Soldier Front 2: Free to Play? Free to Die Trying

With a template FPS shooter feel, and the numerous micro-transaction limitations, Soldier Front 2 fails to truly stand out.
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I’ll be honest, I went into Aeria Games’ new free-to-play online shooter, Soldier Front 2, with mixed feelings.  I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon this title, let alone my reasons for giving it a whirl. 

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A game that features the dead horse Call of Duty-esque aesthetic, combined with a reliance on strategically placed micro-transactions, tends to always reek of something mediocre.  However, I happened to be in the mood for trying out a free new shooter, and decided to remain objective despite these obvious warning signs.  With dozens of free-to-play online first person shooters – and only one to really get it right (hint: hats) – Soldier Front 2 does its best to try and stand out. 

Getting Started

After choosing your character’s name you are presented with three skins for your soldier.  You are given familiar choices of global spec-ops heroes; America’s Delta-Squad, Russia’s Spetsnaz, and GAFE – Mexico’s special SWAT team created for the ‘86 World Cup in Mexico City.  Soldier Front 2 does offer female choices; however, they come donned in  mini-shorts and a low-cut blouse –instead of, you know, armor or something – which in turn, makes them look like the cheerleaders to their male counterparts. 

You are the given the option of one base assault rifle to start with, after that, it’s go time.  One nice quality about the game is that all new players are given a starter pack.  This pack contains a small arsenal of high-level weapons awarded to you for seven days.  This pack is not only a life-preserver for floundering noobs, but a great way to get a feel of what kinds of weapons you excel at.

Gameplay

When you’re ready to earn your stripes on the battlefield, picking a game to join is a bit overwhelming, and the interface menu isn’t entirely clear at first.  However, there’s a convenient quick-start option that allows you enter any one of their game modes: Capture, Team Deathmatch, AI Team Death, and my personal favorite, Sniper Point Match. 

Team and AI deathmatches are self-explanatory, while Capture offers a fun and tactical approach to the game.  When playing capture on the map Ryokan, two teams are pitted against each other – one in charge of defending what appears to be blueprints, and the other trying to steal them. 

The game, of course, can be won if one side wipes out the other.  However, if the offensive team is able to steal the blueprints and take them back to an assigned extraction point before their team is killed, victory will be achieved.  Not the most groundbreaking game mode by any means, but it still proves to be somewhat fun.

If you’re in the mood for massacring neon colored aliens, Soldier Front 2’s Xanthid mode allows you to team up in groups of 4 for co-op survival type missions. 

Once again, this game just fails to cross the finish line when it comes to game modes.  Many of these co-op missions offer no real challenge, as you can simply just hold down a corner for 20mins –firing away with unlimited ammo at ridiculously weak AI—all while having a healing and power-up station just a few meters away that’s available at any time during the round. It seems all you need for the survival mode is just four players who can aim and hold down the left-click button. 

Design

Graphically, SF2 isn’t the prettiest pumpkin in Aeria’s patch of FPS titles – which is something I can usually overlook, especially if the game is at least somewhat entertaining.  The soundtrack is nothing to shake a stick at, as it quickly grows repetitive and is mainly composed of your standard “honorable war” scores – trumpets, marching drums, and the like.

The level designs offer nothing unique, as they are modeled variations of other, more famous, FPS maps.  Some shine in their own way, but most are lacking.  One map in particular, Dam, always finds a way to gather the action into one clustery spot, leaving you to fight the same exact fight, each and every time.  

One final thing worth mentioning is the lack of voice-chat.  Without that level of communication, no hardcore FPS fan will take this game seriously.  Having to type out tactics and commands to your teammates is not how you get a competitive following for an online shooter. 

Thus, the dastardly microtransction rears its ugly head

What can I say?  Without shelling out some cash, you’re going to get nothing more than boiled down modern FPS guns (M4A1, AK, RPK, etc.).  On top of that, a customization such a red dot scope is going to cost you. 

All of Aeria’s free-to-play games are fueled by AP – another dreaded form of “fake” currency to add to your free-to-play wallet.  AP prices start as low as $2.00 for 200 points and up to $250.00 for 30,000 points (that’s a whole %20 in savings folks!).  Guns you can buy with AP go anywhere between 999-1499 points – therefore, a single gun can cost you between $10-$20 dollars. 

Other outrageous things you can purchase with AP include: the option reset your Win/Loss and K/D/A stats, XP boosts, taped magazines, and various cosmetic features.

What if I don’t want to pay?  Well, unfortunately there is no other way to unlock certain guns that cost AP.  However, another form of currency you earn while playing matches (keep up, there’s still more) called SP can be earned. 

SP can be used to purchase guns you unlock with rank – but here’s the kicker – most of them are only available for seven days, meaning you have to buy that gun every week if you want to keep it.  Be careful though–Soldier Font 2 likes to casually sneak hidden SP charges within matches.  For instance, tapping spacebar when you die – which allows you to re-spawn faster in a deathmatch – comes with a 30 SP fee.  Really, Aeria?

Finally, If you like this game so much that you’d be willing to hand over your wallet Aeria, you can become a VIP. 

Being a VIP, you get your choice of guns, designs, and all other sorts of perks you just can’t get when you play for free.  What does it cost to be a boss?  1299 AP a month, which comes to around $14.  Isn’t that what a WoW subscription runs these days?  Definitely not worth the fee, as this game offers little to no longterm immersion. 

Feeling the gambler’s spirit? You can deposit AP into a psychotic looking slot machine and receive “capsules” which contain a couple of random items.  Here is a video of a guy opening 100 of them – if you watch long enough you’ll see the same 5 items over and over again. 

Final Verdict

As a member of Aeria Games family – a rapidly growing company that doesn’t directly create titles, but licenses them from developers – SF2 is the under-achieving younger sibling, among some solid brothers and sisters (Tribes: Ascend, Fear Online). 

This game is definitely not a mainstay in a hardcore FPS fan’s collection, but rather, a pit-stop.  For a game that offers no unique features and a “nothing is free” micro-transaction mentality, Soldier Front 2 can still be relatively exciting at times.  It is possible to be good without ever spending a dime, but you’ll never top the leaderboards, and for what they’re asking, you’d be better off playing any number of other online shooters. 

If you’re strapped for cash and just what get away from the monotony of your favorite FPS, then give it a try – you probably won’t love it, but it might hold you over until a more anticipated title comes out.

Think I was too harsh? Have any comments? Let me know below!  Also follow me on Twitter (@richardwhelchel) for future gaming news and reviews.   

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Soldier Front 2: Free to Play? Free to Die Trying
With a template FPS shooter feel, and the numerous micro-transaction limitations, Soldier Front 2 fails to truly stand out.

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