World War II: Frontline Command Review (PC)
WWII: Frontline Command is the latest RTS Tactical Combat Game by BitMap Brothers and Published by Strategy First. The game is part of the sub-genre of RTS game I like to refer to as “stand and deliver” games. These types of games essentially give the player a finite amount of resources, often just combat troops and a mission is about it. They stand in contrast to “Bake, Build and Burn”(B3), RTS titles which normally allow a player to collect resources and try to create an “arm of decision” of their choosing. B3 games tend to be time sensitive in that the longer you take to chop wood, milk cows, bake bread or squeeze out pikemen/archers/hover tanks, the better the chance that the AI or your opponent will come over the hill with a horde of trolls/orcs/postmen/angry mother-in-laws…what have you.
“We’re not here to do the decent thing!!”
WWII: Frontline Command, as a tactical game, is not bad, but then again, it is not great either. On the positive side, missions are varied and can be quite creative. Often, you can change from having to destroy enemy installations to clearing out an area or securing an airfield or bridge another time. Game balance is fairly solid throughout; you are generally given enough forces as long as you use them properly. However, on the downside, vehicles are strictly “gamey.” Do not expect there to be a whole lot of difference between a Sherman or a Tiger except the health bar. Those of you wondering if the Garand gives a significant advantage over the Kar 98 can simply look elsewhere because this game treat units in a very bland,shallow fashion.
“How we suppose to shave in cold water?!”
Of note, this game does have high production value, with no noticeable bugs. The graphics are very nice and a decent camera system allows for interesting views, although I found that one normally has to max zoom out in order to actually fight in the game. Lush farmland (and lots of it) is well portrayed and quaint little villages ready to blow up dot the picturesque landscape. Because the environment is mostly plastic you can blow up everything, if that is your thrill.
Sound is a bit disappointing, actually. I found the background battle sound somewhat repetitive and provided not so much ambience as annoyance.
Overall, the interface, visuals and sound are all decent, if somewhat uninspiring.
Some appealing units do turn up but they are fairly infrequent - flamethrowers and flame tanks, for example. These units will add surprises to gameplay, but I found them conspicuously scarce. You will be fighting many missions over similar-looking terrain using tanks, AT Guns and infantry…over and over again.
The game supports multiplayer via Gamespy Arcade and human opponents will provide an interesting enhancement, but here again the blandness of the units will lead to a simple contest of hitting with the most. There is no morale modeling, with the exception of hero modes which your units randomly pop into, meaning that your troops will stand and die regardless of which direction your opponent comes from.
“Quit screaming…it’s bad for morale!!!”
In general, I was disappointed with WWII: Frontline Command, even from the perspective of a lite tactical game. I genuinely enjoyed the first three or four missions but I found my joy transformed into ashes as the initial thrill faded into boredom. I found too much repetition and “kiddie-pool” depth to the game. The RTS bar has been set very high by recent releases and developers should realize that audience expectations are going to rise with it. Perhaps two or three years ago this would have been a more impressive product, but I found that like low alcohol beer, we don’t love it for its “great taste” alone.