Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Price: $4.99
Version: 1.2306
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

When it comes to realistic military combat simulations, PC gamers look no further than Bohemia Interactive’s ARMA franchise. The series is now making the jump to mobile with the developer’s freshman release on iOS, Arma Tactics. Can the realism-focused brand transition well to the bite-sized gaming ecosystem, or do the over-ambitious expectations of the player prove to place the title out of the grasp of most of the core demographic?

IMG_0464Titles like XCOM have proven that there is plenty of room for a tactics-based action game on iOS. With that in mind, Arma Tactics would seem like the perfect fit to assume the mantle that 2K’s reigning champion currently holds atop the genre. While this promise is delivered on in some respects, the developer’s relative inexperience with portable platforms seems to hold back what could have been, and by all rights should have been, a match made in heaven. Instead, the result is a great core game hampered by technical flaws and critical errors in design.

Like having a single match last immense amounts of time? This would be fine and dandy when behind the controls of a mouse and keyboard or console controller, but when the battlefield can fit in a pocket these extended sessions end up hampering the appeal of venturing back into the line of fire. Compound this with a lackluster control scheme that makes consistent squad control nearly impossible, and a camera that spastically prefers to focus on the sand next to the action instead of the actual combat itself, and the result is a long match that could be accidentally brought to a screeching halt by a simple misread troop movement.

IMG_0463Dedicated tactics junkies should be able to look past these otherwise critical missteps and appreciate the deep and infinitely replayable mission set. The ability to randomly generate missions and constantly improve squad mates can be a great way to keep players coming back indefinitely. However, when the runtime can be measured in half hour increments instead of minutes, most will get their fill after only a few frustration-laden missions.

It is never fun to see a title that could have been good underperform, but unfortunately Arma Tactics ends up falling into this tragic category. With adjustments to the control scheme and mission scope it could still be salvageable, but it has a long way to go before it could ever hold a candle to other genre peers already available on iOS. It may be best to take cover and not engage this squad in combat.


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