From the very first Modern Combat game, we saw through Gameloft’s ploy. After releasing several imitation versions of popular console games, like the God of War knockoff Hero of Sparta or GTA-like Gangstar, we could tell that Gameloft wanted their own version of Call of Duty for the iPhone. Turns out, this was a good bet. With each new iteration, Modern Combat has grown into a best-selling series, pushing the visuals and multiplayer further than anyone expected. Here’s our tribute to this highly successful franchise.
Modern Combat: Sandstorm
The first Modern Combat game was clearly meant to be a stand-in for Call of Duty. It had a fairly generic story– take the fight to terrorists in the Middle East– but the first-person shooter mechanics were unlike anything else on the App Store. Gameloft did an outstanding job of shrinking a console controller’s worth of moves down to the touchscreen, by allowing you to swipe to look around, and tap on the edges of the screen to run, duck, and zoom in your aim. Though the graphics don’t hold up well compared to the sequels, this was the FPS that started it all.
Key Quote: “The gaming experience in Modern Combat: Sandstorm is a great one. The controls are the best we’ve seen in an iPhone FPS, the graphics are beautiful, and there’s plenty of level variety. Sure, we’ve seen it all before, but not on the iDevice, and never for such a small price.”
Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus
For the sequel, Gameloft put a new emphasis on Modern Combat’s online multiplayer. With more matches, modes, and concurrent players, Modern Combat 2 set a new standard for online multiplayer in mobile games. Plus, like in Call of Duty, you could now earn experience points and upgrade your character by fighting other players online. The graphics received a big update as well, along with the AI and mission variety.
Key Quote: “Unlike the original Modern Combat, the multiplayer mode in this one doesn’t feel like an afterthought. In fact, it’s by far the best online mode we’ve seen in a Gameloft title to date.”
Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation
Modern Combat 3 had a memorable story: The US has been attacked by North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia, and you play as the lone soldier leading the counter-offensive. The campaign had a few faults, though, so we looked to the multiplayer mode to pick up the slack. Like in the second game, you could improve your character the more you played online, and in Fallen Nation, you could even call in airstrikes or scan for enemies if you got a solid run of kills.
Key Quote: “So if you’re into competitive or team-based online shooters, Modern Combat 3 is a rock-solid buy–it trumps every other iOS game out there. If you prefer sticking to single-player campaigns, however, you’ll probably want to wait until Gameloft inevitably drops the price to a buck in one of their regular sales.”
Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour
More than the previous Modern Combat games, Zero Hour featured huge environmental set-pieces for you to fight your way through. The opening scenes, where the President is kidnapped during a Hawaiian vacation, included vehicles and drone strikes in addition to the on-foot fighting. The multiplayer was evolved once more, to give players a greater degree of customization when it came to their gear. In our review, we called Modern Combat 4 the most Call of Duty-like FPS so far.
Key Quote: “Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour is yet another solid addition to the mobile FPS franchise. It sports a lengthy single-player campaign, top-notch multiplayer content, and enough changes and tweaks to make it a worthy purchase even to people who played last year’s model.”
Next week, we’ll be blasting Huggables and making rainbows appear when we talk about Battle Bears.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.