Brothers In Arms 2: Global Front (iPad version)
Developed by GameLoft and Gearbox Software
Published by GameLoft
Release Date: 4/28/10
Apple Rating: 12+ for language and violence
Download Size: 263 MB
Buy: Brothers In Arms 2
Michael Moore once said, "I guess you could say it's easy to be number one, when you have no competition." Since iPad games have been trickling onto the App Store rather slowly, that's one "advantage" Brothers In Arms 2: Global Front definitely has. Still, that certainly isn't the only thing BIA2 has going for it. Unfortunately, the game does inherit some of the same frustrating problems that plagued its predecessors, but nonetheless it is a fun shooter that's worth checking out.
Flank You Very Much
In Brothers In Arms 2: Global Front, You play as Corporal David Wilson, whose brother was also a soldier but died under suspicious circumstances. Now you find yourself not only trying to survive the brutal battles of World War II but also charged with the difficult task of hunting down the truth about your brother. This is a challenge that takes you across several levels spanning the globe, mostly from a third-person war shooter perspective but also including some vehicular sequences.
The levels consist of finding your way through the specified path in order to reach locations or destroy enemy equipment while fending off enemy soldiers at almost every turn, using the on-screen virtual joystick and buttons. Most of the time, you'll be shooting at them using the standard gun, which fires fast enough to keep you alive, but just barely. The game also features a machine gun, sniper rifle, rocket launcher, and other more powerful weapons, but sadly you won't get to use them very often and much of the time you're stuck with the regular gun, which is less exciting.
The first Brothers In Arms game for iPhone had controls that were so unreliable that I literally broke a sync cable that I had connected to my iPhone from trying so vigorously to regain control of my character. Subsequent updates did help somewhat, but sketchy controls are something of a chronic problem in the Brothers In Arms series. This time around, controls work well enough for standard ground combat, and you can move around comfortably and control the camera easily. The game offers an auto-target feature that snaps the cursor directly onto enemies if you aim it "close but not quite," which makes it a lot easier to shoot at enemies without becoming frustrated. Overall, the combat scenes are fast and thrilling but also responsive enough to avoid being frustrating.
So it seems GameLoft has fixed the problems with controls in the BIA series... or it did seem that way, until you get into a vehicle. The driving sections are unbearable hard to control, and the Jeep in particular seems to have a mind of its own, with the virtual joystick seemingly having almost no control over where it drives. The problem is so maddening that you will literally wish you could just walk the entire distance on foot, but the game doesn't give you that option. The only upside here is that the vehicle scenes are pretty rare, so you don't have to deal with them very much, although you would probably actually want more vehicle levels if the controls worked better.
Thankfully, the game's stability is at least pretty solid, and it didn't display any significant problems with crashing during our testing.
BIA2 is a good looking game. The 3D environments are pretty detailed without many visual glitches, and the character animations are sufficiently smooth and realistic to be believable. The graphics are blockier and less impressive than what you would get from, say, a PS3, but they are certainly on par with at least a PSP or PS2. In terms of whether the graphics really make full use of what the iPad is capable of, all I can really say is, "Who knows?" The iPad is still new and has very few games with high-end graphics available for it, so what the iPad is capable of is something that still remains to be seen.
For such a heavyweight game, it's a bit disappointing how repetitive some of the sound bites are - for example, you will hear shouts of "Grenade - get out of there!" dozens of times throughout the game; there are no variations or other versions of that exclamation, just the same one, over and over, even if there is nowhere to get out of at the moment.
Besides the repetitive and limited nature of the in-game voices, the voice acting is, well, bad. In some scenes it feels almost like you are interacting with rejected Looney Tunes characters, which makes it pretty hard to take them seriously.
The background music is passable and fits the mood without being too intrusive, although it's pretty forgettable.
Brothers In Arms 2 is one of the best World War II shooter games for iPad - but that's partly because Brothers In Arms 2 is one of the only World War II shooter games for iPad. If BIA2 did have stiffer competition to face, gamers would kick its weak soundtrack and vehicle levels straight to the virtual curb. However, the most fundamental element of the game - combat on foot - works well and is exciting and fun, and this is enough to make it enjoyable to play in spite of some drawbacks.
Graphics: 4.0/5.0 The graphics look good but aren't revolutionary.
Sound: 2.0/5.0 GameLoft drops the ball here with bad voice acting that's also too repetitive. The music and sound effects are adequate.
Controls: 3.5/5.0 The movement and camera controls while on foot are slick and accurate. But the controls while in a vehicle are dismal. We hope GameLoft address this with a future update.
GamePlay: 4.0/5.0 World War II third-person shooters are a tried-and-true formula that have been a bit overdone lately, but that also means you probably already know how to just pick up and play BIA2 without really needing any training. The heart of the game is the shootouts and sieges against enemy soldiers, and these are fun and exciting enough to hold your attention throughout the game.
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