Bringing the action home
When reviewing Gameloft’s Modern Combat games the temptation is always there in the back of my mind to compare them directly to Activision’s Modern Warfare series. It’s fair to say that Gameloft have been heavily influenced by the series, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is still a portable iOS game.
So looking at Modern Combat 3 as an iOS game, how does it stack up against other shooters? Well, it’s definitely Gameloft’s best so far in this genre, easily surpassing N.O.V.A 2 and Modern Combat 2 in looks. The set pieces are possibly the best example of how to pull off a blockbuster game on the format and give the consoles a run for their money in terms of spectacle. Everything feels solid in the game world, from the walls that provide cover to the massive explosions on the battlefield and crumbling masonry as RPGs and tank fire take their toll.
It’s also more varied than previous entries in the series. While Modern Combat 2 took you on brief excursions in tanks and across desert, the third game revels in gunships, targeting from a plane and forest levels, interspersed with the usual heavily built up city areas.
The graphics do a good job of rendering these new landscapes and move at a fair pace, even with many enemies on screen. The retina display comes in to play again to enhance the detail further and players using newer hardware will really benefit from the difference.
That’s not to say things are perfect on the graphics front. There are times that it all gets too much, even on an iPhone 4S, and screen tearing or glitching occur. More noticeable are the bugs in the cover option, where a solid wall can seemingly provide no cover for a stray enemy bullet. It doesn’t happen all the time and it’s not a huge issue overall, but with the production values being higher it’s far more noticeable when bugs like this occur.
The storyline is the usual stuff of pulp war fiction; several countries have banded together to form an alliance and attack the US, leaving your soldiers to fight on home turf against a more familiar backdrop. It serves its purpose well enough but won’t be winning any Oscars for screenplay.
Voice acting is fairly good throughout when compared to other iOS titles and the music score adds a good sense of epic scale to the war without overstaying its welcome. Commands from your AI comrades work well and act as another pointer for moving through the levels.
Options for three different control systems should appease most players, though no FPS is going to feel completely at home on a touchscreen. The gyroscope can even be used on devices that support it. Having played around with this I can certainly see the advantage if you can adjust it to your liking and get used to moving the screen around to aim. Only on iPad did I have an issue with some of the control options, namely using one half of the screen to aim and shoot and the other to move. There seemed to be a large space between the shoot and aim on one side and the move and sprint on the other on the larger screen. It’s worth persevering, though, as the iPad really shows off the game in the best possible detail. Those with an iPad 2 and Apple TV can also take advantage of playing it on the big screen using Airplay.
The single player campaign is the most complete experience yet and AI has been improved yet again. That said, it’s still not at the stage where AI can be compared to a full blown console game and enemy soldiers will often sit behind cover rather than trying to out-manoeuvre your troops, respawning in exactly the same place every time you play.
Multiplayer, though, is far more impressive. With new features, such as airstrikes, making an appearance and stats enabling assists this feels like a much improved online experience. Gameloft have chosen to add some in-app purchases with weapon attachments, which may come in for some flak from players who want to level up rather than spend their way to success. You can, however, earn these from in-game actions and those with skill will soon begin to unlock the extras to level the playing field.
But I know some of you may still want to know how this game compares to console shooters and, while it still can’t reach the lofty heights of Modern Warfare, this is the closest you will come to playing a true FPS on iOS. The multiplayer in particular is the highlight of the package and compares well to a console setup, thanks to Gameloft’s own Gameloft Live service.
Modern Combat 3 isn’t perfect but, given the scale of the game Gameloft have created, it’s not surprising. I can safely say that this is the best shooter yet on iOS and if you’re in any way a fan of the FPS genre, particularly if you own an iPhone 4S or iPad 2, this should be on your list of Apps to own.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 10
- Longevity: 10
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