World War II has been a favorite subject of game developers for many years, and that trend continues with 1941 Frozen Front for the iPad. Frozen Front is a turn-based strategy game which allows you to command an army of troops and vehicles in a number of different skirmishes in snowy eastern Europe. But while the action is intense and the game's production values are top notch, Frozen Front's "free" price tag ends up being very misleading.
Before we get into Frozen Front's wallet-draining tricks, let's talk about the game itself. When you play the game for the first time you are treated to a brief but informative tutorial mission that lays the groundwork for your future battles. Each battlefield is split into blocks that you use to navigate and position yourself. Moving your tanks, foot soldiers, and planes is a simple as tapping the block you want them to move to. Attacking the enemy is similarly easy, and you don't need to be a military strategist to win in Frozen Front.
The game's two-dimensional art style serves the iPad's screen well, and the snowy landscapes and high-resolution units look great on a Retina display. Frozen Front's music and sound effects are also very well done, giving you the feeling that you're truly in the midst of an epic battle for world supremacy, even if you're only wiping out a few tanks and troops at a time.
In your average battle you are given a set number of units to start, a supply depot to create more units, and a foggy landscape that you must explore in order to find and defeat the enemy. As you attack each enemy unit you encounter you oftentimes take damage in return. If too much damage is taken the unit is destroyed, but you can repair by using resources from your supply depot - this, however, is finite.
When you exhaust your in-game repair supplies you have the option of using your gold, which you collect from fallen enemies or pay for via in-app purchases, and this is where the old pay-to-win structure becomes apparent. You'll quickly realize that the game is designed in such a way that you will almost always need to pony up some real life cash in order to have enough gold to complete your missions. Gold is relatively inexpensive, and you can get a whole heap of it for $10 or so, but if you plan on playing the multiplayer mode you're probably going to burn through that amount rather rapidly.
What it comes down to is 1941 Frozen Front is a truly top-notch strategy game for the iPad, but it would probably have been better served as a $4.99 upfront purchase that allows a sustainable in-game economy rather than offering itself up for free but then demanding cash to proceed later on. Either way, it's worth a look if you're a strategy gamer, if only to shoot some cannons for a few minutes.