Glu Games’ follow-up to Frontline Commando (Free) and Frontline Commando: D-Day (Free) has finally been released into wide release following the success of Robocop (Free).
Some of the new elements in Frontline Commando 2 (Free) reflect some of those found in Robocop, so it’s perhaps not that surprising that some elements mirror those in Robocop.
It’s good that the stamina meter didn’t carry over, at least not completely, but even without it, Frontline Commando 2 is a mediocre sequel, particularly next to D-Day.
Here’s what I want to say before I get started. There is no doubt that this is a free-to-play game, and its design reflects that in almost every way.
Between battles, ads will pop up occasionally, upgrades have timers, there’s a premium currency that can grease all kinds of wheels for a price, and the difficulty is stacked against you to the point where grinding is almost a necessity.
The experience would be improved if all of these aspects were not present in the game. Even if free-to-play elements bother you, you may want to moonwalk out right now because this game has it all, except for the lack of a stamina meter in the campaign mode.
The gameplay here takes place on a mercenary’s journey to avenge the death of a comrade who left him for dead in its predecessors. There is no freedom of movement in this third-person cover shooter, as in other games in the series.
Your main character isn’t quite so identifiable as part of the American military as he was in the previous two games, and the environments are distinctly urban. This game has one of the most obvious new features: you have to build your own squad of soldiers to help you in battle.
They can often kill enemies by themselves, so they’re not entirely useless. You have to train them up as you go, though, so they are yet another money sink in a game that really doesn’t need it.
Despite being dwarfed by the mission counts in its often-updated predecessors, the campaign spans just over 50 missions in total. For extra money, you must accomplish a specific number of sub-goals while completing each mission.
As you progress through the game, you’ll encounter bosses and get another piece of the story in the form of cut scenes. There are only a few missions in this game, so if you were just going to smash your way through it, it would be a relatively short game.
The escalating power of the opposing forces quickly outpaces your weapons, health, and squad, so that’s not possible.
The first and foremost reward you earn for completing missions is cash. It is possible to upgrade your weapons, train your squad, and buy some new weapons with cash.
For all of these things to happen, you will need to grind out some previously cleared missions to have enough cash to keep moving along in the missions. Aside from gold, items, and new squad members, you’ll also earn rewards for completing sub-goals.
There are a variety of sub-goals in each stage, such as killing a certain number of enemies or destroying enemy transport vehicles, so you won’t just point and shoot mindlessly.
Your earlier squad members will eventually become virtually useless, no matter how much you upgrade them, so getting the new members is essential.
There are some excellent moments in the game, though the death animations are still hilariously bad. A lot of details have been put into the new environments, as well as the enemies and vehicles. The gunfire and explosions sound good, and the music never distracts from the action.
The sound effects and music are typical of the genre, but they are solid enough. A massive list of achievements and four interesting leaderboards are available in Game Center.
As far as presentation is concerned, this game rivals Robocop more than it surpasses, but it is still the best in the series.
It’s fine to use Frontline Commando 2 in a vacuum. As you gain new gear and power up, the game feels like it’s progressing nicely. There is some equipment that is gated behind premium currency, but you can still play around without spending anything and enjoy most of the game’s arsenal.
The campaign mode also does not have energy timers, which I really disliked about Robocop. There’s no denying that this is a grindy game, and you can certainly buy your way to the top if you’re persistent enough, but it doesn’t feel like you have to pay to win. A vacuum is like that.
Frontline Commando 2 isn’t quite the same game as Frontline Commando, and it’s not even half as good as D-Day. Taking it one step further simplifies and streamlines the experience even more, leaving little to the imagination.
Squads and PVP are great, but they can’t make up for the near-total loss of strategies in combat. By all means, take a look at it if you like the series.
After all, it’s free, so you have nothing to lose. My recommendation, however, is to play Frontline Commando: D-Day over this if you haven’t played any of the other games in this series.
If Glu Games intends to continue this series, I hope they will add complexity rather than take it away.