As much as I don’t want to admit it — mostly because as a jaded, grouchy old game reviewer, I’m supposed to have experienced everything mobile gaming has to offer — Blitz Brigade absolutely floored me. Is flooring me, actually, considering the game’s loaded on my tablet right now, calling for me from across the desk to come play another round. Even then, I can’t quite believe it. I’m still looking for a catch, a snag, a game-breaking bug or design flaw. There’s no way a Team Fortress 2 semi-clone made for mobile devices should work nearly so well as it does. No way whatsoever.
And yet here it is. Make no mistake about it: Blitz Brigade is very real, and it’s very, very good. Killer-app, best-FPS-and-possibly-best-overall-game-on-mobile good. The “overall game” point, of course, is debatable. The “FPS” one is too, I suppose, but it’s about as close to an objectively superior shooter as you can get. It’s a game that bridges the gap between smartphones and their console brethren so well it’s not hard to see games as a whole crossing over in the very near future. As effusive as my praise may sound, I stand by every single word I say. Don’t believe me? Download it and see if it doesn’t blow your mind just like it did mine.
Delicious Eye Candy
Cutting-edge graphics and first person shooters go together like cheap wine and a hangover. Guns and gore might have bought Doom a bunch of controversy in the 90’s, for instance, but the visuals were what had most gamers of the era scooping their collective jaws off the floor. Since then, shooters have been the genre of choice when it comes time for a company to show off its shiny new engine or awesome art direction. Mobile giant Gameloft clearly understood the pedigree when they sat down to craft Blitz Brigade. On my Nexus 10, the game’s character models and environments look like they came from a newer PC game as played on a mid-range system, which is a pretty astounding feat considering the N64-looking titles that passed for blockbusters not a year ago. As cool as that is now, it’s even cooler to think we won’t have to consider titles pretty for Android games in the very near future. If I could just get a flying car and robot butler, I’d be perfectly content to say I was truly living in the future.
Stealing From The Fortress
The Team Fortress 2 connection, as stated above, is undeniable here. The, uh, “borrowing” is so blatant I have to wonder how okay I’d be with it in a lesser title. The classes range from the general-use Soldier to the heavy-but-powerful Gunner to the silent but deadly Stealth… and yes, before you ask, the class is just called Stealth. Don’t ask me. I just review the games. Inconsistent naming conventions aside, anyone who’s even passingly familiar with Valve’s class-based shooter should already be arching an eyebrow. The funky-retro spy music and blocky fonts making up the non-gameplay parts of the experience make the homage even less subtle. As in screaming-through-a-bullhorn less subtle.
If any of this has triggered your ripoff sensor, well, it probably should. But keep playing. Seriously. The game gets away with its five-finger-discount approach to cooperative shooters because, with or without the similarities, it’s still a really solid title. If you never stop noticing stuff that reminds you of the classic PC title you’re probably still going to have a blast. If not, I can almost guarantee it’ll have nothing to do with the stuff I’m talking about. It’s so good I don’t care that I’m starting to sound like a Gameloft pitchman. On that note: Have you downloaded it yet?
A Life Of Its Own
Past the (many) obvious comparisons, Blitz Brigade does plenty right on its own. The 120 single-player levels — inexplicably called “Training Missions” despite having more content than most other games on the Play Store — put you behind the barrel of every class and counts the experience and currency you earn towards stuff you can use in online matches. For a hermit like me, it’s a wonderful addition to an already top-notch title. I personally had the most fun with the Sniper’s missions, which give you a big gun with a bigger scope and set you free to do some long-range murderin’. Others include standard free-moving, deathmatch-style encounters with the various classes, while others set you up with mounted machine guns and attack helicopters. The ranking system gives achievement-based gamers a reason to try each of the levels over and over until they achieve perfection, while hidden puzzle pieces and gun unlocks mean there’s always something new to do with a little extra work. And that’s before we even consider the multiplayer aspect, which reminds me…
The Multiplayer Is Awesome
It doesn’t matter that I was terrible at Blitz Brigade’s multiplayer. It’s still bar none the best online experience I’ve had in a mobile game. Once I found a playable match (more on that below), shedding blood was a blast whether it belonged to me or the other guy. Granted, it was generally mine, but the silver lining of having a negative kill-death ratio is how good murdering the other guy feels when you finally get a lucky shot in. Deathmatch mode sets two teams of four against each other in a race to 15 kills, while Domination’s six-on-six battles focus on defense and capturing for the team-minded players in the crowd. A combination of solid controls and smart auto-aim make killing everything in front of your crosshairs a (relative) breeze — for all my many deaths, I only felt like I lost my life to circumstances outside my own lack of skill a handful of times.
There are a few snags with the online offerings, however, and they represent the two biggest beefs I have with the game. One, a strange bug that caused my devices to completely disconnect from Wi-Fi when I attempted to connect to a game, happened just frequently enough to be frustrating; the other made the game freeze on the looking-for-game screen for somewhere between thirty seconds and two minutes before crashing to the home screen. Neither killed my enjoyment of the title, mind you. They were just far from one-off experiences.
Premium Game, Premium Content
As a final note, I’d like to thank the fine folks at Gameloft for making the premium content totally optional. Note that I didn’t say theoretically optional here. The coins and gems you collect buy guns and perks for your classes are, as I’m sure you’ve come to expect, available for purchase in the game’s online score. The combination of fun gameplay and realistic goals, however, mean you can unlock most everything Blitz Brigade has to offer with good old-fashioned hard work. If you want to call playing an incredibly fun online FPS hard work. I’d call it a potato-potato thing if I could figure out a way to make you hear the odd pronunciation of the second word in the saying. Potahto, maybe? Whatever.
I think I’ve made my opinion of this title pretty clear. If not: Go download it as soon as you can. There’s enough content here to make the game worth several bucks on the Play Store. As a freemium title, especially one that doesn’t force your hand when it comes to buying content, it’s an absolute must-download. I don’t know what to say other than check it out. Actually, I do know what to say. I just want to get back to playing. Is skipping work to play video games really skipping when you’re a reviewer by trade?