When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was released in 2007, it was clear that the First Person Shooter genre had been redefined by one of the most amazing games of the generation. And naturally, there were instantly a huge number of similarly-titled cash-ins which hoped to take a slice of the interest that surrounded the game.
Of course, I’m not saying that this was the case with Gameloft, but as you boot up Modern Combat 2, it’s difficult not to be reminded of home console best-seller. Mission loading screens have a near identical look and feel, the cut-scenes before the mission begins are told from a first person perspective with team mates talking to you, and when you are dropped into the actual levels, you can look down the sights of your gun in way not unlike Modern Warfare.
However, this isn’t a bad thing. Oh no. Rather than taking a popular game, copying it poorly and selling it well above its value, Gameloft have spent time on this. The controls feel solid, and are entirely customisable to match whatever set-up you like. You can move buttons to where you want them on the screen and use a number control schemes to find your perfect match. While there will always be problems when playing FPSs on an iPad due to the weight, the amount of tweaking that can be done to Modern Combat 2 alleviates this problem rather well.
The graphics are also incredibly pleasing on the eye. While they are, of course, around the level of a PS2 game from back in the day, they look great on iPad, and the number of animations on show is really impressive. Everything looks smooth and moves well, and we can’t think of an occasion where something went majorly wrong and ruined the illusion. Bullet casings fly out of your weapon, blood flies out of enemies when you hit them, and when you get a one-hit headshot the action slows down and zooms in to show the bullet hitting home. It’s pretty gruesome, but as a reward for a great shot it’s a nice addition.
The story is standard fare for this type of game – protecting a car in dusty Middle-Eastern roads, capturing the leader of a terrorist cell, and storming an off-shore oil platform base. All cutscenes are told from that first-person perspective, and the animation is surprisingly good. Facial expressions look great and textures are clean enough, and in motion the whole thing moves brilliantly. The nature of the story, as with the COD series, will have you jetting all over the world to a wide variety of locations, meaning you’re unlikely to become bored. There’s a good mix of corridor shoot-outs and open spaces, and the missions vary from sniping to stealth.
Weapons-wise we were impressed. We expected a limited number of guns, with most feeling the same to shoot. Instead, you get a huge range of rifles, shotguns, pistols and sub-machine guns, and for the most part they all have an individual feeling so you will almost certainly have a favourite by the end of the game. The down-the-sights view also works well, with more advanced weapons really benefitting from the extra precision, while guns like the AK-47 jump and kick to stop you getting any accuracy if you fire more than a single shot. It adds a little tactical thought to proceedings, and you’ll want to think carefully about what weapons you pick up, as you can only carry two. The button to actually activate the down-the-sights view is a little difficult to reach in its default position, but again, it can be moved to a more comfortable position.
What really impressed us, though, was the multiplayer area of the game. You can play over the internet with random people, or on local Wifi or bluetooth if you want to play with your friends. Up to ten people can play in a game and there are five available maps offering close-quarters and open-space warfare. There are four game modes included – a standard deathmatch and team deathmatch, a Capture the Flag mode, as well as a Defuse the Bomb set-up. As you play you gain experience for kills and assists(unsurprisingly in a similar way to COD: Modern Warfare). As you gain experience you will level up, unlocking new Kill Signatures and a whole range of new weapons. You can change weapon in the armoury after you die – what’s great is that some work better on certain levels but perform poorly on others, meaning you have to think about your choice.
We’ve had a blast on this game in multiplayer mode. Lunchtimes in the office were once relatively quiet, but now are filled with cries of rage and victory. It’s a great laugh, and we’ve had no problems with lag at all. There were a few glitches with rejoining the game after death, but a quick Press-Home-and-reopen-app system quickly got us back in without too much hassle. It’s a shame that this mars an otherwise excellent multiplayer experience, but it’s not enough to stop us from playing it every day.
Fantastic Graphics, customisable controls and stunning multiplayer action make this a game to remember
Slight thumb pain after extended periods of play, some small problems connecting to games in multiplayer