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Blitz Brigade

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Victory at a cost

Product: Blitz Brigade | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: iPad | Genre: Action, Multiplayer, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Blitz Brigade iPad, thumbnail 1
In online team-based shooters there's often a stealthy class that can slip behind enemy lines by mimicking an opponent's appearance.

Appropriately enough, Blitz Brigade from Gameloft tries a similar trick in a bid to cause disruption in the smartphone shooter scene.

The question is, once you get past its copycat disguise is there anything of note underneath?

M.A.S.H. up

Gameloft's a dab hand at, er, 'borrowing' ideas for its games. In this case, the source material is clearly Valve's ace online shooter Team Fortress 2.

It's obvious from the chunky cartoon art style (which works very well here, it must be said), the finely balanced blue vs red ebb and flow of its six vs six (at most) battles, and the ability to pick a class that suits your playing style.

But there are also elements of Dice's Battlefield series in Blitz Brigade's wide open levels and vehicular combat.

Touchy shooty

So those are the reference points. Is Blitz Brigade any good? After a dodgy launch in which various connectivity issues hampered people's enjoyment of the game, we can safely say: yes. It's now pretty darned good, as online iOS and Android shooters go.

There will be those who still reject the very concept of playing an FPS on a touchscreen device, and Blitz Brigade is unlikely to win such detractors over.

You still move with a virtual joystick on one side of the screen, modify your view and aim with your opposite thumb, and fire using a virtual button on the same side of the screen. It works, but it'll never feel completely comfortable. That's just how it is.

The important thing to note, though, is that this control system rarely stands in the way of completing your objectives within the game, and nor has the shooting been automated to the point of removing any traces of skill.

Take aim

True, there's a hefty auto lock-on system here that will snap your sights to an opponent as soon as your view is roughly aligned with his head or torso.

IAPs explained
The first point to emphasise is that you can play and thoroughly enjoy Blitz Brigade without spending a penny - but that doesn't mean you won't be prompted to splash the cash at every available moment.

Buying, repairing, and upgrading weapons all cost a chunk of the game's two currencies, as do additional items that can be equipped. You can also unlock additional classes prior to reaching the required level if you're willing to spend big.

You'll only be able to earn a certain amount of these two currencies through a reasonable degree of play, and then only really the coins.

Most of the game's cool weapons and key advantages (such as respawning quickly) can be bought with gems. You can buy 50 for £1.49 / $1.99, which is sufficient for 50 quick restarts. It's also enough to buy a relatively unexciting weapon or to upgrade your existing shooter.

You'll earn plenty of in-game coins through play, but you can also buy this secondary currency with cash. £1.49 / $1.99 gets you 4,000 coins, which is enough to buy you a couple of packs of limited-use items, such as grenades or extra ammo packs.
But you're also rewarded for taking an opponent by surprise, firing from behind cover, getting in close, and keeping him firmly in front of you. If you create for yourself the time and space to bring up your gun's sights, meanwhile, you'll have a massive advantage over a free-firing opponent - particularly from range.

In short, the game rewards you for fighting smartly rather than having ninja twitch skills.

Even when the game's upgrade and IAP system starts throwing up opponents with superior weaponry, you'll still be able to hold your own by fighting on your terms.

Finding your way around

This tactical scope is largely enabled by Blitz Brigade's fine level design. Levels vary in quality and quantity, but the five levels (three Domination, two Deathmatch) provided all have landmarks to head for, cover to dart between, and elevated positions to snipe from.

All stages grant you points for killing, assisting, and grabbing territory by running up to one of the flags scattered throughout the terrain.

The addition of vehicles is another great leveller. The jeep is fast and can carry two players, but it's flimsy and hard to control. The tank is tough and powerful but slow. The chopper, meanwhile, grants a great overview of the map, but is tough to wield effectively and leaves you exposed.

So, Blitz Brigade is an accomplished team-based shooter. Why not a higher score?

Weapon jam

Besides the lack of levels, there are still issues with the online setup. Getting connected is still a bit of a hassle - especially if you jump back into the game after some time away, which invariably requires a game restart before you can log back in.

It's also annoying that you have to be connected to play through the single-player training missions. While we're at it, why are there no looping level playlists? If you stay on a server between rounds, you'll just play the same level again ad infinitum.

Then there's the simple fact that Blitz Brigade is a freemium title.

As we've discussed, a skilful player will come out on top ahead of a spend-happy player most times, but it's still annoying to see vast swathes of unlockable weaponry and equipment out of reach without splashing the cash.

You can even respawn quicker by spending a gem, the game's real money-chewing currency.

Regardless of Blitz Brigade's blatant plagiarism, the bones are here of a truly excellent online shooter. If it eased up on the freemium model, provided more levels, and sorted its lingering online gremlins, it would be an absolute must-have.

As it is, it's still nigh-on essential for those itching to compete online on iOS and Android.
Blitz Brigade
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 20 May 2013
After a rocky start, Blitz Brigade has solidified into a fine online team-based shooter, albeit one with lingering connectivity issues and an OTT freemium economy
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