HandyGames Front series doesn't have the best record here on Pocket Gamer. The previous Front games, Frozen Front and Pacific Front, got 5 and 4 respectively. There was plenty of criticism of their weak gameplay and pay to win model.
So you'd have thought the developer had plenty to think about for this new entry in the series. Does the name change - there's no Front in Burning Bridges - herald a change of direction?
No. Let's get it out of the way. This is a terrible game which follows an identical, lacklustre path. Indeed, the lack of improvement in the face of even bad app store ratings, makes it all the more hateful.Burning
For those unfamiliar, let's go over just why these games are so awful.
It's a hex-based World War 2 tactics game, with aircraft, infantry, and armour under your command. Strategic doctrine for the era was for these different kinds of forces to offer mutual support. They called in Combined Arms, and most games based on the era try to mimic it in some degree.
Burning Bridges does make the attempt. Certain units types work better against certain other types. There's even more specialised units, like flamethrowers or engineers who can fine and lay mines or build and repair bridges.
Initial play does seem mildly diverting. Your first tasks on both the allied and axis campaigns is to fight over what are presumably the sands of Normandy.
Not that you'd realise this from the feeble historical literacy on display. Most schoolchildren could tell you the allies never fielded an infantry unit called "Stormtroopers". Yet they do in Burning Bridges.
Anyway, there are ships and barrage balloons out in the bay. There are fortifications and earthworks and really massive cannons up on the cliffs. You can land tanks, flame bunkers, and call down airstrikes. What's not to love?
The answer is the profit model. Each scenario sees you starting with a pool of gold, which gets tiny refills when you kill enemy units.
Spending gold replenishes the health of your troops. But you also need to spend it to top up their fuel and ammunition. So without a constant outflow of gold, your soldiers are effectively useless.
Furthermore, it becomes apparent in short order that spending gold is the be-all and end-all of the game.
There's no AI on display. German units will leave their fortifications and run down on to the beach to fight you.
There's not enough terrain or unit differences to make your choices matter. It's just a battle of attrition as to whether you can win each scenario before your gold runs out.
No prizes for guessing that it's almost impossible to win with the allowances you're given. No prizes either, for guessing that you can buy more gold with real-world money.
It's a pathetic sham.
The only redeeming feature is that the pass and play mode is not awful. But the strategy of the game is so shallow, even that's barely worth bothering with.Searing
Of course, there are lots of other pay to win games to choose from. Many offer no more entertainment value that the meagre amount in Burning Bridges.
What makes this one particularly irksome is how poorly the model fits the game and how greedy it is.
Honestly, units on the beaches of Normandy did not benefit from constant reinforcement and resupply. That's difficult from the sea. That's one reason why the invasion was such a potential disaster.
Yet here you can top them up to your heart's content. So long as you keep feeding coins into the virtual slot.
And if pay to win wasn't bad enough, you've got to endure adverts, too. Although you can pay to turn them off. At least that's one-off rather than ongoing.
But save yourself the money and the effort and the time. With a meaningless tactical model and empty echoes of history, there's nothing in Burning Bridges worth spending any of those things.