Earlier this week we got hands-on with Modern Combat 4, the newest entry in Gameloft’s mobile take on 21st century warfare.
The game is still very much in development, so we were only able to check out the very first mission of the campaign mode.
Taking place not long after the events of Modern Combat 3, you are immediately thrown into an epic battle echoing that of the D-Day landings, only with hovercraft and UAV’s. Along with your team, you must infiltrate an installation that has come under the control of a band of mercenaries that look to be aiding an unknown force in a coup.
Much like previous Modern Combat games, this first level acts as a tutorial of sorts, allowing you to familiarise yourself with the controls and your surroundings.
According to Gameloft, the controls have been tweaked to make it easier to quickly react to any given situation. I didn’t notice this a huge amount in this demo level, but in terms of moving to and from cover it showed improvement. Apart from that though, the controls are essentially the same as before. But, being that MC3′s controls were the best v-sticks out there, then that’s no bad thing.
Your soldier seems better kitted out this time around, including a handy rugged laptop in his knapsack. From here you can call in an airstrike and even pilot drones. In one scene in this first mission you get to use a ground-based drone to scout ahead and take out the enemy threat. It’s a shame it was on rails, but you could fully let loose with attached gun turret. Expect to see – and be able to use – more futuristic weapons and vehicles this time out.
The Modern Combat series hasn’t been known for good enemy AI in the past, and unfortunately things didn’t seem much improved – though it’s too early to tell. The enemy is tough and puts up a good fight, but they do tend to amble about in full view as they look for cover – giving you ample time to take them out. Your squad mates fair better though, and at times actually seems helpful instead of getting in the way.
Graphically, Modern Combat 4 will once again wow players with the sheer amount of action on an iOS screen. In the opening scene alone there’s smoke, fire, water, dust, dirt and debris everywhere. It seems like Gameloft are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at this game, in a bid to out-do even their own games, such as NOVA3 and MC3. Locales do seem less gritty though, with more of an exotic ‘Just Cause’ look to things. Having said that, I’d rather run around a palm tree lined beach than a grey and murky Eastern European village.
Despite being used for Wild Blood, those expecting Gameloft to finally let the Unreal Engine loose on their first person shooters will be disappointed. However, they won’t be just using their old engine either, as for the first time Gameloft are implementing the Havoc physics engine into their graphics pipeline.
Havoc has been used in many AAA titles over the years, with highlights being Half Life 2, Crackdown and Skyrim. Here, it finally allows for rag-doll physics to be applied to characters to give them far more realistic movement, particularly in their death scenes. I witnessed an enemy fall to his death and break his back on a crate. Nice!
I was playing the game on an iPad 2, so I’ve yet to experience the game in retina resolution, or with the added horsepower of the new iPad 4. I did notice some frame-rate drops however, though it is common for unfinished code to be running without being fully optimised (and it is definitely unfinished, as I witnessed a bright pink, texture-less helicopter gunship sitting on a landing pad). So, i’ll give Gameloft the benefit of the doubt on that one, even though with the iPad Mini being an iPad 2 under the hood, it’s certainly something that many iOS users will be keeping a close eye on.
Sound, as usual, aims to pack as much punch as the visuals. The voice acting won’t win any oscars of course, but with all the explosions and gun fire, you may not be able to hear it.
Modern Combat 4′s campaign is shaping up to be another bombastic experience on the AppStore in the coming weeks. It’s another great example of Gameloft pushing the iOS hardware to attempt to deliver a console like experience to quench our hardcore iOS gaming thirsts.
The campaign of course, is – quite literally – only half the story. As with many first person shooters on consoles, it’s often the multiplayer part of the game that is the first port of call for players – with the campaign mode seen as an added bonus. It’s no different with Gameloft’s MC3 and NOVA3, and MC4 promises to deliver even more in the multiplayer stakes than before, with an improved load-out system, perks and even voice chat. Look out for our multiplayer thoughts soon.
Modern Combat 4 is due for release sometime during the remainder of this year. Stay Tuned!
UPDATE: New screens!