Ever since Activision’s runaway success with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, we’ve witnessed an onslaught of first person shooters that is still running strong. Though hardly ground-breaking in its premise, Modern Warfare launched at just the right time when console multiplayer was still in its infancy, immediately drumming up a fanbase that would carry the series its current power-selling status. Though we’ve seen a few iterations of the franchise appear on mobile and tablet devices, Call of Duty’s presence has been somewhat muffled by Gameloft and its very own FPS series, Modern Combat.
Similarities between the two are immediately apparent with bombastic set-pieces, stand-out visuals, and heart-racing multiplayer all accounted for. In Modern Combat 5: Blackout, you can expect pretty much the same though, compared to previous instalments, it feels far more suited to portable platforms.
Instead of lumping players with drawn-out singleplayer shooting galleries, the developer has broken these segments into smaller, bite size chunks which can be easily be blitzed in short five-minute bursts. These are complemented by a suite of “Spec Ops” challenges. These are of similar length, presenting players with mini objectives such as defusing bombs and gunning their way through slo-mo breach encounters. Although you’ll need to beat a set number of these to make headway in the singleplayer campaign, they are hardly an obstruction, providing the perfect amount of enjoyable relief between missions.
Blackout’s overall design may be well suited towards mobile and tablets yet the same can’t be said of its gameplay. Though refinements have been made with each passing iteration, touchscreen controls are still imperfect and unwieldy, even at the best of times. Thankfully, there are a slew of options available, allowing players to toggle features such as gyroscope, aim assist, and – my personal favourite – auto fire. Still, it’s no substitute for a gamepad, especially in an online environment.
Speaking of multiplayer, Modern Combat 5 offers the entire package, complete with a glut of game modes and maps. Furthermore, any experience gained online will allow players to rank up, the perks of which also carry into solo play and vice versa. These include a raft of upgrades, including weapon attachments and class-specific skills, boosting your in-game performance whether in multiplayer or tackling missions alone.
Having played countless games on my iPad over the past several months, another thing that really impressed me was Blackout’s performance. Despite the occasional dip in frame rate, the game holds up remarkably well and never crashed once, even with a handful of apps running in the background. On top of that, Modern Combat 5 hurdles even more mobile game pitfalls by forgoing in-app purchases and the usual bombardment of ads.
Blackout may carry a slightly heavier price tag yet it’s more than justified. Though console gamers can find their multiplayer kicks elsewhere, those limited to a tablet or mobile will no doubt find themselves hooked, especially if they can procure one of a growing selection of compatible gamepads.