Modern Combat Blackout (Switch eShop) Review
There have been a lot of games released for the Switch, but very few of them have been first person shooters, sure we have had some awesome ones, but the overall count is quite low, so seeing Modern Combat, make the jump from mobile to Switch, was not only a surprise, but a welcome one.
Originally released back in 2014, the game follows the same story as its first release, you are Cayden Phoenix, a solider working for Gilman Security, one very large private military group. You are given a mission with fellow soldier Bull Taylor to head to Venice and take down a terrorist group that launched a cyber-attack, however once the mission is over things don’t add up. After signing a statement that was false, Cayden approaches another soldier, Roux, to get her help on what he thinks is going on, admitting that he signed false reports, as his daughter was threatened, Roux agrees to assist, but as she does a massive explosion occurs and knocks Cayden out. When he comes to, he is in a temple in the middle of Tokyo, which has fallen into a state of martial law, with armed raiders are looting and taking everything, they can, as they break into the temple, Cayden has to fight his way out, gather intel and prove what is going on.
The story is very basic, if you have seen any movies with a private military firm, you can understand where this is headed, but in all honesty, story has never been the strong part of the Modern Combat series. What has helped the series is the fact that these were decent shooters, for mobile devices at least, but with the jump to Switch, does that carry across, well the answer is yes. Shooting here feels quite good, the game even supports motion control, for when you are aiming down the sights of a gun, letting you get some precision shots off. The turning can be adjusted if it is not to your liking at the default setting, but I had no issue there, so even if you prefer things a set way, the game has the options for you.
When you are exploring the stages though, there is very little to do, but the worst part is the games length, at least for campaign missions, as most are over in minutes, with one barely hitting 60 seconds before it was done. Given its debut on mobile devices, a lot of people are used to shorter length experiences, which is all well and good, but with console gaming, people want more and here the game falls apart. As you have to select each mission from a menu, which also lets you choose a class for the mission, you can spend as much time in menu’s than you can in the mission itself. Making it worse though, is the few missions that are lengthier don’t have checkpoints, so if you die, you have to restart the entire thing, which when your mission is roughly 2 minutes in length, it is not so bad, but not when its far longer.
As you complete missions, you will earn xp, this is used to level up your character and with each level comes credits, which you can then use to purchase new looks and accessories for them, perfect for the games multiplayer. Each mission will have a suggested class loadout, assault, recon and so on, with each class, a main weapon is suggested, but you can swap them out if you want something else in your kit. As you use any weapon more and more, you will unlock new additions for that gun, meaning that as you use a weapon, you can unlock a scope, then silencer, extended mag and more, making that gun one that you can enjoy. As you unlock more classes, weapons and add-ons, you will likely spend a bit of time in the menu, checking out the stats of the weapons, such as fire rates, armour penetration and more, along with selecting the right modification for the upcoming mission. Each the options you unlock, also carries across the games multiplayer, which is interesting as if you are struggling to score the kills needed to achieve victory online, you can head back to the single player, level up and get better gear, before trying again.
Multiplayer is an odd one, as the game sports both online and local options, with local being just what you expect it to be, online offers up two, ranked and custom and things can get a little strange here. Custom lets you pick and choose all the different parts of the match, such as maps and game type, you can even make the match private, adding a passkey to it, to share with your friends around the world. If you really want to be specific you can even limit the levels of weapons allowed and even player classes, so no more heavy’s, the problem modifying anything to greatly, is that the game has not similar search options, so if your exact game is not what other people want, you will find no-one to play with. I also had issues finding any custom matches myself, with searches happening on multiple days, at random times, the game never loaded up any, thankfully there is the ranked battle, which is your basic deathmatch, though you can choose to play in free for all or team battle.
As you play in more multiplayer matches, you will earn more credits, which can be used to unlock loot crates, which in turn give you armour cores, modifiers to your character class. These cores can do things like reduce bullet damage by 3% or add burning damage to targets for a period when you shoot them. These cores modify the game enough, to keep things fresh and exciting, but thankfully never feel to over powered, that being said, as you get them at random, there are times you might feel cheated by what the game does give you, especially if you want a specific core.
The game, as I mentioned at the start, is now 5 years old and its age shows in the presentation, the game does not look bad, in fact it still has moments where it can look quite stunning. The issues with the presentation stem from the animations of the characters, both friendly and foe alike, with rough speech animations, clunky movement ones and beyond, they tend to look like they stepped out of a PlayStation 2 game. The levels themselves, thanks to their extreme shortness, pack a lot of visual effects into it, the problem is that with their length, you never get a chance to really explore what they are showing you, which means any visual differences from stage to stage are lost very quickly. Also, as the game takes place in only a handful of locations, for the story, you will see the same half-dozen locations used in a number of maps.
The audio is also not as good as it could be, again due to its mobile roots, there are a lot of audio tracks, voice more than anything that has some compression noise present and while it does not impact the gameplay at all, it sounds weird. The other issue is that while the guns sound decent, grenades, rockets and any explosions, sound weak, missing the usual boom and bass noise that we come to associate with that type of weapon or effect. In multiplayer, the sound has a nice effect where gun noises will echo around the stages, making it easier to ping enemies locations, the same lame effects from grenades and such are still present though. The game contains a score, but as the campaign levels are so short, I honestly can’t recall any piece of music that stood out above the crowd, in multiplayer, I ignored it completely, in lieu of staying on top of taking out the other players.
Modern Combat: Blackout is a solid addition to the Switch, but it would have been made far more appealing, had the levels been combined into a few 10-minute missions, rather than the two-dozen minute long ones. Multiplayer is fine but given how the game focuses on ranked over unranked/custom it feels quite shallow and even in ranked most matches only have a half dozen players.
If you want a shooter that has depth, there is plenty to enjoy here, the length sadly will make the experience end far
- Solid gameplay, enhanced with the use of motion aiming
- Plenty of customisation options
- Missions that barely break a minute in length
- Multiplayer is fine, only if you stick to ranked, as custom is barren