Brothers in Arms: Hour of Heroes Micro-Review: A Touching AttemptS

More Brothers in Arms? Yes, please. On the iPhone? Beg pardon?

Brothers in Arms: Hour of Heroes looks to bring the fast-paced play of a World War II shooters to the iPhone, a device that is not only analog stick free, but button free. The only way to do this is to break out of the routine and invent a new control system. Never before has a game's worth so hinged on a single control dynamic.

Loved
The Controls: While the game's virtual analog sticks can take some getting used to, in the end they work. It also helps that there are three completely different types of controls for this iPhone shooter. The way I played had me scooting my thumb around on the small radar circle, which acted as a virtual thumbstick, on the bottom left of the screen to move, and dragging the screen to aim. ( You can even pinch the screen to enter a sniping mode) On screen icons were used for throwing grenades, actions and firing. Coupling these adequate controls with a fairly robust auto-aim system resulted in controls that mostly stayed out of the way of the fun.

The Tanks: The best part of the game were those levels in which you trudged around a map in a slow moving tank, blowing up buildings, sending people flying and exploding other armored vehicles. It works so well because the slower movements associated with touch aiming fits the slower movements of a tank perfectly.

Hated
The Jeep: The jeep's controls in the game are simply broken. To steer you need to move around a tiny steering wheel and then you use your other finger to touch either a gas or brake pedal. How a developer responsible for so many other neat control ideas could so thoroughly botch this one is beyond me.

Brothers in Arms: Hour of Heroes isn't a traditional shooter, not even one built for a portable. But through 13 levels of sniping, machine gunning and tanking, I came to realize that something reminiscent of a third-person shooter may be OK as well. The thing is, this is a game I'm not going to spend hours and hours on. It's meant to be something you pick up and play for a bit and then put down. And while the controls can be a bit awkward at first, the developers did a resounding job of creating maybe not a shooter, but something fun.

Brothers in Arms Hour of Heroes was developed and published by Gameloft, released in North America on November 23 for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Retails for $9.99. Completed game on Normal Mode.

Confused by our reviews? Read our review FAQ.