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Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus Review: The Best Multiplayer Shooter For iOS

Like rumors of the iPhone on the Verizon network, the release of a new Gameloft clone is hardly news anymore. We’re hardly surprised when they rip all the secrets of success from major console titles and bring them straight to our iPhones. Instead, I look forward to each game, as they rarely disappoint. Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus is no exception. It’s unoriginal, rehashed, looks familiar, and is more fun than 90 percent of the games in the App Store. But it’s the multiplayer that really make this terrorist-hunting FPS noteworthy. Despite no Gamecenter support (which is becoming increasingly important as the young network proves itself), multiple game modes, XP meters, unlockables, and incredibly fluid gameplay mean that Black Pegasus has set the bar for future efforts in the App Store.

There is little to mention when it comes to story. If you’ve played Modern Warfare 2 (and who hasn’t?), you’ll instantly recognize the way the plot is structured. You’ll be placed in the shoes of a few different characters as you undertake a globe-spanning journey to hunt down various terrorists and climb your way to the top targets. I took issue with how MW2 presented its story on consoles, and these exact same issues arise here since Black Pegasus is a direct clone. The story is disjointed, loosely structured, and ultimately leaves you uninvolved.

But let’s face it, nobody is downloading this game for $6.99 and expecting a Pulitzer-award-winner of a story. Once you’re dropped in the action, it’s the gameplay that matters. And Black Pegasus is entirely successful on that count, adding some great cinematic moments that make the whole experience kind of incredible considering the platform . . . The controls will feel familiar right away, especially if you’ve played the first installment (or N.O.V.A. for that matter). It’s a dual-stick, first person shooter with all the trappings. Though the placement of each icon is customizable, the defaults will have you moving your feet with the stick in the bottom left, and firing/selecting grenades/aiming with icons in the bottom right. Touch anywhere on the screen and drag to adjust where your gun is aiming.

Since there’s no doubt that we’ve played titles with this exact same scheme multiple times, our attention quickly moves to the game’s appearance . . . From the temple scenes to the snow-covered Russian tundras, everything has improved. Retina Display or not, the graphics are sharper, and Gameloft has done some neat things with lighting on many of the stages, resulting in an impressive assortment of settings that will have you saying “wow” more than a few times. However, issues with pop-ups still occur frequently, and finding a way around that obstacle with expansive settings like these would seem to be the next hurdle for Gameloft and others.

Turrets, stealth, quick-time sequences, and sniping all add enough spice to make the solo campaign definitely worth playing. But Black Pegasus’s replay value comes from the multiplayer, which represents a huge stride forward for iOS gaming. At risk of overdoing the comparison, this is the exact same experience you get from MW2 on Xbox or PS3, and that’s saying something. The ranking system is fully developed and could easily eat up days of your time once you’re hooked. Whether you play team battle, capture the flag, or simply “kill them all,” you won’t be disappointed. It’s the best multiplayer FPS you can take with you on the go.

Now we return to the biggest detraction from Black Pegasus. Couldn’t Gameloft put in the effort to at least attempt originality? Admittedly, this is more of a missed opportunity than a flaw. All the ingredients are here, and with a little creativity, the developer could be onto something even bigger than what they’ve got . . . But that’s not going to keep me from returning to this game. Once you learn the controls and get up to speed (tapping and swiping quickly enough to beat someone to the shot can be challenging at first), the amount of fun you can have with this game is amazing. Again, Gameloft has succeeded to a high enough degree that any complaints are secondary. Download Black Pegasus and enter the fray, and do it soon, or the rest of us will be way ahead of your embarrassingly low ranking. And with a game this good, that just won’t do.

Our Score: 4/5


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