Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour Review: Gorgeous Visuals, but Familiar Gameplay
If you’re one of those FPS fans who keep close tabs on what enters the App Store, then you know that the last few years have seen some huge steps forward for iPhone/iPad shooters. Whereas Gameloft was once one of the only developers who had something remarkable to offer, there are now quite a few alternatives that can match or exceed games like Modern Combat or N.O.V.A. in both visuals and gameplay… Still, Gameloft is sticking to their precious formula, and thus we’re taking a look at the fourth installment in the Modern Combat franchise.
Everything you’d expect is back this time around: countless weapons, huge explosions, dramatic cutscenes, global devastation, Tough characters, cheesy dialogue… It’s getting hard to know what to say about Modern Combat, since very little seems to change from year to year. In MC4, the story revolves around good guys and terrorists, and in perhaps the biggest twist to hit the franchise, you actually get to take turns playing as characters on either side of the war. It’s a nice wrinkle in the well-worn plot—but that semi-compliment is the only grace we’re going to give the writing and story creation of MC4. See, for the most part, this is Gameloft at their worst. The heroes and villains are as cookie-cutter as possible, and the lines uttered from their mouthes lack even a bit of inspiration. At one point, no kidding, a soldier happens upon some chaos and says, “This situation isn’t going to unf*ck itself.” Only from a Gameloft game…
Okay, so Modern Combat still isn’t going to turn any heads for it’s story lines, but what’s new… Luckily, the visuals of MC4 are more than enough to make the game playable. The people at Gameloft might not be able to write their way out of a paper bag, but they can certainly keep pace with the most modern advancements in iOS graphics—in fact, they’re pretty much setting the bar with MC4. Whether you’re clearing out dark corridors or storming beachfront property, the colors shine, the explosions glare, and everything runs as smoothly as you’d hope.
What’s great is that those visuals also apply to MC4’s multiplayer, where no other game elements matter but you and those you’re up against. After introducing multiplayer several installments ago, Gameloft has been able to refine the experience and make it hold up as truly the best available. With a complete specialization system and 12-player combat, they are continuing to legitimize FPS gaming on iPhone/iPad.
There is not much to note when it comes to the control settings available in MC4. I think we all agree that the whole virtual joystick thing is flawed, but nobody has come up with something better as of yet, so it’s what we’ve got… At least Gameloft provides the option to move and resize buttons on the screen, which allows you to make the most out of the less-than-ideal situation you get when playing a shooter on a touch screen. The gyroscope option is also still hanging around, and while it probably won’t ever replace the joysticks, it’s as cool as it ever was.
The bottom line for round 4 of Modern Combat is the same as it has been for the last few years—not worth it for the campaign alone, but the gold standard for multiplayer. So, depending on what you’re looking to get from the installment, consider yourself informed… It’s no surprise that we find ourselves in this situation—pleased with some aspects, but unable to endorse the game as a complete package. Maybe someday Gameloft will get some new writers and there will be more to Modern Combat, but as it stands, multiplayer is the one reason you should keep buying these updates.
Our Score: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars