Game Reviews

Frontline Commando

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| Frontline Commando
Frontline Commando
| Frontline Commando

Frontline Commando may look like a big, dumb, console-style third-person-shooter, but fire up the game and you'll quickly realise that at least one of those appearances is deceptive.

Instead of handing you full control of your titular commando, the game actually just lets you tap a button to move between positions of cover, of which there are about four in each level.

So, rather than progressing through an environment, you simply choose a firing position from which to shoot at your targets, moving to fresh cover should you come under fire.

Depending on the game type, a level will end when you've neutralised every enemy, when you've downed a specific target, or when a timer expires.

Shoot to thrill

The shooting itself is precise enough to let you pull off headshots with confidence, with a fairly slow-moving reticule allowing for accurate adjustments over distance. Despite the lack of freedom where movement is concerned, there's still a thrill to be found in the bassy crack of your weapon as you snipe a target from half a klick away.

Graphically, Frontline Commando delivers a strong showing too. Character models and environments look impressive on a mobile screen, although the frequent recycling of levels dulls their visual impact somewhat.

And sustained play quickly exposes the slightness of Frontline Commando's mechanics. It's basically a shooting range, in which you choose your bay and fire at the targets. Neither a selection of game types nor an upgrade system do much to disguise the fact that there's no real AI or player freedom to speak of.

There's no such thing as a free Rocket Launcher

As with so many freemium titles, Frontline Commando's upgrade system is a little broken, with all the best weapons reserved for those who are willing to part with real cash. So if you’re determined not to open your wallet the game can quickly turn into an over-hard slog.

Conversely, big spenders can purchase enough armoured vests and airstrikes to defuse the game's sense of challenge almost completely. As ever, real money taints the overarching structure, and the fact that essential health kits are only available with premium Glu Credits seems particularly stingy.

What’s more, our time with Frontline Commando was plagued with technical problems. We tested the game on multiple devices, and stuttering performance was a near-constant issue. It would seem that whenever a high number of enemies appear the engine struggles to cope, and the touchscreen controls often struggle to keep up too.

Inoffensive weaponry

These performance problems detract from a diverting shooting gallery, and undermine some of Frontline Commando's better features. After all, precise aiming controls aren't much help when the action shudders to a near standstill.

Of course, depending on which Android handset you own, your mileage may vary. When Frontline Commando runs smoothly, it's a graphically impressive, and quite serviceable bit of target practice.

Glu's freemium model grates, but Frontline Commando's central gameplay is too average for the flawed upgrade system to really matter. Accept the game's limitations and there's some fun to be extracted from the package, but those expecting depth or lasting fun are likely to be disappointed.

Frontline Commando

A rather basic shooting gallery if you look past the fancy graphics, Frontline Commando struggles to deliver either depth or stability
James Nouch
James Nouch's news editor 2012-2013