If you play Call of Duty: Strike Team like any other game with "Call of Duty" in the title, you're going to be disappointed.
This is a predictable and generally uninspired first-person blaster, and it has all the usual control issues you find on these touchscreen-driven shooters.
You can't aim and shoot at the same time, your accuracy is severely hindered, and manoeuvres that would be easy on a controller become a fumbled cats-cradle of awkward fingers and thumbs on the iPad.
The ability to instantly snap your viewpoint between enemy targets, by jabbing your thumbs into the left and right sides of the screen, certainly helps you tackle lots of enemies, but that can be quite disorientating.
But to play Strike Team in first-person would be to miss out on the real fun. Instead, you should hit that big ol' button in the top corner to be whisked out of sergeant Reed's eye sockets, and swap your viewpoint to a UAV that's floating high above the battlefield.
Suddenly, the game transforms into a real-time strategy game. The battlefield now looks like a very violent expansion pack for The Sims, and your two soldiers become a pair of pawns on a grand chessboard.
In this mode, the game is a completely different beast. You now have control of both soldiers at once, and can command them to move (walk or run, depending on the situation), hack into turrets, kick down doors, scoop up intel, or gun down bad guys.
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It's easier to see what's going on, a lot easier to control, and you can tackle missions more tactically or stealthily.
You might want to separate your forces, letting one soldier climb up to a balcony and provide covering fire with a silenced sniper rifle, while another skulks about on the ground, stabbing guards in the back, lobbing dead bodies in nearby bins, and disabling alarms.
Or you could perhaps orchestrate the tactical takedown of a goon on a mini-gun by having one soldier sneak around the side and lob a grenade into the turret.
It is not perfect, though. You cannot stack up on doors, see inside rooms unless you're stood in them, or change weapons. And shooting enemies from cover - something that is effortless in iOS tactics games XCOM and Breach & Clear - can be quite unpredictable.
If a soldier is stood behind a tall pillar and you command him to shoot a nearby enemy, there's no telling whether he'll successfully pull off the shot, or just spin slowly around in a circle before giving up on the whole 'shooting bad guys' thing.
Care package on the way
And beyond those frustrations, this is simply not an incredibly deep tactical game. Your options are often quite limited, either by the small handful of different actions you can pull off, or the uninspiring shape and layout of most maps.
But it does put a very welcome spin on the Call of Duty franchise, and makes the billion-dollar franchise work splendidly on a touchscreen (especially the iPad). I almost wish the developer had focused all of its attention on this style of play, and made it perfect.
Having said that, being able to seamlessly jump back into first-person mode is quite handy if you're swamped by enemy forces and want to take out a wave of enemies quickly.
And the brief sections where you're absolutely forced to play in first-person - such as breaching doors (in classic slow motion, of course), or taking the reins of a gunship - give the slow and detached RTS sections a nice big dramatic kick in the behind.
Show no mercy
Between missions, you can equip your squad members with different weapons and perks. You can also upgrade your armour, and restock on the game's three pieces of equipment - frag grenades, claymores, and health packs.
The only problem I found with the equipment screen is that there's no indication of what type of mission you're going to play. I often gave my guys a pair of silenced sniper levels, only to be dropped head-first into a heated war zone where stealth was not even an option.
The game has a pretty hefty campaign, with missions in the Arctic, Afghanistan, and Kowloon, which will keep you occupied for a few hours. And after that, there are extra-curricular objectives to complete in every story mission, loads of survival maps, and challenges - like how fast can you score ten headshots - to earn extra cash.
Enemy helicopter inbound
Ultimately, Call of Duty: Strike Team is another fumbling, clumsy touchscreen shooter for iOS, but with a truly interesting and enjoyable real-time strategy game available at the touch of a button.
Sure, this mode is about as deep as a paddling pool and littered with annoyances and nuisance limitations, but it's often a lot of fun and will keep you engaged through the game's generous campaign.
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