What do you want from a Modern Combat sequel? If it's more of the same, albeit shinier, gorier, and a little less coherent, then Modern Combat 5: Blackout won't disappoint.
There's no real deviation from the template here. Blackout bubbles over with action set-pieces, gruff military jargon, and more identikit goons to riddle with bullets.
The levels are sliced a little thinner, there's a few new modes dropped in, and there's a focus on character progression across the board.
But if you're looking for something fresh, something that innovates and plays around with the FPS template, you're going to find MC5 lacking. This is a concrete slab of a game, still beset by a lot of the clunkiness that hampered its predecessors.
The touchscreen controls are slippy and convoluted, the AI often leaves a lot to be desired, and the rhythm of slaughter rarely adds any new beats into play.
Don't get me wrong, there's still a huge amount of fun to be had here, and the multiplayer and loadout-tweaking are as addictive as you'd expect. But Modern Combat 5 isn't the evolution in touchscreen FPS gaming that the genre sorely needs.
You play stiff-necked military man Caydan Phoenix, who stumbles from gun fight to gun fight barking about private military concerns, drones, and how he's been set up.
This time around the flow of the single player levels is far more staccato. They're cut into chunks that last no more than a few minutes, and there are non-story missions to complete if you want to move on to the next section too.
You're poking Caydan around with the same combination of a floating stick and swipes as the other titles in the series. Again, there are a lot of buttons, and if you stick with the preset controls it's far too easy to accidentally toss a grenade when you meant to turn your head.
You can tweak things around, but finding a set-up that's comfortable and easy to use is pretty tough.
Stick it in him
In some sections of the game that doesn't matter too much. It's easy enough to duck behind a crate and take out nearby goons as they blast round after round ineffectually into your wooden hiding place.
But when you're playing against other humans you need to be able to turn your head, slide along the ground, and quickly snap into your iron sights without accidentally deploying a drone and hurling a grenade at your team.
The multiplayer maps are impressively large, and there's a real sense that they're the focus of MC5. The single player is almost a primer for the skills you're going to need to dominate the battlefield, and the crossover progression means your character transfers whole from one to the other.
There are some strange additions, from tiny levels that see you breaching rooms one-by-one, failing instantly if you lose a hostage or miss a single target, to missions that see you trudging back through finished story stages to clear out more bad guys.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout wears its inspirations on its multi-pocketed combat sleeves. From the special ops side missions to the pop-pop clangour of multiplayer, everything here has been done before on consoles.
But it's rarely seen on smartphones and tablets, and for that Gameloft deserves some credit. This might still feel like a game crowbarred onto a device it was never going to fit on, but it's probably the sharpest attempt yet at stuffing a Call of Duty-style experience into your phone.
There are niggles and frustrations, and the whole thing is just as daft and overblown as you'd expect from a AAA game. But there's bombast and spectacle here in spades, and a suite of multiplayer modes that will keep you playing for weeks if not months.
This isn't Modern Combat refined, it's Modern Combat polished and preened, and if you're looking for a polygon-heavy military man-blaster then it fits the bill nicely.
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