Before we begin this review, I must ask a question. Are you a Nintendo employee? Because if you are, and I ask, you know you have to tell me right? It’s like, the law or something. You’re not? Well, that’s good because Front Wars just happens to be among the most shameless Advance Wars knockoffs ever made, and I’d hate for anyone that may be affected by that kind of thing to catch wind of it. Front Wars is a turn based strategy game, where you command troops and vehicles across various battlefields, while capturing buildings, creating more instruments of war, eliminating enemy troops and doing your best to not smirk madly whenever another of many references to Advance Wars appears. Oh sure you’ve probably played a host of strategy games that bear some resemblance to that classic franchise (we’re actually big fans of one of them in particular called UniWar), but this is a whole new level of clone. Front Wars similarities to Advance Wars can be found in everything from troop design, to animations, to menu layout, to color patters, to vehicle functions, to…well let’s just say that we are well beyond the realm of plausible deniability here. But a ripoff of a great game is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as it is a competent one. Unfortunately, that is not the case here, as Front Wars may break its neck making nods to Advance Wars, but fails to carry over many of the aspects from that series that matter most. This is especially true of the game’s personality, or severe lack thereof. Taking place in a highly generic cartoon version of World War II, Front Wars doesn’t offer much in the way of charm or inspired design. Not only does this make for a pretty boring visual experience, but this lack of creative direction also hinders certain vital elements of the game as well. This is especially true of the menu design, which struggles to fluently convey necessary information, such as attack range and unit information. What’s more the level design is lackluster at best with map layouts that allow for very little in terms of actual strategy, and feel far too spread out. Still, those issues barely scratch the surface of the deeper mechanical problems that plague Front Wars. Considering that this style of strategy game was one of the first genres to really exhibit the virtues of the touch screen experience, I was astounded at how clunky Front Wars controls. Simply moving units from place to place and getting them to attack at will, requires a healthy dose of patience and pinpoint tapping precision. This gets even worse when units are grouped together, and selecting the exact one you want proves a 50/50 proposition at best. Unfortunately, Front Wars opponents aren’t much more capable. Enemy AI is abysmal at best. Lacking anything resembling depth or nuance, the enemy, who always outnumbers you, invariably employs suicide maneuvers. They swarm to the nearest unit in their attack radius head-on, no matter what the cost. This results in single health infantry soldiers suicide attacking squadrons of tanks because they have the ability to, or anti aircraft weapons going after individual soldiers, because they are closer than an aircraft that is still within their attack range. Unless this is some sort of social commentary on the futility of war, it’s an element of Front Wars that’s far too easy to exploit for victory. I could go on and mention the various glitches, odd design decisions (like still having to end your turn after you’ve already won) or the extreme deviations in the difficulty curve, but ultimately the biggest problem with Front Wars is that it’s just not that much fun. At its best, Front Wars is little more than functional, and at its worst it feels like a particularly rushed Flash game. Never, though, does it justify its price tag. At first I hoped that Front Wars might be a re-skinned version of Advance Wars for Android. Sadly while the final product is clearly envious of that historically great strategy title, it also has no appreciation for the efforts that made that game worthy of being copied in the first place.
Is it Hardcore?
No, but it should have been.
Competent at best, Front Wars fails to distinguish itself from some considerable competition.