I’m surprised this is the first entry of Call of Duty to iOS, besides the Zombies game. The biggest shooter franchise and yet no ports to iPhone or iPad until now. Call of Duty: Strike Team is developed by The Blast Furnace, Activision’s new mobile development studio tasked with creating Call of Duty titles for mobile devices. I think they’ve made a decent game that has interesting concepts, but the flaws and frustrating controls hold this game back.
Strike Team has an intriguing story setup but ends up being a video game narrative many have heard a hundred times. The U.S. is blamed for a cyber attack on the stock market causing an economic meltdown. There’s also terrorists that must be stopped, missile silos to be shutdown, and soldiers that need killed. It’s based in the same universe as Black Ops but these all tend to run together in my eyes. It’s ambitious for a mobile game, but not the type of experience I really want with a system I mainly use on the go.
The game can be played in two ways: from a first-person camera or an overhead view much like a real-time strategy game. You can switch back and forth between these views and the game gives a prompt as to how it thinks you should handle each situation. The freedom is nice and I played from each viewpoint, but I tended to prefer the overhead perspective, though it has its own issues. It’s a great concept that can really open up how you play the game, but controlling each viewpoint has its setbacks.
Lets discuss the problems with first-person. It’s not easy to do dual-sticks on a touch screen and it never feels comfortable. I always overshoot my target or accidentally tap one of the many buttons that clutter the heads-up display. They “fix” this issue by putting arrows on each side of the screen that will snap to the next enemy on the screen. It works sometimes but will snap to people in cover, which means you end up maneuvering the camera anyway. It helps but it’s not a complete fix.
With the third-person you select the character to maneuver in the left hand corner and tap on the screen where to place him. Sometimes he goes into cover, but often your troops will stand around the destination getting shot. You can only assign one task at the same time, if troops are on the move and you tap on any enemy and the troops will stop and take them out. They then become stationary until you assign another task. Also tapping is sensitive and I would often tap a person into a spot when I meant to just scan around the environment.
Levels last around 10-15 minutes and are confined to small areas. The environments look nice but the game would hitch up during intense moments. It would sometimes delay a movement having me believe the screen didn’t pick up my thumb. It’s also hard to tell when you’re getting shot, especially in the overhead view. A lot of little problems tend to add up that detract from the positives including how well this game looks.
Call of Duty: Strike Team is an compelling experiment but held back by the touch controls. If this was made for a controller it could be more impressive. They packed a console-like game into Strike Team with leaderboards and challenge maps but it ultimately feels held back by its lackluster controls.