Modern Combat 5: Call of Duty meets Micro-transaction Greed

I guess the game’s alright after all.

A few days ago – or possibly last week, I can’t remember – I finally finished Gameloft’s Modern Combat 5 running on my iPad Pro. I had played the game quite some years ago when it was really popular, but that hype has fizzled out and after seeing it in the App Stores’ Recommended bin, I decided to give it another go. It clearly showed me that it was on life support.

What is Modern Combat 5?

So, what is Modern Combat 5? It’s the latest “main” installment in the Modern Combat franchise. The best way to describe that is take the Call of Duty formula, put it into chapters. Then, throw in way too many advertisements and an “energy” system that prevents players from trying to brute-force their way through the story (more on that later). Then micro transaction the fuck out of it. Bake in the oven for a while and dinner is served.

The annoying chapters…

The chapter system is simply that, for example, one chapter is about escaping from a French? Italian? city and you have a number of “segments” you need to clear.  Instead of it being one big long mission like Call of Duty, it is broken into chunks.

Another example of this is one segment is to reach a certain location, then the next is an on-rails ambush, then finally back to the original game type. You must clear each segment in order to progress.

It works for most part, but the game eventually ramps up the requirements to progress onto the next chapter. For example, by the time you get to Chapter 3, one of the requirements is to have all 3 stars from Chapter 1 and 2. Yes, each segment has 2 sub objectives, ranging from don’t get critically low health to get 3 Multi-Kills. You get one star for each objective.

I actually paid for some credits (called Eagles) to be able to skip the extra requirements after I had beaten the main segments of that chapter. I hated myself for doing so, but at least I had App Store credit to cover it.

Where we’re headed, we’ll need batteries…

Oh, and before I forget – that Battery system? Yeah, so about that… each time you attempt a segment or a side-mission (Special Operation as they’re called), it uses Energy. Mission “energy usage” can range from 1 segment to 4 segments of the bar.

This is usually around 8 – 10 (I think?) bars until the Energy is depleted. You either can watch an advertisement (which didn’t work) or buy a refill (10 Eagles). Of course, wait 10 – 20 minutes and your energy is refilled by one segment.

Towards the end of the game I just said fuck it and burnt my credits, I was getting over the game and just wanted to beat the darn thing.

The Meat and Potatoes

Gameplay wise, it feels like a bootleg Call of Duty, as with any other Gameloft game. It’s polluted with annoyances like advertisements and the stupid gatcha is super aggressive.

The Gunplay is alright, but it feels a little off at times and while back when it was released the animations and particle effects were probably “pretty good”, I can clearly tell they’re dated.

Animations seem pretty okay, there wasn’t any major issues. Some animation clipping was observed. There’s also an IK positioning error on the lobby screen where your solider seems to have one arm going through the under-barrel of the weapon.

Enemy AI can be cheap and pick you off randomly or shoot through a wall, for example. Luckily I haven’t seen much of that but I did encounter a famous AI path finding issue where it was walking around in circles, like a failed patrol sequence.

When you do die, you are offered to revive on the spot if you have Eagles available, otherwise you get a YOU DIED screen. Reviving on the spot was useful in some missions because I didn’t feel like starting them over.

There was one glitch that broke a mission for me, which was that some controls were enabled during a scripted cut scene. This caused the game to operate in error when I was half-way through a segment, as the HUD did not reflect the current game state – I wasn’t in a helicopter, I was on the ground, but the helicopter HUD was still enabled. I think I managed to fix it somehow, but I don’t remember how. Just another “how did that pass quality control?!” moment.

Conclusion

If you want to see what a decent Call of Duty bootleg is like, then this is a decent game. However, it does spit in the face of it’s ancestor, Modern Combat 4. Modern Combat 4 felt like Modern Warfare on mobile, but with micro transactions.

While Modern Combat 5 won’t win any awards from me, it was fun and I enjoyed it. Even with all its annoyances.

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