On consoles Battlefield Bad Company is a really, really well regarded franchise. On the iPad, it is quite poor. It’s a problem that is not so much the fault of the game itself, but Battlefield Bad Company 2 HD just doesn’t work well with the touch screen.
|... and those environments are one big long glorified pathway|
Of course, as you’d expect from one of the most well-regarded FPS franchises, the presentation is right up there. Though the characters and settings are a bit on the blocky side, they are nicely detailed, and animate well. That presentation is let down somewhat by a framerate that does at times screech to a halt (at least, on iPad 1 hardware), but for the most part this is a good looking iPad game.
The problems start with the control system, which never quite works. There are three alternatives, and with practice, you can get the hang of one of them to an extent, but it’s never going to be as comfortable as a mouse and keyboard, dual stick controller or motion controller. For me, the best control set up was the virtual control stick, but the buttons for firing weapons were too small, placed too close to other actions (such as tossing a grenade), and the speed of turning was too slow and cumbersome.
The single player game conforms to modern FPS standards – that is to say it’s an utterly throwaway experience. It’s a corridor shooter – run down a path, have shootout with numerous goons, run down another path. It’s broken up occasionally with driving sections or the need to call in airstrikes, but it’s a relentlessly linear experience, and after a while, grows tiring; especially considering the plot and the voice acting are both resoundingly weak.
The multiplayer experience on the other hand, is what modern FPSers focus on. Here, it’s surprisingly limited. The handful of maps are fairly well designed, and the game supports a typical-sized deathmatch for up to ten players, but the gameplay modes are thin, there’s none of those fancy experience and upgrade systems, and the statistics tracking is surprisingly limited.
|Hopefully in an update they can bring the fun|
Heck, this game doesn’t even support Game Centre. I’m starting to grow irritated of the larger publishers that choose to create their own achievements systems than use Apple’s. Gameloft is equally to blame here – it would be nice to have the leaderboards and achievements in one convenient place to share with our friends, thanks.
Multiplayer is also plagued with some nasty graphical glitches, and the poor control system hurts this side of the game even more than it does the single player campaign. After spending too much time in multiplayer FPSers on the PlayStation Network, it’s amusing and tragic to watch everyone struggle with this game’s controls – you can just see the effort they’re going into to turn around and running and gunning is out – here it’s more a case of stand and deliver. Watching a good player let loose in a console or PC FPS game is spectacular. Here, it’s just clunky.
It’s hugely disappointing to say this, but Battlefield fails to provide an entertaining experience on the iPad. The good intentions are there (assuming you enjoy this kind of game), but the iPad lacks the tactile finesse required for this kind of action game. If you’re desperate for some FPSer action on the go, then this is decent enough, but considering Gameloft’s Modern Combat is better value for much the same thing, it’s probably better sticking to that.