The best war game on iPhone so far.
The first Modern Combat, Sandstorm, surprised everyone by being pretty much a version of Modern Warfare on iPhone. We loved the first game, but can the sequel improve on this?
First signs are good. An impressive FMV movie sets the scene; downed helicopter, lone soldier in a hostile environment, all the usual. Then it’s straight into the action, no tutorial levels here. Rescued by a fellow soldier, you find yourself following him through hostile territory, running and gunning as enemies try their best to kill you.
Branching stories focusing on different groups of soldiers follow, as does a familiar feeling. There’s just no denying where Gameloft are taking their inspiration from, but that’s no bad thing considering how well loved the Modern Warfare games have become. The story is pretty engrossing too, it never feels like it’s simply there for show and you’re made to feel like part of a team of soliders, all working together.
A nice mix of game styles make each level feel fresh and different. One minute you’ll be running through the streets, shooting every enemy soldier in sight, the next you’ll be in a tank in the Middle East and then hiding in a jungle. There are some tense battles, a favourite being where you provide cover for an armoured jeep by finding your way across rooftops and checking your sniper sights, then face off against a tank with just a bunch of grenades while a group of terrorists attack you from behind.
Graphically, Gameloft are pushing the iPhone further with every game they make. Black Pegasus is no exception and it’s amazing that it all runs so smoothly for much of the time, despite the amount of action going on in the game. Levels are intricately designed despite the obviously linear nature of the game and the enemy soldiers look the part, even behaving relatively realistic when compared to many other iPhone games. Most surprisingly though, the game runs so well on older iPhones. 3GS and iPhone 4 have the edge and it’s obvious this game is pushing hard to make them work but from what I’ve played on a 2G iPhone the game doesn’t suffer too much in comparison.
Controls have improved considerably over the last game. It was one of the issues I had with the first Modern Combat, but since then Gameloft have learnt a lot from their other games and have created a nice set of options to suit everyone. The default option is left hand move and right hand look and fire, which worked well and provided a good alternative to the console twin analogue stick setup.
Multiplayer has grown too, there are now four different ways to play online from the standard Deathmatch mode to team modes and a great little game where you have to disarm a bomb in a given time limit. Local Bluetooth and WIFI are both supported and run without lag. Getting connected and finding a game is handled with a robust front end that improves on anything I’ve seen before on the platform.
One day Gameloft will incorporate Game Centre in to their games, it’s the only improvement I can think that Black Pegasus doesn’t already have. Yes, some people may complain that the levels are too linear but, given the genre and the strain an open world would put on the platform, it works well enough and there is some flexibility during battle to find cover or find your own way around the enemy’s flanks.
Enemy AI, although improved, could be better. They now duck and move around, trying to outgun you, but there are still too many moments where they just stand still waiting for you to fire at them. It leaves some room for improvement in the inevitable sequel but given that the game works on all platforms, rather than just the 3GS and iPhone 4, it’s probably as far as they can take it at the moment.
As an answer to Modern Warfare on the iPhone, Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus is a success. It’s a vast improvement over anything seen on the platform so far in the shooter genre. More importantly, it’s an engrossing and enjoyable game.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 9
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