- Release Date: May 9, 2013
- Publisher: Gameloft
- Developer: Gameloft
- Genre: Shooter
The extremely prolific game studio, Gameloft, has tried its hand at the frantic multiplayer shooter formula of Valve’s Team Fortress 2. Tried, and succeeded, I might add. The game is Blitz Brigade for iOS and Gameloft has done a seriously good job of making it a very fun team shooter with five different classes and lots of guns.
Blitz Brigade features 120 single-player levels and two different multiplayer modes. When you first start up the game, it will ask if you want to enable the gyro controls. I highly recommend enabling the gyro. Even if you’re in a public place where you don’t want to be seen pointing your device around like a lunatic, the gyro controls only add to the game, they do not replace the touchscreen controls. From the main menu, you should dive into the single-player Training Missions to get used to the controls before taking on other players in online play.
The single-player mode is actually quite deep. Its 120 levels are divided into 12 different stages. The odd-numbered stages put you in control of the blue Allies team and the even-numbered stages give you a chance to play for the red Axis team. The levels task you with various objectives that all revolve around shooting up waves of the enemy team. There are three score-based stars to be earned in each level. To maximize your score, you’ll have to chain together enemy kills to increase your multiplier. If you take too long to kill your multiplier will reset. Each level also contains either one or two hidden puzzle pieces. Each stage has 16 puzzle pieces that fit together to reveal concept art. Between skillfully taking down every enemy in one steady chain of kills to maximize your score and ignoring the action to slowly scan the environment for hidden puzzle pieces, the game’s 120 levels are going to last you a long time and you’ll earn XP and coins along the way.
The meat of Blitz Brigade is its online multiplayer. There are two game modes, Team Deathmatch and Domination. Team Deathmatch is 4v4 and takes place on smaller maps. Points are given out for killing an enemy player and the first team to 15 points wins. Domination is 6v6 and takes place on bigger maps that feature vehicles (4x4s, tanks, and helicopters). Points are given out for kills and capturing flags, the first team to 30 points wins. Both of the game modes are fast-paced and a lot of fun.
You have the choice between three classes, Soldier, Gunner, and Medic. Two more classes (Sniper and Stealth) can be unlocked by leveling up or spending diamonds, the game’s premium in-game currency. Each class plays very differently and teams that consist of a good balance of different classes will have an inherent advantage. The Soldier is versatile and captures flags the fastest (capturing a flag only requires that you stand next to it while a progress bar advances). The Gunner is slow but can take the most damage and can lay down suppressive fire. The Medic can heal teammates and has a shotgun that makes him deadly at close range. The Sniper, of course, excels at killing from a distance. The Stealth is fast and has an array of silenced guns and powerful melee weapons.
Each class has a wide selection of unique primary guns, secondary guns, melee weapons, taunts, greeting sound clips, and kill sound clips. All of the weapons can be unlocked with coins when you reach a certain level or diamonds regardless of your level. The taunts and sound clips can only be purchased with diamonds, but you can preview them before buying them. On top of that, each weapon has an XP bar to progress through and will gain small upgrades when the bar reaches 30%, 60%, and 100% completion.
The combination of touch and tilt controls works really well, but it takes a while to get used to using both in harmony. I found that the touchscreen controls were great for fast basic aiming and then using the tilt controls for precision aiming worked best. The tilt controls are also nice so that you can move, aim, and shoot all at the same time. Movement uses a virtual thumbstick and firing uses a virtual button. Touching the screen anywhere there is not a button will let you drag the camera around for touchscreen aiming. This works great most of the time, I rarely lost the virtual controls for my main actions. There are, however, a bunch of minor actions that are all mapped to virtual buttons. These include sprinting, jumping, instantly turning 180 degrees, looking down your gun’s sights, throwing a grenade, reloading, and changing your weapon. Most of these actions are used infrequently, but when I wanted to use them, I had to lose focus on the action and stare at the UI for a little while.
The game is not without its flaws. As stated previously, minor actions get lost among so many virtual buttons. The auto-aim works really well from a distance but up close it makes melee attacks almost impossible to land except on stationary targets. Multiplayer only features four unique maps. Death in multiplayer means waiting 15 seconds before you can respawn. That may not seem like much but several deaths in one match quickly add up to over a minute of sitting out of the game. Additionally, finding a match can take a few tries. There were several times I was searching for a quickplay match and encountered a server error. Each time this happened, it took another 45 seconds to start over and find another match. Fortunately, once I got into a match, I didn’t experience any lag or other network issues at all.
The most obvious flaw is one that is so often complained about – Gameloft is beating us over the head with in-app purchases. They are absolutely everywhere in this game. I am not against IAP in general, but IAP that allows you to buy your way to being the best player is bad for the game and its players. Admittedly, the only purchases are packs of coins and packs of diamonds, but the IAP is basically the only way to get diamonds. You can then spend diamonds on unlocking guns and classes early, maxing out a gun’s XP bar, completing a single-player puzzle, respawning instantly (instead of waiting 15 seconds), activating a 24-hour coin or XP doubler, and buying all kinds of consumable items that boost your performance in multiplayer. If the IAP was only to skip grinding or to receive superficial aesthetic items, that would be fine. However, the IAP here allows somebody to spend money to skip respawn times and stack up on awesome consumable items and both of these things is going to give that player a huge advantage that a non-paying player is just not going to be able to access.
Not everything surrounding the IAP is horrible though. If you purchase any of the coin or diamond packs (they range from $1.99 to $99.99), you become a VIP member permanently. This gives you a permanent 50% boost on the XP you earn and a 10% boost on the coins you earn. Additionally, all of the locked guns and both of the locked classes can be unlocked simply by playing the game and earning coins and XP.
The bottom line is, this is a free-to-play game and Gameloft needs to make money somehow. It’s disappointing that the money can be used to disrupt fair competition, but that hasn’t stopped me from having a blast playing through the single-player Training Missions and playing against other players online.
Blitz Brigade is packed full of content and it is all presented with the excellent production value that Gameloft is known for. The graphics are sharp and vibrant, there are tons of unlockables, and the multiplayer is as smooth as butter (once you can get in a match!). All of this content means Blitz Brigade weighs in at a whopping 588 MB download size that nearly doubles once it is installed on your device. The game is well worth that blow to your precious free space though, especially if you’re looking for a great action game. Even if you’re not into multiplayer gaming, the surprisingly robust single-player offering is excellent and stands on its own.
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