World War 2 shooters have been done to death on consoles, and most gamers are probably burned out on the genre. We certainly felt that way when we walked in to play Gameloft’s Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front for the iPhone and iPod Touch. To our surprise, this is a quality first-person shooter that fits nicely with the style Gameloft pioneered with Modern Combat: Sandstorm and N.O.V.A.
The Brothers in Arms series on consoles is lauded for its realism, but this iPhone version definitely feels like a videogame. You’re prompted to the next checkpoint by floating green arrows, and in one of the vehicle missions you have to fly your Horsa glider through a series of glowing rings. Maybe iPhone games haven’t graduated to the point where they can reasonably be called ‘realistic’, but as a first-person shooter, Brothers in Arms 2 looks great and is a lot of fun to play.
The controls are ripped straight out of N.O.V.A. and Modern Combat, with several refinements. The newest feature is a context-sensitive button that lets you take cover behind walls, moving the camera to a third-person view like the one from the original iPhone game. This lets you pop out to fire on German and Japanese soldiers without leaving yourself too exposed. The game also restores the ‘iron sights’ zoomed-in view that was missing from N.O.V.A., and a run button.
The levels provide an interesting range of theaters of war. You’ll travel to Sicily, Africa, Germany, and the Pacific, and each stage is introduced with a nicely-rendered cutscene. We’re told there will be seven hours of single-player gameplay in Brothers in Arms for around seven dollars, but we think that gameplay figure might be a little overly optimistic.
A handful of vehicle missions break up the on-foot action. The tank, while slow and difficult to control, had a nice feeling of firepower behind it when you demolish enemy bunkers. When you engage Panzers, the screen shakes and a rich booming sound fills your headphone speakers. The sound design seems especially well-done in this game.
The flying level, featuring a glider full of troops, uses the accelerometer. Planes without engines were actually used during World War 2, but we doubt they had to navigate floating circles to stay out of harm’s way. Still, this minigame had plenty of action occurring around the periphery, like battleships and flak cannons firing everywhere.
Like N.O.V.A., Brothers in Arms 2 will arrive at launch with online multiplayer via wi-fi, and local multiplayer over wi-fi or Bluetooth. However, the number of players per map has been bumped up to six for BIA2.
Even if you’re sick of WW2 shooters like we were, Brothers in Arms 2 is surprisingly polished. A few glitches popped up in our preview version, but if you forget about the realism and just focus on having fun, this might be Gameloft’s best FPS effort yet. Brothers in Arms 2 will be out later this month.