Frontline Commando: D-Day (iOS/Android) review

Frontline Commando: D-Day is a new iOS and Android game from Glu Mobile. At the time of writing, it doesn’t appear to have hit the two platforms’ respective app marketplaces as yet, but it is set to do so later this week, and will be a free download with additional in-app purchases, much like Glu’s other titles.

IMG_2327

Frontline Commando: D-Day is the follow-up to Glu’s previous title Frontline Commando, but exchanges the earlier title’s modern-day setting for the Normandy landings in World War II. Several years back, the first- and third-person shooter market was saturated with World War II-themed shooters, but the trends have shifted back in favor of modern-day conflicts these days. Glu’s return to the D-Day landings helps distinguish the new game from its numerous contemporaries.

Gameplay in Frontline Commando is more of a gallery shooter than a true third-person shooter. Players automatically move from cover point to cover point in each level, and must then eliminate all enemies in the area in order to progress to the next hotspot. Once all the hotspots have been cleared, the level is complete and the player receives rewards. Three objectives in each level provide the player with specific challenges to accomplish such as beating a particular completion time or performing a certain number of headshots, and successfully achieving these rewards the player with stars, which are used to unlock additional rewards and new campaigns at regular intervals.

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 10.36.16 AM

The game is controlled through a series of virtual buttons combined with a dragging motion to aim. On-screen buttons allow the player to move between cover points in a hotspot and to pop out or hide in cover. The fire button is in the lower-right corner of the screen and easily accessible, while a “scope” button in the lower-left allows for zooming in. Other buttons appear as required, such as buttons to man stationary guns or switch to bazookas to take down armored targets. The interface is intuitive to use and introduced to the player well in the tutorial mission, though aiming with the touchscreen is a little clumsy compared to more traditional mouse-and-keyboard or joypad controls on computer and console. The fact that the player does not have complete control of their character’s movement is entirely deliberate to ensure that the controls are not clumsier than they already are — restricting the player to predefined cover spots means they only have to concentrate on aiming and firing.

As the player progresses through the game, they earn soft currency which can be spent in the in-game shop to unlock additional more effective equipment. Considerably more powerful equipment may be unlocked using hard currency (acquired via in-app purchase) and in many cases, these are so powerful that they make the game incredibly easy. This sort of “pay to win” mechanic is not entirely uncommon in Glu’s games, and is a common criticism — whether or not the player takes advantage of it is entirely a matter of self-control, of course, though there are situations throughout the game where upgrading equipment becomes necessary in order to progress.

IMG_2330

Social features for the game are limited to Game Center compatibility. The game features two leaderboards — one for the number of stars attained, the other for the amount of experience points earned — and 37 achievements to acquire. Neither of the leaderboards are particularly skill-based — they are both simply a measure of how long the player has been playing the game and their progression through it. It would have perhaps been nice to see dedicated leaderboards for specific challenges or some sort of specific “survival” mode intended for leaderboard-based competition — as it stands, the leaderboards are largely meaningless.

On the whole, Frontline Commando: D-Day is a pretty good game and is certainly one of the more graphically-impressive titles on iOS. Its rather simplistic, repetitive gameplay and “pay to win” mechanics may cause it to struggle somewhat in the long term, but it will certainly keep those looking for a new shooter fix busy for a few hours at least.

Play

A good quality shooter marred only by repetitive gameplay and overpowered premium items.