Preview | Modern Combat Domination Hands-On
Format: PS3 | Genre: FPS | Publisher: GameLoft | Developer: GameLoft | ETA: 2011
Andreas Varotsis gets his hands on tactical shooter MODERN COMBAT DOMINATION.
AT THE beginning of time, when there was nothing but darkness in the First Person Shooter world, the great gods of gaming looked down from their pixelated fortresses, and they were sad, for there was no shooting to be had. So they populated the land with First Person Shooters of all shapes and sizes, all forms and colours. There was Wolfenstein and Spasim, Quake and Unreal Tournament, Goldeneye and Half-Life. These games bore children, and their children bore further children, and it was good.
In this quasi-imaginative world I’ve hastily put together, Gameloft are the mad scientist. They’ve taken the best from all of the FPS’ gun-toting tots, and spliced them into a shambling monstrosity that’ll be appearing on PSN towards the end of the year for less than a tenner. Tempted yet?
My first utterance upon playing the 16 player, tactical team based shooter was something along the lines of “Gee-wiz, this is a lot like Counter-strike”. Well, maybe not quite that bad, because I’m not a 13 year old American youth from the 1950s, but that was the general gist of it. As a long time PC gamer, it’s hard not to see the relics of Half-Life community’s masterpiece all over Modern Combat. If you’re on the terrorist team, one of you needs to carry the activation key to a set of missiles, and activate them, defending them until launch – and the counter-terrorists have to stop them. Win and you’ll be granted cash to upgrade your ammunition, but lose, and you’ll quickly find yourself ill-equipped to take on a superior force.
If it sounds familiar, that’s because, largely, it is – and that’s by no means a bad thing. You’ll still flail aimlessly if you try to spray and pray, and the fact that you’ll be excluded from play until the end of the round upon death means the tension never quite stops piling on. Like its progenitor, you’ll play as a cohesive team, or be mercilessly annihilated – a fact me and my fellow journalists quickly grasped once we’d lost a few rounds in a row and were faced with the daunting prospect of taking on a team that now had far superior weapons. Unjustified machismo and a pistol will only get you so far in this cruel world. It’s something of a harsh realisation after being spoilt by the flood of endlessly forgiving public games of Call of Duty and Medal of Honor.
Calling Modern Combat simply a updated port of Counter-Strike to the PS3 however, would be selling it rather short, as Gameloft have done an admirable job of updating the fundamentals for the Call of Duty generation. Obligatory experience points, and the progression and customisation they entail, will have your character slogging his way through 72 addictive levels of gun-totting awesomeness. Each will unlock some new customisation option to differentiate yourself from the myriad of other testosterone-filled grunts out there, from Kevlar vests to extra grenade types. Obligatory iron-sights are of course crucial to not smacking your virtual self in the face through sheer recoil alone, and the melee attack is mapped to its own button. If Modern Combat’s father is Counter-Strike, then its mother is Call of Duty – an unlikely union, but just like that freaky, unlikely fling with the girl next door, you may yet find out these kinks are worth sticking around for.
Perhaps the bravest departure of all from FPS convention is the reliance on Move – far from a useless gimmick, Sony’s glowing motion-wand provides a serious and viable alternative to our oft-used joy-pads. While I initially balked at the developers’ claim that the Move allowed for aiming that was just as, if not more accurate than a pad, a few rounds later, I was proudly holding my own. Sure, I may have looked like an over-excited thirteen-year-old waving a sex toy around, but with the sensitivity cranked up and some precise waggling, it proved to be a perfectly defensible way of playing the game. How that might hold up in competitive play is anybody’s guess, but I came out of our preview session holding my head high – for such an otherwise hardcore title, it’s a pleasant surprise.
From what I’ve seen so far, Modern Combat is full of those surprises. In a hardcore, tactical shooter aimed at the CoD obsessed masses, it looks like GameLoft is set to beautifully combine those two worlds, bring chaotic deathmatches and long-term progression and unlocks that’ll appeal to anybody who’s ever fought an online FPS. It also appears to offer smarter and tactical, team-based strategy that’s bound to lure over those hardcore gamers who find CODBlOps too common for their sophisticated tastes. The true test will be balancing the two sides of the coin: tactical play will be all but ruined if certain unlock combinations lead to any serious unbalances, and, even in a budget title like this, the legendary casual gamer-base will be expecting a serious amount of content. If Gameloft can walk that line, while keeping Modern Combat accessible to all at this price point, they may have a winner on their hands.