Call Of Duty: Strike Team Offers A Whole Lot Of FPS Bang For Your Buck [Review]

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Call of Duty: Strike Team by Activision Publishing, Inc.
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Price: $2.99

It’s been a while since we had a Call of Duty game for iOS. This latest incarnation — first released back in September — is set in the Black Ops II universe, and follows a Joint Special Operations Team in the year 2020, as they battle Cordis Die, a pseudo-terrorist organization with unfriendly intentions. (Don’t they all seem to have those?)

The first thing that struck me about Strike Team were the graphics. Simply put, this is one of the most visually attractive iOS games of 2013. From impressive weather effects to beautifully rendered surroundings, this is one mobile Call of Duty that looks (and in some ways feels) very much like one of its console big brothers.

This is one of the most visually attractive iOS games of 2013

I’ve often steered clear of First Person Shooters on iPhone and iPad due to the iffy controls that accompany the smaller screen size (in the case of the iPhone) and buttonless touch screen interface (in the case of both). Developers Blast Furnace are clearly aware of this concern on the part of gamers since what they have built is — more than ever — very much a Call of Duty with iOS devices in mind, as opposed to just a subpar port of a console version with slightly more rubbish controls.

Looking around, for example, can be done using devices’ in-built accelerometer. It’s a neat touch and — while hardly the first game to employ such an innovation — does genuinely feel intuitive on the part of the player. Seeking a way around the classic console problem of auto-aim (making the game too easy) or manual targeting (making it difficult to run and shoot at the same time), Blast Furnace have also given players the ability to toggle or “snap” between enemies by hitting buttons on the side of the screen, thereby getting around some (although not all) of the problems familiar to smartphone FPSs.

The biggest innovation and change from other Call of Duty games, however, is the decision to essentially make Strike Team two-games-in-one: the first a fairly classic FPS — and the second a more strategic, third person sim which allows players to control their troops from a drone’s eye view perspective. While the running and gunning you would expect from a Call of Duty game can be done in FPS mode, the player can also take a wider view of the battlefield: directing their troops in a more tactical manner using various touch commands.

Strike Team gives you the option of switching between viewing modes

Strike Team gives you the option of switching between viewing modes

Does it work?

Pretty well.

The secret to making an innovative two-in-one concept work is ensuring that both do, in fact, feel as if they are part of the same game: a bit like jumping between characters and storylines in a TV show but still feeling like you’re watching scenes that take place in the same fictional universe.

In a best case scenario, players would intuitively wind up switching between modes constantly (the game allows you to do this at almost any time) — while the choices would enable the game to be played in several different ways.

Blast Furnace clearly want players to make equal use of both modes, since certain parts of different campaigns appear to be designed specifically with one view in mind. Some maneuvers are available in only one mode — such as the assisted wall-climb which involves two members of your group working together to hoist you over a wall. In other situations, the choice is yours about how best to proceed — and it is in these naturalistic moments that the interface really shines.

[Strike Team is] two-games-in-one

Strike Team has been generally well served in terms of updates. While the original game was impressive enough, a November update saw a new Time Attack mode added, which lets you earn more time on the clock for each bad guy you eliminate — meaning that the better you do the longer you’ll last. The update also added a new area called the Atlas Mountains for those that have leveled up to 16, and support for iOS 7 controllers, such as the dual-stick controller like the Moga Ace Power. A December update meanwhile added new weapons, a Global Conflict mode and other innovations.

Not perfect in every regard, this is still a damn fine iOS shooter. Moreover, it really does feel like a Call of Duty game.

And for something that fits into your pocket (or iPad case) that’s really quite the impressive feat.

callofduty3 Game Name: Call of Duty: Strike Team
The Good: Packs a whole lot of bang for your buck.
The Bad: FPS controls can be a challenge; the two viewing modes don’t always fit together perfectly.
The Verdict: A fun addition to the Call of Duty series. And reasonably priced, too.
Buy from: App Store

Cult of Mac rating: 4/5

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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