It’s time to win a war.
Frontline Commando: D-Day is the latest 3D freemium action game from Glu Mobile, the makers of a number of hugely successful games that fit that same description, like Gun Bros. and Blood & Glory. D-Day is also a spiritual successor to 2011′s Frontline Commando, which featured a much more modern setting and storyline than this World War II title. But in combining elements of traditional console games, with the fluidity and accessible nature of the mobile platform, Frontline Commando: D-Day is everything a handheld shooter should be.
As you might expect, D-Day takes place in the throes of World War II, and the historical background proves to be the perfect setting for the series’ slick third-person shooting gameplay. Gludoes an excellent job of capturing the timeframe, with weapon, character, and location designs that fit the period, and nifty WWII trivia facts in between mission loading screens. The presentation begins with some gritty black and white footage of the actual war, before launching into the smooth graphics and flawless animations that we’ve come to expect from a Glu game.
The game spans a massive 5 campaigns, with 145 different missions spread between them. The campaigns include Juno, Sword, Gold, Omaha, and Utah, although the differences between them are pretty slight. While the graphics are extremely impressive for a mobile shooter, some of the environments do start to feel a little redundant before long, and in some cases, you’ll find yourself going through the same exact path on several different occasions. But the beach levels are absolutely stunning, with barbed-wire barracks jutting out from the sand, and gorgeous in-game lighting that shines over the crashing waves on the shoreline.
D-Day has an interesting progression that lets you experience the various war campaigns concurrently. After reaching the end of the first Utah campaign, I hit a wall in the final mission, where the enemies started wearing these indestructible helmets, and my bullets were about as effective as a toy BB gun. As I got ready to write the game off as incorporating a huge difficulty spike that all but forced you to pay up to continue, I realized my progress in the Utah campaign had quietly unlocked the Sword campaign, which let me jump back and forth between the two and take on missions where my weapon still worked as a perfectly fine M1 Carbine. Each mission includes three bonus objectives for you to complete, from scoring headshots to finishing the mission in a certain time, and earning stars will upgrade your solider and unlock other awards.
And I haven’t even mentioned the best part about Frontline Commando: D-Day yet: the gameplay. The touchscreen controls in D-Day are extremely spot-on, and it’s wonderfully satisfying picking off soldiers with headshots. In certain cases, as you hide behind cover, you’ll need to roll to your left or your right, so you can get a better angle on enemies that might be hiding outside your immediate peripheral vision. This adds a deeper dynamic to the basic shooting gameplay, and it forces you to stay on your toes and cover all your bases.
There’s even a slight endless runner aspect thrown into the mix as well. I was skeptical about this at first, but the mechanic actually works extremely well in this context. In between waves of soldiers, you will need to run to the next piece of cover, and dodging obstacles left and right so you can keep up that gold star finishing time. And the first time I had to weave in and out of a dangerous minefield, I was absolutely sold.
While the freemium model of D-Day doesn’t exactly prevent you from progressing in the game, it does put a strict limit on the weapons you can use, and makes it very difficult to earn 3 stars in most of the later levels. Just to put this into perspective: I’ve been playing the game for a few hours now and only managed to rack up a whopping total of 24 Gold. The average rifle costs 120 Gold in the game store, and a measly 2 bazooka shots will set you back 10 Gold. Luckily, you’ll still be able to take down those tanks with grenades, which are a lot easier to come by.
I don’t know all that much about World War II, but after playing Frontline Commando: D-Day for a few days, I feel like I was right there on the frontlines of Normandy myself. The game is perfect for those looking for a more hardcore experience on a handheld device, without alienating the more casual mobile audiences either. With a shining presentation, addictive shooting gameplay, and a whole battalion’s worth of missions to complete, it’s going to be D-Day on your mobile device for a long time to come!