Held hostage by simplicity
Call of Duty: Strike Team is an ambitious blend of FPS and tactical squad-based strategy that takes place in the near future. Guns are slightly cooler but war is still as hot-tempered as always, even requesting civilians with iPads to step in. As tactical warfare lends itself perfectly for the touchscreen, we are happy to put our idevices to service but is Call of Duty: Strike Team worth the effort?
From the view of a global map, several locations light up as to show where the action is in the campaign mode of Call of Duty: Strike Team. Despite rich visuals and good voice acting, the story seems of no importance and serves merely as a catalyst for action-packed journeys to exotic locations such as the Arctic Circle, Afghanistan and China. During a rather short campaign (divided over three locations and 16 missions) you control a strike team comprised of two to four soldiers along rickety rooftops, Bond-esque research stations and warlord hideouts that could benefit from a different set of carpets on the wall every now and then.
The first mission acts as a tutorial, teaching you the ropes of squad control and switching between the FPS and tactical (drone) view. It is an original approach and certain actions -like shooting barrels and taking out snipers- can only be performed from a first-person view, while taking cover and sending a squad ahead require a wider scope. The drone view offers an overview as seen in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with equally excellent controls (both movement and camera). On the other hand, the FPS-mode leaves room for improvement due to choppy frame rates and equally choppy controls. As soon as you need quick kills or a swift escape, switching to drone view is pure necessity, proving that the dual views are not as seamlessly interchangeable as advertised.
Call of Duty: Strike Team has its moments, especially when you breach a room, are thrown into FPS-view and a kind of bullet time commences. Unfortunately, there’s a tempting aim assist (aptly referred to as ‘snap to target’) that’s always on and when used, reduces battles to simple tapping games. Naturally you don’t have to use snap to target but if you smoke ‘em if you got em (like we do) you’ll succumb to its temptations soon enough. The same goes for the fights in drone mode: taking down soldiers requires no more than a double tap and although there are strategic moments and cover-based action, it does all boil down to tapping. Raining death from above in a ground attack aircraft (à la Zombie Gunship) forms a nice distraction, yet again those irresistible snap to target buttons kill the fun.
Action and strategy go hand in hand and Call of Duty: Strike Team may just blow any bad memories you have of Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified to bits. Beware of this title though, because it is a far cry from quality shooters on mobile platforms. Call of Duty: Strike Team never even comes close to the graphical beauty of the Modern Combat series or the tactical excitement experienced in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The campaign is very short, the controls leave room for improvement and the story is over before you grasp its silliness. We do see where Activision is going with this and expect good things for the future, perhaps with multiplayer, some extra maps and modernized controls the next time around.
Call of Duty: Strike Team is available now as a universal download for $ 6.99. Get it in the