Frontline: The Longest Day – PC Game Review
Passed Inspection: Easy to learn. Fun. Good graphics and sound. Addictive.
Failed Basic: First scenario is too easy. A few bugs. Game play is not clear at times. Incomplete rules. Typos in the game.
As you would expect from the title, Slitherine’s Frontline: The Longest Day, is a game about the Normandy landings. It is a fast, furious and fun beer-and-pretzels take on those harrowing hours when the free world held its breath on June 6th, 1944.
The manual is only a five-page-long PDF that covers the installation and provides some technical support for the game but doesn’t really give an introduction or the rules of play. Fortunately, the game is very intuitive, and pop-up windows walk the player through the basics of play. Unfortunately, some elements such as logistics or in some cases targeting of certain enemy units are not nearly so intuitive and add to some in-game frustration that could have easily been avoided had the designers explained a few things in advance.
The main menu shows an overview of the Normandy beachheads with each beach area clearly labeled by its code name such as “Juno” and “Omaha.” The graphics are very nice and make it easy to identify terrain and unit types. The player plays the invading Allies while the computer plays the Axis holding forces.
Basics of Play
Players use the mouse and its associated buttons to control all aspects of the game. The scale of each unit is not specified; instead, when you click on a unit, its type is displayed as “Regular Infantry,” “Assault Infantry,” “Engineers,” “Sherman Tanks,” etc. Each unit is rated for its strength versus armor, infantry, “artlilery” (sic), hit points and range.
The movement range of each unit is highlighted on the map, so there is usually no problem in determining how far a unit can move, but sometimes extra hexes beyond the unit’s normal movement range would be highlighted, indicating I could move the unit into them, but I couldn’t; apparently, this is an error in the movement subroutine.
To attack, selecting a unit shows the enemy units that can be attacked and how likely it is for the attack to succeed. Unfortunately, some of the numbers and figures are not explained in the game, so I had to do some guessing.
There are many different types of units, and as objectives are taken the player has the option of purchasing more assets, such as air support, paratroopers, heavier tanks, more troops, etc.
When units are damaged, they lose hit points. When their hit points drop to zero, they are destroyed. Each surviving unit gains experience based upon the battles in which it takes part and, at certain points, the units gain additional skills such as the ability to deal more damage to tanks and infantry.
Each scenario can be played in a few hours; the game autosaves your progress when you exit. Each beachhead is one scenario, and I’m still not sure if failure in one scenario can cause negative effects on other beachheads. The player is rated for “Prestige Points” but nowhere are these points explained.
Bugs on the Beach
Unfortunately, the game does have several other issues that could have been resolved in playtest. The first scenario is far too easy, hardly even challenging. The second scenario starts out being far too difficult, but then shifts to being too easy after the first few objectives are captured.
At times targets are displayed on the map (such as a pesky German artillery position) but cannot be attacked for some reason. I even tried moving troops into the hex to capture what I thought was a German unit wanting to surrender, but found I couldn’t move into the hex or attack the unit in it.
Units do not exude zones of control so you can easily outflank the enemy and they will do the same to you.
The use of supply was not clear. and it took trial and error (and stalled tanks that were out of fuel) before I could figure it out.
German anti-air units didn’t seem to be of much use and never once shot down any of my attacking fighters. Likewise, German artillery looked scary but never once targeted any of my landing craft as they moved slowly towards shore to drop off my troops.
I will say that the Nebelwerfers (German rocket launchers) were deadly against my troops, and I decided to pound them with air attacks whenever I spotted one. Additionally, German landmines took a horrific toll. Use your Engineers to help clear a path—but keep in mind that even when the Engineers have marked minefields for later clearing, your units will not go around an identified minefield. They just plough right through, taking massive damage.
While the game is addictively fun and a great way to spend a few hours, it is very basic and is best viewed as a good beer and pretzels game or a good game for beginner gamers.
Armchair General Rating: 73 %
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!