Modern Combat 4 is the best FPS experience you’ll find on a mobile device.
Gameloft has long been known for taking established, popular franchises, and developing mobile games that could only be described as “heavily influenced” by the source material. But it’s hard to knock them for it; they consistently publish fun, well-produced titles, even if their games are lacking a bit in the creativity department. Gameloft is one of the biggest, most successful developers of mobile games for a reason, and they continue that streak with their newest release Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour.
Activision should just give Gameloft the Call of Duty license already. After the horrendous showing of Nihilistic Software’s Black Ops: Declassified on PlayStation Vita, it’s obvious that the franchise needs to be put in more capable hands. Similar to how N.O.V.A. 3 was a great, essentially unofficial Crysis 2 port, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour takes the tried-and-true army FPS formula and once again creates a compelling and engaging shooter for iOS and Android.
Modern Combat 4’s story revolves around a worldwide terrorist attack, and puts players in the boots of a handful of protagonists (and antagonists) as they attempt to save the planet for the fourth time. The story certainly won’t win any awards, but it’s cohesive and semi-coherent. I thought it was neat how you’ll at times replay segments through the eyes of a different party and see the other side of things. The dialogue, on the other hand, is downright hilarious at times. While the voice acting itself is generally quite decent, I actually got the feeling that the actors and writers were poking a bit of fun at the overdone genre in general.
The first thing you’ll notice about Modern Combat 4 is its stellar visuals. With each release, Gameloft has steadily improved their game engine graphically. Even on an iPod Touch 4G (which I tested it on), Zero Hour looks fantastic for a mobile game. I was impressed by the lighting effects and gorgeous environments, especially the Barcelona island setting. The iPad version practically looks like a console title. It even holds a pretty steady frame rate, which was a problem area for a few past Gameloft games like The Dark Knight Rises HD and The Amazing Spider-Man.
The gameplay mostly consists of standard FPS action, but it is broken up here and there with driving sections, unmanned robot sections, and other interesting mission-specific actions. The game’s touch controls work as well as I could expect, but I can’t help but long for a version of the MOGA controller for iOS- it made controlling mobile FPS games a dream. I feel as though the auto-aim should be a little more forgiving, at least for the small iPod Touch screen. Sometime’s I’d find myself lobbing grenades when I was just trying to aim, or shooting when I was trying to sprint, but it’s just the nature of the beast. It should be noted that Modern Combat 4 does offer the ability to resize and move buttons. This is appreciated, but no matter what there’s just too many buttons, and they get in the way of each other more often than not. They might be frustratingly unresponsive at times, but Modern Combat 4’s controls generally provide as good of an emulation of dual-stick gameplay as can be expected on a touch screen.
The multiplayer is very well done. With a host of features and mostly lag-free matches, Modern Combat 4 stands above every other multiplayer shooter on the App Store. After logging into your Gameloft Live account, you can access Ranked or Custom matches and start gaining XP. There’s nothing incredibly original here, which is true for the rest of the game, but you have your essential Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes, Capture The Flag, Zone Control, VIP, and more to keep you busy for a while. There’s not a huge selection of maps, and while they’re fun, hopefully Gameloft will add a few extra maps to Modern Combat 4 in the coming months. As is true for most multiplayer FPS titles, earning XP will net you awards like new weapons, attachments, perks, and more.
Overall, Modern Combat 4 is an enjoyable FPS experience and worth its $6.99 price point, especially with its large multiplayer component. Although it would seem better suited on something like the PlayStation Vita, iOS and Android gamers will surely have a blast with this title. It might even make them put down Black Ops 2 for a bit.