Developer: Glu
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime: Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Frontline Commando 2 represents some of what’s good and bad about free-to-play. It’s an actual game; one with a mobile-friendly design and actual gameplay. However, it will want money to play at a high level, and it is unashamed of it.

FrontlineCommando2-11Thankfully this cover-based shooter from Glu is an actual game, not just an automated simulation of a game as many free-to-play games are wont to do nowadays. While it’s simplified from other cover shooters, players still have to aim and fire, and move to new cover by tapping the arrows on screen when grenades and rockets come in. This simplification works for mobile though, and the controls work pretty well – even the aiming. There is some automation in the squadmates, but this actually works for the player’s advantage: in the heat of battle, I want them taking care of their own stuff without me saying anything. The whole package does a great job of making hectic action fun and manageable, and is consumable in short bursts.

There’s a PVP mode, which isn’t actually live online combat but an asynchronous mode where players take on computer-controlled other players’ layouts and squadmates. It’s a nice diversion from the singleplayer, and it’s cool to know someone just lost at the hands of my excellent skills. The energy mechanic does slow things down, but it also encourages returning regularly, which is how it should work.

FrontlineCommando2-6Frontline Commando 2 is not a game for people who can’t stand consumable IAPs. This game is up front about encouraging spending money on gold, the game’s hard currency, and there’s numerous ways to spend it. Want a better gun? Gold will upgrade it quickly. Want to summon drones and rockets? Those refills will cost gold. They can be earned slowly through occasional mission rewards, but really, they’re meant to make money for Glu.

The game can definitely be seen as “pay-to-win,” and to a certain extent it’s true – for the singleplayer, at least. Spending money for the best weapons and weapon packs will make singleplayer a much easier experience, as enemies get mowed down left and right. Now, the multiplayer makes it so that players who buy the good weapons will trash lesser foes early on. But soon, they’ll get matched up with players of similar strength, so it all works out to a system where it’s more pay-to-play-at-a-high-level than anything. And that’s kind of true of anything: professional athletes use better equipment than weekend warriors, after all. I just hesitate to complain too much about a game making more money off of its most committed players and rewarding them with opportunities as such.

So, the best way to approach Frontline Commando 2 is as a high-priced mobile game; one where money will need to be spent if one is committed to doing well in it. But at worst, it’s possible to have some free fun with it without energy timers for singleplayer.

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