In today’s stagnant console game climate, the first-person shooter reigns supreme. From Call of Duty to Battlefield, the market is full to the brim with AAA FPSs, but they’ve never been able to fully make the jump to the portable platform successfully. Modern Combat 5: Blackout, Gameloft’s answer to Activision’s insanely popular Call of Duty franchise, doesn’t do anything innovative – in fact, it sometimes comes off as blatant rip-off of its console brethren – but it does old very well, and it is easily one of the best mobile first-person shooters on Android.
The first thing you’ll take note of while playing Blackout is the presentation. Blackout is a good looking game, complete with decent voice acting and some visually impressive set pieces. Particle effects and lighting all look top-notch and the game sometimes looks like it could be playing just fine on an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Buildings explode and crumble in debris as you visit different locales around the world and watch them go to hell, but I’ve never seen war look so good on my phone.
The game revolves around Cayden Phoenix, a framed special operative, trying to prove his innocence to the only woman he can trust – a woman in a bodysuit named Roux, and who would fail to trust a woman in a full bodysuit? What follows is series of explosions, gunfire and tough guy talk as you uncover the terrorist plot that framed Phoenix. The story is passable, but the gameplay is incredibly solid and has been perfectly tailored to short, intense playthroughs. Each chapter is broken up into sections and you must complete each to move on to the next chapter. While the main missions move the story along, there are also minigame-like challenges like sniping and breaching that mix up the games formula and add some variety to the game. Each of challenges can be completed in five minute chunks – ideal for your average mobile gamer.
MC5’s portability partly accountsfor why I like it so much. It’s so easy to pick up and play that I found myself sticking around for extended sessions. In the same way you can never have just one potato chip, the short bite-sized missions dragged me back again and again. For mobile games, this quality is a necessity, and Blackout does this perfectly.
Gameloft has also decided to strip Blackout of all in-app purchases – a feature that plagued the previous Modern Combat titles.
Blackout offers some impressive customization options. In addition to support for HID game controllers, attachments, guns and classes are unlocked by experience points that are gained by playing either single-player or multiplayer, and squad points can be earned and used to upgrade class-specific skills.
However, the real standout of the experience is the multiplayer mode. Blackout offers standard FPS game modes like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, while also offering clan matches in the form of Squad vs Squad, a mode that allows you to build a squad of your friends and take on other squads. The game also offers daily global challenges that you can complete for alone or in a squad for extra XP. Or you could just hang out in the global chat and scream, if you’re into that sort of thing.
All of this works very well assuming you have a stable internet connection. The game must be connected to the internet at all times, and not just for multiplayer. It’s definitely a slap in the face when you beat a tough story mission, only to receive a “reconnecting to network” message as a reward. It’s online-always approach is one major flaw in its otherwise solid design.
What’s amazing is how well it condenses its console counterparts. In fact, it does it so well that it might as well be called Call of Duty-lite. The touch screen controls mimic the two stick control style of the console and works really well. You can shoot, melee, crouch and zoom all with simple button presses, and it manages all this without having the HUD feel crowded. They really took the time to make sure that it feels just like it does on a console.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout, despite the generic title, is an impressive game – one that delivers all the bravado, action, stereotypical accents and quicktime events we’ve come to expect from a console FPS games, and serves it up in tiny, fun-size bites that can be enjoyed in four or five minute burst.While not particularly moving the franchise forward, Modern Combat 5: Blackout is still a blast to play.
A solid mobile FPS with nearly all the bells and whistles of its console counterparts.