If you're craving innovation, the latest game in a series created as Gameloft's answer to Call of Duty is the wrong place to look, but its lack of ambition doesn't preclude Modern Combat 5: Blackout from being one of the best mobile first-person shooters going.
If Activision weren't so protective of their property and Metal Gear hadn't already swiped the subhead, Call of Duty: Portable Ops would have been a much better name for Modern Combat 5: Blackout. With story missions sliced up into four or five minute chunks, side missions that play out like sniping or breaching mini-games and quick multiplayer matches, this is the ultimate quick-fix first-person shooter. There's no activity here that can't be completed in the span of a bathroom visit or a smoke break.
Oddly enough, being so easy to put down makes it incredibly difficult to stop playing Modern Combat 5. Over the past couple of weeks the game's barely left my side. I've played it on my iPad Mini, Nvidia's new Shield Tablet — I've even got it loaded on my massive red Nokia Lumia 1520 Windows Phone. I'm almost playing it more than Deer Hunter 2014, which is saying a lot.
What doesn't say a lot is Modern Combat 5: Blackout's story. As with just about everything Modern Combat related, the narrative is pieced together from other games in the military shooter genre. The player's character, Phoenix, is involved with a private military company that's somehow betrayed him, and now the only person he can trust is his supervisor, Commander Bodysuit.
Or Roux. I guess it's Roux. Anyway, betrayal, evil intentions, cyber attacks — at one point Phoenix says "Don't you see, Roux? They're trying to start fucking World War 3!" I hope I haven't spoiled anything. The point is yeah, there is a story, but it's not really worth caring about.
Better to concern yourself with choosing your loadout class and earning experience to unlock new perks, weapons and accessories.
Or going through every story, Spec Ops and multiplayer mission on the map in order to unlock further mayhem.
Maybe you want to participate in daily global challenges, where getting the most headshots or multiplayer wins during a certain time span can score extra experience points. Or join a squad and take on challenges as a group. Or just hang out in global chat and make a nuisance of yourself.
There's plenty to do — just make sure you've got a stable internet connection while you do it. There's nothing like getting to the end of a tough story mission and getting the "reconnecting to network" message. It's the game's one major failing.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout is a game that's takes the best bits of console military first-person shooters, chops them up into tiny pieces and serves them to players on those cute little appetizer trays. It's less a full meal and more of a party with all-you-can-eat hors d'oeuvres. You'll never be quite as sated as you would with a 'AAA' console or PC release, but you'll never go hungry.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Developer: Gameloft
- Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows 8.1
- Price: $6.99