Military shooters are hardly renowned for their memorable characters. Sure, Price from Modern Warfare on home consoles is the one with the ‘tache, and the woman from Homefront is a woman, but that’s usually about as far as your understanding of their motivations extends.
So the banter and general air of likable ineptitude that surrounds the Bad Company of the title from this latest Xperia exclusive from EA Mobile comes as a breath of fresh air - cracking jokes and reeling off decent one-liners that actually make you care about their plight.
It’s a shame that the game they star in falls short of the target.
Pick yourself up, soldier!
Running parallel to the exploits in the home console version, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 picks up with Hags, Sarge, Sweetwater, and your character Preston attempting to retrieve a server containing information about a secret Russian weapon (it’s set in an alternative reality, if you’re wondering why the Russians are once again the baddies).
The graphics are a little muddied and obviously lack the destruction and other fancy features of its bigger brother, but Digital Legends has done a good job keeping the feel of the sprawling and varied missions intact for this mobile iteration.
That means you won’t just be running through waypoints and blasting down enemies, but also leaping into a selection of vehicles (and blasting down enemies) as well.
The controls aren’t as good as they could have been, however, thanks to the analogue nubs requiring strokes to use, rather than your relative position on the pads.
What this means in plain English is that they act like two little touchscreens - put your thumb in the top-left corner and nothing happens; move it down to the lower-right and your character looks down.
It’s an odd choice, as, while the trigger buttons make firing easier than before, the actual act of aiming is still prone to overshooting. It's better than a touchscreen, of course - there’s no finger gymnastics here - but it’s not exactly a full-blown FPS experience.
In the end, you’re more likely to rely on the incredibly generous auto-aim that snaps your iron sights into the perfect position, rather than trust your thumbs to look around for you.
Lost the platoon
While the controls are only a slight improvement over the original iPhone version, the loss of multiplayer bites a lot deeper.
FPS games on mobiles don’t exactly live or die on their multiplayer as with the home consoles, but the fact that Bad Company 2 did have multiplayer on the iPhone version makes its omission here a little more galling.
There’s still a solid campaign to play through, of course, and if you’re good you may be able to complete it (or at least beat most of the game) before the one hour trial comes to a close.
But while it’s quite fun for a trial, it’s unlikely you’ll shell out the cash when the timer runs out.