales were the direct result of people wanting to play Desert Combat (so nearly 1M sales for a mod!) and at one point there were more DC servers active online than BF1942 vanilla clients. Desert Combat won a lot of "mod of the year" awards and was an absolutely amazing total conversion. Kaos did a lot of work on Battlefield 2. BF2 had excellent sales and is routinely in the top 5 played PC games online--2 years after release. Kaos did a lot of work on the commander mode and squad systems in BF2 (some of its best elements).

    Kaos may be green, but they have shown they can do some quality work. If I hadn't played DC I would be totally overlooking this game too (yet another shooter! grrr) -- but DC totally drew me in for like 3 years. It was a blast, which gives me some hope for DC2 errr FFOW.

    [​IMG]

    #2. Gameplay: Team-Class-Objective based.

    A lot of online shooters appeal only to the top 10% of gamers. You either are good... or are connon fodder. The "Conquest" style gameplay in Day of Defeat, Battlefield, and FFOW gets away from that by implimenting a couple twists.

    First, the game is team based. There is no death match. The game design is built completely around teamplay. Two teams, each with 16+ players, working together. And you need to work together because...

    Second, the game is objective based. The goal isn't to kill everyone else. That can help you achieve your goal, but if you focus on killing you will lose. It is vital to coordinate squads and which objectives you take. Every time you succeed at taking a point the "battle front" or "frontline" progresses. There are typically 3 or 4 objectives that you can take in whatever order you wish. It is important to work together and to compliment your team, so they...

    Third, the game is class based. The reality is that only a small percentage of gamers can be uber shooter masters. What about the other 80-90% of gamers? Being able to play a significant role to aid your team is rewarding. Sure, you may not be the best run&gunner, but teams still need medics and engineers. A good support role can help your squad stay healthy, longer, and do more damage. Class based team shooters create a dynamic where all sorts of gamers can be vital cogs to winning. FFOW has six classes (Assault, Heavy Assault, Sniper, Anti-Vehicle, Special Operations, and Close Combat). Each class has at least 15 weapon load outs. A breakdown of the classes:

    For the unitiated, Conquest (aka Territories) is where you have bases and points to "capture". You do this by going to a point/base, killing the enemies, and being there long enough to "turn" it to your side. Now you must defend this territory and capture more. If you capture enough territories/control points, the other teams tickets bleed down. Once they are out the game is over and you win. So the fighting is over points on the map, which requires teamwork and ingenuity to win. Being sneaky is as effective as going in guns blazing. And being a lonewolf has a palce -- like being a sniper literally spotting arty and such for the rest of the team -- the reality is those who succeed are those working as a squad. Voice chat... made useful!

    The industry really has a glut of UT/Q3A clones. DM and TDM, weapons spawn in open fields, and only the best twitchy gamers excell. While there will always be room for these games, a Team-Class-Objective based style really opens the door to deeper, more varied gameplay. DoD and BF really excel here and FFOW looks to carry on the tradition. And seeing as Battlefield 3 is still a ways off, it looks like slim pickings for this sort of game. The most similar efforts are the excellent looking TF2 and CoD4.

    [​IMG]

    #3. Gameplay: Vehicles.

    FFOW sets itself apart from games like TF2 and CoD4 in a number of ways. The most relevant way it separates itself is vehicles. If Battlefield was the mother of all vehicle-based FPS (with an assist from Battlezone, another favorite game of mine), then Desert Combat was the 'Big Daddy'. Where BF1942 had WWII tanks and planes, DC had A-10s, F-15s, Apaches, M1 Tanks, and AC-130s. FFOW carries on the tradition -- 21st century tanks, jeeps, helicopters, APCs, etc. The new twist is drones and drone countermeasures.

    The most exciting element about the vehicles for me is they are receptive to fan feedback (they are promising a lot of community support). For example, helicopters. You have two approaches to helos: the "CPU-assist" style like Battlefield: Vietnam, EoD, and to a degree BF:2. And then you have Desert Combat: turn on a dime, loops, barrel rolls, and amazing control. DC helos were harder to control, but for those with skill could make them dance. So Kaos has 2 flight models: A beginner model where flying and hovering are pretty straight forward. And for the flyboys they are putting in a model like DC where you have a ton of control over the helo to make it the perfect killing machine.

    It is the small touches like this that have me interested in the game. Another nice touch is vehicles have different armor depth across the chasis and react differently to different ammo types. It is surprising how some games still don't do this. While this may be the first full release from Kaos, these sort of finely tuned elements of the game are what you expect from a company making their 3rd game in a series. Right now the game has over 60 weapons and vehicles.

    #4. Gameplay: Drones.

    One of the twists to FFOW is there are a number of tech trees, one being drone tech. Pick the "drone technician" tech tree, and as you progress in your current match you will be granted access to more and more technology. Drones include mini predator drones, anti-infantry minigun tanks, and RC style cars. Drones can give you a view of more of the map or help you root out embedded enemies. Of course a drone tech tree wouldn't be complete if the other side didn't have countermeasures. A nice EMP grenade goes a long way to neutralizing a soilder who invested in drone technology (more on roles, like countermeasures, later).

    As a drone technician you can deploy equipment and operate it in the heat of battle. In many cases you can take cover and allow the drone to do your dirty work. On the Western Coalition side you start off with a Predator drone. These can identify enemies (which show up on your teammate radar) and can explode inside bunkers. The Level 2 drone gives you access to chain gun on wheels, and Level 3 a motorized vehicle with a quad mortar launcher.

    On the Red Star side you start off with a mini RC helicopter and is similar to the Predator drone, but a lot noisier. Level 2 is an RC car loaded with C4. The RC car is tough and fast -- taking big drops without getting damaged and able to catch up to slower vehicles before... BOOM! Level 3 gives access to another RC chopper, this time with a small missile.

    Drones seem like an odd addition to the game. But those who have played BF know that sometimes getting a vehicle is difficult and it is always nice to have a little helper when trying to hold down a base. Having some extra "fun" tools to root out guys from a bunker is a nice addition. And drones can be killed by being shot at. But even more devastating is the countermeasures role. At level 1 they get an EMP grenade. Level 2 they can fire EMP rounds, and at Level 3 they can deploy a small EMP broadcaster that takes down all drone tech in an area.


    [​IMG]

    #5 Gameplay: Avoiding consolitis.

    Sorry console gamers, but your console version of games are often newbified. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat and Far Cry Instinct... yuck! Kaos is trying to avoid this. Sure, it will turn off some gamers, but it should appeal to gamers who want a deeper, more challenging experience on the consoles. An example is how they are treating vehicles (as mentioned before):

    #6 Multiplatform.

    PS3 and 360 owners will both get to play this game, as well as PC gamers. It also uses UE3. So everyone can enjoy this game without trashing it for being exclusive. And the game isn't getting dumbed down on either console.

    #7 Dedicated Servers.

    Very few console games (and even fewer Xbox 360 games) use dedicated servers. But the few that do, like R:FoM, really do distinguish themselves. Dedicated servers get rid of that nasty host advantage, clean up latencies, and importantly...

    #8 32+ Players.

    Yep, this isn't your kiddies online console FPS. FFOW is bringing large online environments packed with players to the console space. While 16 players works for a lot of games, when you are looking at huge maps with team oriented gameplay simulating a war environment, the more can be better. There is something special about a Desert Combat & Battlefield match on a larger server--and now Xbox 360 and PS3 gamers can get a taste of what PC gamers have been raving about for years.

    Sure, more isn't always better. But more can be great. FFOW has 3 map sized (small, medium, large) and a variety of dynamics that change what vehicles are present and how you can use you drones. Smaller maps are about 6 blocks wide and more infantry oriented with larger maps are 4km*4km and have more vehicles.

    #9 Ingame advancements / tech tree unlock.

    Upgrades and unlocks are cool. Those that break the game and give longtime gamers a bigger advantage and "more fun" are not. BF2 dropped the ball here completely. CoD4 is trying to remedy this issue by allowing players to upgrade quickly.

    FFOW is going with ingame, round by round, advancement. In addition to the 6 classes, each player level up up to 3 times per match. After the match your role XP is reset. The trees are ground support, air support, done technician, and counter measures. You earn upgrades by how well you use your role's tools, killing, and how well your team is doing at holding points. I mentioned the drone tech mentioned before, another example is the ground support role. You start with a torch to repair vehicles. Level 2 allows you to build mortars on tripods. Level 3 gives you a tripod mounted rail gun. That is how the Western Coalitions tech tree advances; for the Red Star team their ground support goes from torch, to centry gun with 180 degree turret, and level 3 gatling gun. IGN has a nice breakdown of the various roles.

    FFOW opens the door to a lot of variety in class and user role. And FFOW uses upgrades on a per mission basis, thus everyone starts every match on level ground. It also means an investment in an XP tree that you don't like isn't lost forever. You don't like being a drone tech? Then be countermeasures next time. Even better, you can adapt your choices to your team's current needs.

    A rundown of the combat roles:

    #10. Singleplayer.

    Typically the focus on BF and DoD has been MP. The BF singleplayer modes have been, to be kind, only servicable for learning the MP element. Sure they were fun for coop (humans vs. CPU; also humans/AI vs. humans/AI) but it wasn't cohesive and was tacked on.

    FFOW has a full featured SP campaign that was developed from the get go and was the focus of early development. There are 10 singleplayer missions that, according to IGN, are very large and well over 1 hour in length. FFOW SP gameplay isn't linear, allowing you to tackle objectives in the order you like. As you take objectives (capture, kill, or destroy) your territory grows which allows more room for your to get repairs and health. Also, the more territory means access to new weapons, pickups, and vehicles.

    SP, to me, is a perk. It is all about MP for me. But having a nice, 10+ hour SP campaign with a cool story is a nice perk. This is their storyboard trailer which I thought was pretty cool.



    Some more story elements and the concept for drone tech:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6Fo9PZqaL0&mode=related&search=
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c28AduI09cQ&mode=related&search=

    #11. Intelligent VoIP.

    Xbox Live chat sucks (die kidz die!)... ok, now that I got that out of my system, FFOW is doing squads (ala BF2) but has also introduced a smart voice chat system. If you hop into a common space, e.g. a tank with other players, you immediately can talk to your teammates. While a small feature, making voice chat more intuitive is a big aid to a team based game.

    #12. SIXAXIS suppport.

    PS3 owners are getting a nice little perk in the form of SIXAXIS support. Players can snipe, melee, throw grenades, as well as control drones, aircraft, and vehicles through using the SIXAXIS motion technology.

    --

    FFOW is taking a proven concept and building on it. It won't be for everyone, but for BF fans, or fans of team based multiplayer, it should have some appeal. Especially for gamers tired of games with 8-16 players on Peer-to-Peer servers.

    To say the least, FFOW isn't, "Just another shooter". The recent preview from TeamXbox was also really encouraging.

    You can find all the above information, and more, through the following previews:

    Previews:
    1Up: http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3161039
    IGN: http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/769/769391p1.html
    TeamXbox: http://previews.teamxbox.com/xbox-360/1747/Frontlines-Fuel-of-War/p1/
    1Up: http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?pager.offset=0&cId=3157704

    Notably the PC Gamer interview talks a lot about Single Player, the general design concepts, and the importance of team based gameplay and "open, non-linear" style of play.



    Lets hope Frontlines: Fuel of War lives up to the preview information and is a quality evolution of the DoD/BF genre of MP shooters.
     
  2. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    Well you've said it all! Should be good. :) And Warhawk is nicely paving the way for the PS3 audience to jump into this next. ;)
     
  3. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    Well, there is more! :lol: There are a couple things I want to try before I say much about them. e.g. the "Frontline". The game seems to work as a series of sandboxes. You take the 3 or so control points, and the frontline advances to the next few points of contention. It sounds very interesting, but knowing how it is implimented is important. If it is dynamic, cool. If it is how the maps rotate, cool but maybe a little less dynamic.

    Btw, there are some videos on their website. The videos about Non Linear gameplay and Front Lines mechanics are interesting.

    Too bad PC, PS3, and 360 owners couldn't all play together. Getting to own the console newbs errr canon fodder errr opponents with my sidewinder would be too much fun :p
     
  4. NRP

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    Cool. Bring it on. As long as it's more like the PC version of BF2. The console versions of BF2 were rubbish in my opinion.

    By the way Josh, if you talk that much during battle you're going to get smoked. :)
     
  5. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    I drone my enemies to sleep (or insanity) with the constant hum of annoyance :wink:
     
  6. KaosMitch

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    Wow, now I don't have to give people links to anywhere else but here if they want more info on our game! :runaway:
     
  7. Cheezdoodles

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    Why should we get this game, instead of say.... The new battlefield game?
     
  8. Barrabas

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    Yeah great work Joshua!!!

    KaosMitch can you please tell us when you expect this to be released in Europe? I am really looking forward to this game
     
  9. nintenho

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    what is the beta for and can you still get in?
     
  10. KaosMitch

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    European release will be early January.

    We are in internal beta right now but will be announcing other beta/demo plans VERY soon.

    "Why should we get this game, instead of say.... The new battlefield game?"

    Well, first off that is a very different game from what I've seen of it but I could better address your question if you tell me what you are looking for in a shooter...

    THANKS!
     
  11. Cheezdoodles

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    Thanks for taking your time to answer me (kudos in my book):wink2:

    What i really like is true realistic shooters, but those are hard to come by, aspecially on consoles.

    My favorite games in this genre is Operation Flashpoint, original R6 games (R6:RS was very good), ArmA.

    GR:AW multiplayer is quite good if you turn off drones aswell (very good for being a console game), AA was good on pc aswell.

    Since its a very niche genre (true realism anyway, not stuff like GR:AW or the butchered arcade R6 we get nowadays), i'm kinda forced to play the semi-realistic games aswell.

    BF2 offered semi-realism and huge large scale battles, and player progression (another thing that i like), the perfect game in a lot of ways for me.

    I haven't really looked into the new BF game, but the destruction looks cool from a gameplay aspect, my only hope is that it will be BF2 PC in terms of realism and not BF2:MC (console versions) which was a disgrace.

    I guess my main questions\the main things i care about would be this:

    What are your counter spawn camping methods? I don't mind camping (part of the game), but with some games, aspecially GR:AW 1 and BF2:MC, what it really ended up with was one team locking down the others spawn points (i dont mind them camping outside paths close to the spawn point, but running into them and shooting people as they respawn is lame) and with BF2:MC this involved 2 attack choppers killing everything instantly on respawn. Which kinda ruins the game.


    I don't like to use choppers, planes but i like big battlefields, i like Special forces (CQC) and sniping , in BF2(PC) i felt i could turn the tide of a match, even by just being CQC guy, as in, i didn't have to be the guy in the attack chopper\tank to get good scores.

    Will i be able to make a "difference" in a match without using vechicles?

    Is this going to be atleast semi-realistic? And not "everybody-choses-RPG's-class-for-easy-kills"?
     
  12. betan

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    Welcome to B3D.

    Any chance of cross-platform multiplayer (specifically PC vs PS3) and kb/mouse support?

    Normally I don't care about either but in case I get the PS3 version, the bigger the online community the better. I have a feeling PC community may be more active.
     
  13. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    Hopefully soon I can give you a clearer answer to that question Ostepop.

    Without being too criptic, let me put it this way: FFOW appears to add a couple twists to the Battlefield franchise that shore up some core inadequacies, and does so in ways that are fun and encourage more "Battlefield Moments".

    I think FFOW is going to appeal to Battlefield fans (and MP gamers in general) looking for a true Battlefield sequal -- evolved gameplay mechanics ("frontlines"), a fixed unlock system, 64 player infantry/vehicle battles, and tighter squad/teamwork play.

    Kaos is hard at work on the title... hopefully I will have more to say officially in the future ;)
     
  14. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    I can actually answer this question because the answer is in the game title and plastered all throughout the previews :p

    The game is called Frontlines because of the core "frontlines mode" mechanics. Frontlines is an attempt to evolve the core dynamic of Conquest and Push maps modes:

    * Conquest: A number of capture points (typically 3-11) and you can capture any flag in any order. Pro: Open design and huge battlefields. Con: Spawn camping, flag hopping, a lot of travel to get to the battle, large servers can still feel sparse because the action is all over.

    * 'Push': (Onslaught, etc) Objectives/capture points need to be accomplished in a sequence. A, then B, then C, then D, then... Pro: Fighting is tightly focused. Con: Sometimes insane choke points which can be spam fests, maps aren't as big and too many players would destroy the model.

    So how to you take the core "Pros" of both modes and diminish the negatives?

    This is what "Frontlines" attempts to resolve. The battlefield is designed with the concept of a virtual "battlefield frontlines". Assuming a map has 12 spawn points, only a few (e.g. 1-4) will be capturable at any one time. If your team captures those points the "frontline" progresses. You now are fighting for capture points further down the map and the enemy has to fall back. By gaining capture points you gain more resources and spawn points.

    In theory, Frontlines solves a couple big Conquest issues. Spawn camping? As the game is very territories based, if the enemy team decides to camp your back spawn points... well, they are going to lose! The fontlines may be a 1km away and while they are camping a) unpopulated and b) uncapturable bases, your team just took the frontlines and is pushing forward. And while the maps will be big, the battlefront is more distinct and disallows the flag-hopping technique.

    As a longtime BF gamer, what I gather at this point is that Frontlines directly addresses a number of issues intrinsic to the Conquest/Push modes, and by association some of the frustrations (flag hoping, base camping, sparse action, long travel time, etc). How effectively it resolves those issues, and what new ones crop up time will only tell.

    I don't think you need to worry about FFOW turning into BF2MC. From what I have read some maps will have Helos and Jets, but not all.

    I am sure there will be infantry-centric maps, as most of the previews note. As Frank Delise has noted, players should fear vehicles. But remember, in FFOW you get a kit class and a combat role. A role is something like a Drone Technician, Air Strike, Ground Strike, or Countermeasures (EMP).

    Hitting a vehicle with an EMP blast or calling in an air strike on a vehicle defending a flag, I would bet, would be a pretty effective way to neutralize an enemy. Hey, or send up one of those cool RC Helicopter Drones, spot the enemy tank, and let your team help take out the enemy for you and then move in for the flag cap. These talents go both ways, so working with a team to make the best use of your resources (kits, classes, and vehicles) will, if anything like DC, will be your best bet--just like BF2 and BF1942.

    This genre, afterall, is very large scale fighting. Those who work as teams run the best chance of success.

    As a long time DC player, I would venture a guess that each class is distinct, with advantages and disadvantages, with a kit balance that is thematic to their realistic properties. e.g. in DC an AK had more stopping power and more kick than an M16. Each gun handled differently, based on basic thematic traits, but were balanced for the gameplay world.

    My guess would be that FFOW will follow that trend.

    But what do I know... maybe I will know more, officially, soon :lol: Keep your eyes peeled.
     
  15. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    I don't know the answers here, but PS3 owners may be interested to know that the PS3 version will be supporting SIXAXIS gestures for a number of things like melee as well as control drones and aircraft with it (according to the IGN preview). Based on Warhawk, this could be a nice perk.
     
  16. KaosMitch

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    At the moment, doesn't look like there will be cross-platform play but we're not even in beta yet so nothing is definite. :)

    Counter-spawn camping is something we are discussing/testing internally right now. You are able to choose your spawn points though... unless the enemy captures them all of course! At which point the round ends anyway.

    We'll have a mix of maps, some huge battlefields with a wide range of vehicles, some smaller with more limited options. Even if you choose not to use one, there are a number of ways you can counter vehicles even if on foot.

    "Is this going to be atleast semi-realistic? And not "everybody-choses-RPG's-class-for-easy-kills"?"

    I'll answer yes, but you will be able to see for yourself in the very near future... ;)

    Thanks for the kudos!
     
  17. JNewt427

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    Looks like my prayers have been answered, this game needs to be hyped ALOT MORE. EXCELLENT WORK!!!!

    I am a Diehard SOCOM fanatic since SOCOM 1, But over the years with SOCOM 2 really taking the cake as far a popularity goes, The SOCOM franchise is at a loss as far as I am concerned ever since there last 2 releases SOCOM 3 and Combined assault. The games legitimacy has tanked due to cheaters and glitchers, and SONY/ZIPPER have faulted on releasing any updates or patches so allot of fans have left. It's a pathetic scene to say the least.

    I simply Can't Wait:grin:
     
  18. KaosMitch

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    Closed beta on Fileplanet has started! Wooot!
     
  19. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    New video at: http://www.eurogamer.net/tv_video.php?playlist_id=6214&s=l

    I like what I see of their implimention of vehicle countermeasures. With the cool ground roles, having the 2nd driver assist w/ countermeasures is a good counterbalance (something I was concerned about: ground vehicles being easy targets). The free flight mode and "stealth" for helos should give them a fighting chance. Seeing how UT3 performed on the PC, I have high hopes this will degrade nicely to older hardware too.
     
  20. NRP

    NRP
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    Wow! I'm really getting interested in this game. If Kaos does it right (by that I mean very similar to BF2/BF2SF on the PC), then I have no doubt this game will be a success.

    Also, Eurogamer says there will be a demo for this game on Live sometime in December.
     
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