Update 1- "We believe it's only affecting a small percentage of users and we are working to resolve this so everyone has a great experience," Valve's Doug Lombardi tells us. "That said, we'll wait to comment on this until after we have things fixed."
Update 2 - A new Steam beta build purports to fix the problem (thanks for the tip, Evo.)
Two posts in 24 hours about an FPS with an average rating of 74% - why ever would we do such a thing?
Well, because it turns out Frontlines' Steam version is more broken than the hopes and dreams of Mike Huckabee.
The problem was mentioned in passing in one of our comments threads, but it hadn't been fixed at the time. It still hasn't, so players have found a pretty unorthodox way around it themselves. Right now, my PC is invisibly downloading over a gigabyte of extra files for Frontlines, all while Steam innocently claims the game's 100% installed, with even its built-in bandwidth monitor pretending nothing's currently being stuffed down the series of tubes. Tell that to the folder I can see swelling before my very eyes.
The problem seems to be that Steam decides Frontlines is ready before it's downloaded all of the game's 77 movie files. Mine made it to 36 before claiming to be finished, a friend was fobbed off with a mere 20, and there's a whole bunch of similar horror stories on the Steam forums.
The solution? Change the game's language (right-click on it in Steam, hit properties and then Language). Steam itself will still stoically claim the game's 100% ready, but the Movie folder in the Frontlines install directory will silently start filling itself up. The game won't work until that folder's hit 1.82Gb. More detailed instructions here. Others have found that deleting the entire game then re-downloading all 12 fricking gigabytes of the thing solves the problem.
Bugs happen. But having to pretend I'm Spanish, and then guess at whether or not I've finished downloading a gig of crappy FMV by repeatedly clicking refresh on a Windows folder, before I'm able to play the game is a really pathetic bug. Worse, it was first discovered almost a week ago, but there's been no official fix, or even an announcement/apology.
I haven't been this angry at Steam since last year's release of X-COM: Terror From The Deep, and its failure to mention for some weeks that the game flat-out didn't work under Vista (a proviso which does now appear on TFTD's store page). It would have been nice to have known that before I bought the game. Steam is undoubtedly ace, but sometimes I do worry about its customer service. Of course, the blame for this may well lie with THQ or developer Kaos studios, but this does rather seem to be a problem of digital distribution, not the game itself.
Sorry for the rant. GRRR.