We’re certainly no strangers to Glu’s action-oriented freemium model and, whether you love it or hate it, Frontline Commando [Free] looks to follow a very similar format. Sporting great visuals, tons of content and a decent control system, this third-person cover shooter certainly has some positives going for it. However, its freemium system, along with a lack of gameplay variety, may be enough for some to simply pass on it.

Like a lot of other war-themed shooters, Frontline Commando places you in the role of a soldier stranded in the middle of a battle zone with the goal of single-handedly taking down all the enemy forces out to get you. You’ll complete this daunting task through various missions with objectives that include Elimination (kill all the baddies), Survival (kill all the baddies until time runs out) and Rescue (kill everyone but the civilians).

Successful missions reward ‘war cash’ that can be used to buy some of the available weapons. An experience system also serves as a barrier to picking up stronger weapons until you earn the requisite amount of experience by playing missions. The story is nonexistent and the general presentation doesn’t offer anything new, but at least it doesn’t detract from the experience.

One area that Frontline Commando excels is its graphics engine. Environments look great on the latest iOS hardware, and the game plays smooth and at a fast framerate. Your character’s model also looks decent, although the enemy ones not so much (they shouldn’t last very long on the screen anyways). It’s not the best looking game we’ve seen on iOS, but Frontline still does a great job showcasing its visuals and graphical effects.

Another good point is its control system, which doesn’t impose unnecessary constraints on the player and actually offers enough precision and smoothness to execute headshots with ease. It may seem like a simple point, but so many shooters botch up the aiming system that it’s worth mentioning when done correctly.

As a cover shooter, Frontline Commando drastically limits what you can actually do in each mission, thus restricting the overall gameplay. As one can imagine, staying under cover is the key to survival as you poke out and take potshots at the opposing forces. Typically, each environment will have several cover points you can run to, with one of them also doubling as the ammo station. Stay under cover in the same place long enough, and the enemy will actually chip away at your cover point, forcing you to either relocate or begin taking damage from errant shots.

It’s important to note that you don’t actually have direct control over your character – your sole control choices are moving from cover point to cover point (with pre-done animations), moving in/out of cover, and aiming your weapon. Folks looking for an actual third person shooter with free movement are not going to find that here. Still, Frontline Commando manages to implement its own gameplay with little hiccup.

Freemium comes into play in Frontline Commando with the standard dual-currency model of progression. In addition to the war bucks mentioned above, there is also gold, which is the premium currency and can be purchased using IAP (and consequently converted to war bucks if needed). Like Gun Bros, there are a wide variety of weapons, armor, and items that can be purchased either with war bucks or with gold.

As is the standard with these types of games, you’ll quickly discover that the best weapons are those that can only be exclusively purchased with gold (and will cost more than you’ll ever earn without IAP to boot). Sure, there are tons of weapons that can purchased with war bucks, but there will always be something better that’ll require some cash. Combine this with the occasional hard mission, and you’ll find yourself wanting to pick up some of those premium weapons just to scrape by. This is certainly not a new issue with the freemium model, but I feel compelled to mention it whenever it’s encountered.

The main problem I have with Frontline Commando is that, when all is said and done, there’s not enough variety to keep me coming back. The different locales you eventually unlock are nice, and the different weapons provide some small changes in strategy, but the core gameplay is still the same and hardly changes.

In addition, the freemium elements make it unnecessarily hard to pick up new weapons (which are your only hope for some variability). If the game progressed using a normal non-freemium pace, then I think Frontline Commando would work a bit better from a gameplay perspective. However, with the grind currently the way it is, the lack of variety really seems to stand out.

In the end, your likelihood of having a great time with Frontline Commando is directly proportional to your opinion of freemium elements in action games. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Frontline; it’s just that games based on free-to-play economies tend to become long and drawn out (if you don’t pay), which tends to introduce the issues I mentioned above.

Regardless, if you don’t mind the grind and are willing to put forth lots of time (or money) to progress, then Frontline Commando is a good game to check out. However, if you have an issue with freemium or you’re looking for a game with a bit more variety, then I’d recommend giving it a pass.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Anonymous

    Freemium = restricted and gimped.

    Hate it. I hope this trend will die soon. I hate the mobile industrys lobbying(lying) about hand consoles becoming obsolete. I believed that and bought iPhone 4S, but at this rate these 700$ devices start to look ridicculous next to 3DS and Vita. If I want to play a proper, real meaty adventure...like Resident Evil Revelations, there simply is no choice on iPhone. Android is even worse. WP7 is worst. I bought a 700$ iPhone(actually more, as 4S is effing expensive in here), to skip hand consoles this time, but now I must also buy a hand console to get games, that are not only worth the money, but also worth of playing. I should have bought Nokia N8 and 3DS for less money, better camera, battery life and vastly better games.

    Start making some proper games. I'm getting rather nervous here.

    • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

      There are a lot of awesome games for iOS but not in the freemium sector.... those things are just made bye greediness!

      But compared to 3DS, i think i made a waaay batter choice with buying an iPad! 

      • Anonymous

        I want iPad so very much and I'm anxiously waiting for the 3rd iPad, but its games are weak compared to 3DS. There are a lot of ambitious software for iPhone and iPad. I'm a musician, and music software is AWESOME on these devices. It makes me wonder, how a comparatively marginal genre such as synthesizers have rapidly evolved into studio quality tools, and at the same time the games have been stuck into mud; most mobile games are nothing but repackaged expensive flash games.

        There are no AWESOME games on iPhone/iPad. There are a lot of fun games, and I'm glad that I have them on my trousers all the time, but they are rather small and barely worth of 0,99$, certainly pitiful compared to the best of 3DS(a 150$ device!!!) games. If you want sink into a big, meaty adventure, like Resident Evil Revelations, there are no games available on iPhone, iPad or Android.

        iPad costs 3 times of the 3DS, but 3DS has 30 times bigger games from all kinds of genres. This free shit is ruining the good start of mobile gaming and I fear its killing mobile games chances to evolve into anything significant quality wise. I worry about the future; do I get any good games, that I bought this phone for?

        I think we should start demanding some really good AAA games in addition to fun minigames. I'm ready to pay for good games, this is 700$ device after all.

      • http://twitter.com/DaKleine Mark

        Have you tryed games like Dead Space or Modern Combat 3 on iOS? I think those are some pretty big and AWESOME games. (of course there are many more, but I think those are two of the biggest this year).

        What genre of games are you interested in? Maybe I/we can help you find what you are looking for?

      • Anonymous

        Yes. Dead Space is good start, but its still kind of Dead Space Lite. And while graphics don't mean too much for me, its hardly visually up there with best hand held games. Also I'd love to have gyro aiming in it, which could make it better for me than even home console version. And the mobile Dead Space 2 seems to be the same game with new maps. I'm not pleased. Why? Because of the price tag; they don't feel like risking too much on ambitious projects. Some one, try to make a PREmium game.

        I'm not too fond of CoDs, so I haven't yet bought the Modern Combat. It has the gyro aiming though, and after trying the NOVA 2 demo, I'm sure GameLoft can make the gyro aiming work like charm. I didn't like the NOVA 2, but its gyro aiming is FANTASTIC; it made me fall in love with its controls. If only the rest of the game was good. It looks like Halo, but AI boring and the battles don't feel dynamic. Modern Combat 3 looks good, but its AI is supposed to be shit, and enemies respawn(? at least I read so ?), so still no AAA. I'm a gameplay man, so I don't have to like a genre to love a game, so I might try the MC3 for the gyro aiming.

        There are no console quality in mobile yet, and there will not be such quality, if we act too pleased with present offerings. Ask more and demand better. For me the iPhone could easily be better "console" for FPS(for example, I like all kinds of games), because of th gyro aiming + screen in hands is like practical virtual reality.

      • http://twitter.com/Rage_boi Vince

        Got to try Dungeon Defenders bro.

      • Anonymous

        The 3rd? ;P Even all of them combined, hardly a Diablo.

      • http://twitter.com/DaKleine Mark

        He said Dungeon Defenders, not Dungeon Hunter.

        Dungeon Hunter is the game from gameloft that went Freetoplay with the third game in the series.
        Dungeon Defenders is the unreal engine using tower defense action RPG thingy (whatever you call that genre) from trendy entertainment.

      • http://twitter.com/aagold3 Aaron G

        Ever try out Mage Gauntlet? Any of the Square Enix ports to iOS? (Not great ports, but still awesome games). Pocket RPG? Dead Space? Dozens of puzzle games like Monsters Ate My Condo, Piyo Blocks 2, Peggle, World of Goo, Gesundheit? Tower Defense like PvZ, Tiny Heroes, Kingdom Rush, Anomaly Warzone Earth ( a great cpu game in its own right) etc.? There's a lot out there that are pretty awesome...

      • Anonymous

        They are small games; fun, yes, and I love to have them in my pocket all the time. My rant was all about having even one AWESOME game, that takes everything out of iPhone, and is not a wave defence game or a game where you cannot move freely etc. A real AAA game, no corners cut.

        I would like to see, say, Mass Effect on iPhone/iPad. It could happen, but even if a touch screen console would strengthen the scifi feel(at least for me), I really don't see it happening. I'm sure, and I'm willing to bet(even more willing to lose that bet), that if Mass Effect comes to mobile market, its another lite, or mobile version that is as straight forward as possible.

        Chaos Rings was my first game I bought for iPhone. It was actually the reason I bought iPhone 4S. It was my main example of finally having real quality and a proper game on mobile market, so I could justify coughing up 600€ for buying it. But it was such a fucking big disappointment! Like everything else in mobile market(out side of old school point&click adventures), it has no adventure in it. Its an exp harvest game. Even its plot is all about EXP harvesting; "You were brought into this random magical palace to kill many monsters, so you could be ready for final battle". It has no overworld or exploration. You go through pretty straightforward dungeons and kill random monsters for a hobby, a hobby which you could turn of from the menu if you choose, which also takes the little sense of danger and adventure away it ever had. Such a big let down. And its sequel, again, seems to be exactly the same game as the first with new straight forward dungeons. I implore you; iPhone does not have any technical restrictions to make, say, next proper, full blown, Final Fantasy happen on iPhone/Pad, and I would prefer to play it on touch screen device. Do you HONESTLY think it would happen in current mobile gaming culture? Ask for it. It could happen. I'm ranting only because it could technically happen, but the audience is too happy to defend their small handfull of lite versions, so the culture won't change. I'm disappointed, because its a 700$ device and while I'm a half full glass -guy, I only see games that have as many cornesrs cut as possible.

  • Anonymous

    F freemium and the suckers who waste money on them.

  • http://twitter.com/__ReJ__ Renaldas Zioma

    Looks like Frontline is powered by Unity.

Frontline Commando Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3