“This is a spectacular and impressive shooter with generous single and multiplayer offerings. Shame about the characters.”£4.99
It’s no secret that Gameloft’s Modern Combat series tries to emulate the console/PC Call of Duty games, so we won’t dwell too much on comparisons. After all, there’s no way you can deliver anything like the same shooter experience on an iPhone you can on a PS3 or Xbox 360… is there? Well, no. But, in truth, with each new iteration of the series, Gameloft is edging ever closer to replicating that console experience on our little iOS devices, and Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation is the most impressive attempt yet.
Before we get onto the good stuff, we first have to air a grievance. In the promotional materials, we’re told that MC3 features ‘Triple A mission scripting’ and indeed the narrative is a rip-roaring adventure that sees terrorist forces from Russia and China actually invading US soil before trying to unleash a nuclear holocaust on the western world. Gripping stuff.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the dialogue. A few years back, when military first-person shooters were something of a novelty, games like Medal of Honor (released in 1999) seemed to have something profound and rather poignant to say about war, imbuing its characters with personality so that players would actually care about them and feel the loss when fatalities occurred.
Over time, testosterone has gotten the better of developers, and we’re now left with two-dimensional, stereotypical grunts who communicate through expletives and who, frankly, we’re not too sorry to see die in a hail of bullets. The nadir in MC3 comes when one of the soldiers is actually making sexually suggestive remarks to his jeep while he’s putting the key in it and trying to get it started. It’s all a bit lazy and clichéd.
But let’s get past that, because in terms of gameplay, MC3 is enormously impressive. First up is the storyline. It’s pretty epic, and to complement it there are some excellent set pieces to marvel at. From destroying bridges, to getting chased down by an attack chopper, skydiving onto an aircraft carrier and using thermal imaging to take out enemy operatives remotely from the air… there are frequent opportunities to have your gob well and truly smacked.
There’s plenty of variety between levels, too. From LA to North Korea and Pakistan, you’ll be called upon to attempt a number of different missions. Many are simply a case of wandering through the environments taking out the trash, but interspersed with these you have vehicle-based missions, the aforementioned aerial mission, escort duties, search and rescue, and demolition missions.
But it’s not just the grandstanding that impresses. Smaller improvements also add a great deal to the experience. Enemies are smarter this time around. Sure, there are still occasions when a bad guy will be standing around seemingly oblivious to the fact that your squad mate is right next to him. And ultimately, the formula pretty much consists of you entering an area and the bad guys homing in on you, but it’s done with more intelligence: taking up positions to make life difficult, sliding and diving to cover to evade attacks and even continuing to shoot at you after being felled.
Your character also has a number of moves at his disposal. As well as being able to crouch behind cover, he can sprint, which is useful for getting out of a tight spot, but renders firing your weapon impossible, so its not without its risks. And you can also slide to reach an area of cover more quickly, which can be the difference between life and death. And when it comes to killing the bad guys, there’s variety there, too. As long as you’re careful, it’s quite possible in a single area to stealthily stick a knife into a patrolling guard, and take out another couple, sniper style, before announcing your arrival proper with a boisterous spray of machine-gun fire.
And we’ve not even mentioned the deeply satisfying multiplayer offering. In short, MC3 is a game that, while slightly muscle-headed in its approach to character development, more than delivers when it comes to gripping, relentless and spectacular gameplay.