Past Rants, Raves & Views

Brothers in Arms

Preview

Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front

Publishers: Gameloft

Developers: Gameloft

Format: iPhone, iPod

Available: February

Great game, but do FPS’s really work on the iPhone?

Although the original Brothers in Arms game was an iPhone hit, I personally wasn’t a huge fan. Not that it wasn’t a good game, it was. It had some compelling sections of breathless action, the graphics were solid, and shooting people in the face while on a bus-ride home was always fun. But personally I just don’t think FPS’s or TPS’s work on the iPhone. We’ll come back to that in a minute, but for now, let’s have a run-through of Gameloft’s latest offering- Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front.

Brothers in Arms 2 has been improved in every department, making it far superior (in terms of stats anyway) to the original. Whereas BIA1 had three environments, this new version has five; Pacific, North Africa, Italy, Normandy and Germany. Sadly, Ardennes (home of the mighty pate) has been dropped. BIA1 also had approximately three hours of playtime, while BIA2 has six. Other features such as more levels and more vehicles are also on show. They should have called it Brothers in Arms X2.

Another feature that impresses, and could become the making of BIA2, is the multiplayer. The original didn’t come with this option, so it’s a big deal for BIA2. Now instead of just playing through the game on your own, you can join a group of like-minded souls, and get some WW2-style killing done. There’s no co-op mode, but a deathmatch should still make for some interesting gameplay. Whether it’ll work in practice, with possible connection problems being a worrying vulture hovering above, is yet to be seen. But hopefully it will, and it should make those bus-rides home more enjoyable. And noisy.

During our playtest we were quite impressed with BIA2’s gameplay. It wasn’t mind-blowing, and as usual the visuals were a bit higgledy piggledy, but it was good fun. There were plenty of baddies to shoot, the areas were well laid out and sound-wise the action sounded intense. There were some clever set pieces also, such as a plane crashing right into the battlezone. Little touches like that add real depth to a game, and take it beyond a dumb ‘bang bang’ shooter.

But the main problem we had, and one that I personally still believe is the reason why FPS’s on the iPhone don’t work, is that the controls were extremely fiddly. Layout-wise, they were OK, with the movement cursor at the bottom-left of the screen, and the shoot button on the right. But the basic task of moving around was a real problem. To aim, you had to rub your finger around the screen, and to walk you had to rub the cursor at the bottom. There was an awful lot of inconvenient work involved, and that doesn’t include shooting and selecting weapons, whilst getting shot at.

FPS’s on iPhone’s just don’t work. There’s too much to do, the controls are fiddly and numb, and you’ll just end up running into enemy fire while looking at your shoelaces. Not that Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front isn’t a good game, it’s probably about as good as it gets. But it’s shackled by the awkward control system, which isn’t advanced enough to deal with so many variations. Just leave the FPS’s to the big boys, iPhone, and stick to what you’re good at, like point-and-clicks, racing sims and puzzles.

Scott Tierney