Modern Combat 5: Blackout Review

Gaming

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Modern Combat 5: Blackout
Developer: Gameloft
Publisher: Gameloft
Platforms: iPhone, iPad (Reviewed), Android, Windows Phone
Release Date: 24th July, 2014
Price: $6.99 – Available through iOS App Store, Google Play & Windows Phone Store

Overview

Gameloft’s Modern Combat franchise has always set out to do the impossible; create a title on mobile that can match its console brethren like Call of Duty or Battlefield. While it has never quite gotten to those lofty heights, each of the instalments has remained a fun way to blast apart your enemies on the go. Now we have Modern Combat 5: Blackout, and while it may not be perfect, it brings the franchise closer than its ever been to competing with CoD, and also stands as a testament to how far mobile game development has come in such a short amount of time.

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Story

Modern Combat 5 puts you in the roll of Caydan Phoenix, an ex-marine who was sent into Venice, Italy as a member of a special forces unit to combat an uprising in the area. Unfortunately the mission report was filed incorrectly and Phoenix was set-up to take a fall. After some investigation he learns that Gilman Security (the international secutiyu agency that sent his team into Venice in the first place) is operating as a front for a global terror consortium.

The story here is incredibly fleshed-out and has a lot of plot-twists, betrayal and in general just a lot more depth than we usually expect from a mobile title. Having such a fleshed out campaign in a mobile game is a rarity, and one that really helps Modern Combat 5 stand out from many other similar shooters on the App Store.

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Gameplay

Modern Combat 5: Blackout is a first person shooter designed from the ground up for the mobile platform. It takes a lot of inspiration from AAA titles like Call of Duty and Battlefield, and wears this inspiration on its sleeve. In the game’s campaign you will make your way through various maps, hiding behind cover, and gunning down enemy forces.

You have access to four different character classes that you can level up and customise. The classes are; Recon (quick action, uses a lot of pistols and SMGs), Sniper (uses sharpshooting to fell enemies from a distance), Assault (uses assault rifles and excels in medium-range combat), Heavy (Shotguns, RPGs and a master of close-range combat). Each class is levelled up independently of one-another. However, classes share loadouts and experience between the single and multiplayer game modes, so you can take practice until your heart’s content in single player, and move into multiplayer with a character that you are already well-versed with.

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Screenshot taken off an iPad 2

Unfortunately, Modern Combat 5 suffers from some control issues. As you would expect from a mobile game, it uses on-screen thumbsticks and buttons to move and shoot. The game has 3 built-in control options, and many of them have the left side of your screen allows you to walk forwards/backwards/left/right and the right for looking and turning around corners. Movement is pretty fluid and you can alter the sensitivity to your liking. However the buttons for shooting, zooming (when using a sniper rifle) and throwing a grenade are all mapped to the right side of the screen, so it is impossible to properly look around without firing wildly into a crowd. There are

There are some additional control settings like aim-assist and auto shoot that when enabled do fix up a fair amount of the issues  make the process a little bit easier, but I still felt that the game’s controls were a little clunky. Some of that could be attributed to the large screen size of the iPad, and playing on a smaller device such as an iPhone or even an iPad air might help alleviate some of the issues I had when playing.

The game’s multiplayer is incredibly robust and covers all of the game modes that you would expect from the genre. Free-For-All, Squad Battle, Team Battle, Capture the Flag and V.I.P are all here. You can join up with your friends for Squad Battle, and your Squad will go into battle against opposing squadrons for supremacy (in contrast, Team Battle pairs you up with strangers, or a couple of friends in a party). Even with an average connection the game ran as smooth as silk for me and I was able to enjoy every heart-pounding minute.

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Visuals & Audio

As far as mobile games go, Modern Combat looks incredible, presuming you are running the latest hardware. playing on an older generation iPad meant that I didn’t get to experience the highest quality visuals that the game can produce. However, that doesn’t mean that I was disappointed. Despite being older hardware, Modern Combat 5 still looked amazing. The game’s maps are littered with well-defined objects, and all of the character models look really detailed. Having seen the game in action on newer iPads however, there is a marked difference in visual fidelity.

Although visual fidelity is important, it isn’t the be-all and end all of gaming. The frame-rate for Modern Combat is really impressive. There were only a few times during the single player campaign where I suffered any frame-rate drops, and even so they were for a couple of seconds tops before the game returned to its smooth, buttery framerate. Multiplayer was equally as smooth, and I had no troubles playing against people all over the world, not once suffering any performance issues.

While the game’s visuals are impressive, the audio doesn’t quite reach the same lofty heights. Not to say that the audio is sub-par in anyway, but it really is just what you expect from an FPS game; the majority of the sound-effects (ie: the sound of the guns firing) sound about as good as they do on any console title, which really creates a sense of parity. Where the audio falters however is in the game’s voice acting. While it is nice to have a fully voice-acted game, in the midst of the action it can be rather difficult to figure out who is screaming at a given time, and the acting itself feels dry and lifeless.

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Screenshot taken off an iPad 2

Overall

Modern Combat 5: Blackout is far from perfect, but it still manages to accomplish a lot of impressive feats. With its fleshed out campaign, rich multiplayer and amazing visuals, it stands to a testament to how far mobile gaming has come in such a short time. Not only that, but despite some wonky controls, it is by far the best FPS that I have played on the mobile platform. Since the experience for Modern Combat 5 can be different depending on what type of device you are playing on, we have two scores for the title. If you are playing on an iPad 2 (or other larger-screened device) then we rate the game a 7.5/10, but if you are playing the game on a more recent device, or one with a smaller screen, then Modern Combat is an absolutely solid title that can’t be ignored.

8-0-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

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