In online team-based shooters there's often a stealthy class that can slip behind enemy lines by mimicking an opponent's appearance.
Appropriately enough, Blitz Brigade from Gameloft tries a similar trick in a bid to cause disruption in the smartphone shooter scene.
The question is, once you get past its copycat disguise is there anything of note underneath?M.A.S.H. up
Gameloft's a dab hand at, er, 'borrowing' ideas for its games. In this case, the source material is clearly Valve's ace online shooter Team Fortress 2.
It's obvious from the chunky cartoon art style (which works very well here, it must be said), the finely balanced blue vs red ebb and flow of its six vs six (at most) battles, and the ability to pick a class that suits your playing style.
But there are also elements of Dice's Battlefield series in Blitz Brigade's wide open levels and vehicular combat.Touchy shooty
So those are the reference points. Is Blitz Brigade any good? After a dodgy launch in which various connectivity issues hampered people's enjoyment of the game, we can safely say: yes. It's now pretty darned good, as online iOS and Android shooters go.
There will be those who still reject the very concept of playing an FPS on a touchscreen device, and Blitz Brigade is unlikely to win such detractors over.
You still move with a virtual joystick on one side of the screen, modify your view and aim with your opposite thumb, and fire using a virtual button on the same side of the screen. It works, but it'll never feel completely comfortable. That's just how it is.
The important thing to note, though, is that this control system rarely stands in the way of completing your objectives within the game, and nor has the shooting been automated to the point of removing any traces of skill.Take aim
True, there's a hefty auto lock-on system here that will snap your sights to an opponent as soon as your view is roughly aligned with his head or torso.
But you're also rewarded for taking an opponent by surprise, firing from behind cover, getting in close, and keeping him firmly in front of you. If you create for yourself the time and space to bring up your gun's sights, meanwhile, you'll have a massive advantage over a free-firing opponent - particularly from range.
In short, the game rewards you for fighting smartly rather than having ninja twitch skills.
Even when the game's upgrade and IAP system starts throwing up opponents with superior weaponry, you'll still be able to hold your own by fighting on your terms.Finding your way around
This tactical scope is largely enabled by Blitz Brigade's fine level design. Levels vary in quality and quantity, but the five levels (three Domination, two Deathmatch) provided all have landmarks to head for, cover to dart between, and elevated positions to snipe from.
All stages grant you points for killing, assisting, and grabbing territory by running up to one of the flags scattered throughout the terrain.
The addition of vehicles is another great leveller. The jeep is fast and can carry two players, but it's flimsy and hard to control. The tank is tough and powerful but slow. The chopper, meanwhile, grants a great overview of the map, but is tough to wield effectively and leaves you exposed.
So, Blitz Brigade is an accomplished team-based shooter. Why not a higher score?Weapon jam
Besides the lack of levels, there are still issues with the online setup. Getting connected is still a bit of a hassle - especially if you jump back into the game after some time away, which invariably requires a game restart before you can log back in.
It's also annoying that you have to be connected to play through the single-player training missions. While we're at it, why are there no looping level playlists? If you stay on a server between rounds, you'll just play the same level again ad infinitum.
Then there's the simple fact that Blitz Brigade is a freemium title.
As we've discussed, a skilful player will come out on top ahead of a spend-happy player most times, but it's still annoying to see vast swathes of unlockable weaponry and equipment out of reach without splashing the cash.
You can even respawn quicker by spending a gem, the game's real money-chewing currency.
Regardless of Blitz Brigade's blatant plagiarism, the bones are here of a truly excellent online shooter. If it eased up on the freemium model, provided more levels, and sorted its lingering online gremlins, it would be an absolute must-have.
As it is, it's still nigh-on essential for those itching to compete online on iOS and Android.