Admittedly, many shooters have revolved around World War II, and the setting may be starting to wear thin on some gamers. Although the mobile platform has yet to really scratch that setting, you probably don’t expect anything outstanding from a game called Frontline Commando: D-Day. I know I didn’t expect a lot from what on the surface is just another mobile, cover-based third-person shooter. But the new entry in the Frontline Commando series storms the beach, armed and ready, and it shot away most of my doubts. And after a few missions, boots first in the explosive campaign I realized this game was far from mediocre.
At its center, Frontline Commando: D-Day doesn’t do anything incredibly attention grabbing with its mechanics. It’s a traditional third-person shooter; you’ll take cover, chuck some grenades, pop your head up to fire off a few rounds, and crouch down again to avoid bullets all too ready to kill you off. Where the game holds its own is in the presentation. The graphics are slick and have their moments of gorgeousness, but the immersion goes far deeper than that. The little mechanics like (selectively) destructible cover, truly dangerous enemies, AI partners that actually help you take down the enemy, and some excellent sound design help you almost feel as though you’re wearing battle gear, caught in an intense firefight. It won’t be providing the same immersion as a top-of-the-line console game, but D-Day works with its mobile constraints and shines through them.
The game varies itself nicely, offering different ways to take a break from full on shooting. A new “running” mechanic, which has you take control of your soldier as he follows a general path to the next firefight, adds a nice touch of polish to the third-person shooter genre. You’ll also get a chance to fight off tanks, hop in an anti-aircraft gun to knock down enemy planes, and jump onto a mounted machine gun for a quick edge on the battlefield. Although these missions and levels do get re-used as you progress, chances are you’ll be able to squeeze a lot of fun out of each stage.
The most glaring flaw in this otherwise great game would have to be the flat-out irritating-to-the-point-of-angering in-app purchase system. There’s a system of gold and “war cash” in place, both of which can be earned, but which are faster acquired with real dough. With gold and cash in your pocket, you can scoop up better weapons, explosives, and even an extra life during combat, all of which give you an extra and completely unfair edge on the battlefield. Some missions flat-out require you to have explosives, so if you have emptied your ammo cache in earlier firefights, you only have two options.
One, go back and try to get unachieved “stars” on previous missions (by doing things like winning in a time limit or getting a certain amount of headshots) in order to scoop up more grenades, or two, shell out cash (pun intended) to buy the explosives. For those wanting to grind away trying to earn the booming battlefield aids, I eventually got stuck on one mission which required me to have a bazooka ready. You can’t just earn bazooka ammo, so I was effectively stuck. Not only is the system obnoxious, using it would upset the game’s balance.
Frontline Commando: D-Day has me torn. On one hand, it’s the most fun cover-based shooter I’ve ever played on my iPod. But on the other hand, it’s also one of the flat-out greediest games I’ve ever gone through. Some games still manage to be solid despite their pickpocket mentality, but D-Day doesn’t. It’s greedy enough to take a bit of fun out of the experience, which is a huge shame. The game is still worth picking up for its free price tag, but make sure you keep your wallet in a secure place whenever you boot up the game.