Modern Combat: Sandstorm
185 MB

Modern Combat: Sandstorm places you in the boots of an “Chief” returning to war after an injury. The game starts off with a helpful tutorial, and then quickly throws you into what becomes a confusing and fast-paced adventure through the middle east. I’ll get it out right now: this is a dubiously short adventure, with the campaign completed on normal difficulty in about 3 hours. However, playing on hard is quite challenging, and I can’t imagine what frustrations “extreme” will bring to the table.

When I say the higher difficulties are tougher, I don’t mean that the AI is better. There really isn’t much in way of AI at all in Modern Combat. Basically, all the enemies have scripted paths to take when you approach them. An enemy may knock down table for cover (although they’re just as easy to kill), but he will do the exact same thing if you replay that room. During scenes of continuous battle, enemies will keep spawning and taking the same scripted paths over and over again. This is especially present during the classic FPS “mounted turret moments”, where you sit at a turret and mow down oncoming terrorists. Since you know where they are coming from, you can have the gun ready as they emerge. This is the case for every fight, so there are very few surprises in the game, which is extremely linear.

The graphics are ridiculously good, as you can see by the screenshots. Gameloft has something to be really proud of in this 3D engine. The textures are crisp, and look great close up. The gun models and reloading/first-person character animations are awesome. The guns feel good for the most part, with a nice variety at your disposal for most later levels due to handy, unexplained weapons crates lying around. Sometimes the weapons feel extremely under-powered, but that may be due to the game not detecting hits properly all the time.

Another thing that Gameloft nailed is the controls, which uses an extended version of the Terminator: Salvation scheme (if you have tried that). Everything feels accessible and logical. My one complaint (which isn’t exactly with controls), is how slow you move when you are using iron-sight view to closely aim. If you do this, and want to quickly run away, you feel like you’re moving through tar. I can see the reasoning behind steadying the aim, but it still is really slow. Still the auto-aim helps out a lot, as well as auto-grenade that lets you lob grenades at targets without needing to do much aiming. All of this can be turned off via options for hardcore players. There are also two other control schemes for you to try just in case the first doesn’t work for you.

The sound effects are pretty good, with good use of left and right channels for those playing with headphones. Unfortunately, the music is pretty cheesy for the most part, and feels quite forced. There is music going on during pretty much the entire game, which just doesn’t really fit in certain situations.

One of the things I found frustrating throughout playing Modern Combat is the checkpoint system. It doesn’t seem there are very many of them. So playing for 10-15 minutes and then dying would often mean I started all the way back where I started. Even worse, the game does not save your progress mid-mission when you get a call or have to quit to the homes screen! I’m quite surprised that a company like Gameloft forgot to add this feature, but it pretty much means to enjoy the game you need to have your phone in airplane mode to ensure you don’t get a call.

Now if you look at the game as a whole and not just at certain features it is magnificent. So even though it seems as though much of what is being said is quite negative, the negative aspects are actually a small part of the game, and may not be noticed by some players. Modern Combat: Sandstorm is a very well done game and includes some of the best graphics and controls available on the iPhone and iPod Touch. If you are looking for an amazing FPS for your device, this is definitely the game to pick up.

9/10 - For linear gameplay, but great graphics.

EDIT: New multiplayer update is out! This brings both local wi-fi and online multiplayer making this game even better. You have the options to change the map, kills needed, time limit, if you regenerate health, etc. You also have the options to choose between four classes including infantry, close range, long range, and heavy gunner. This update is great except for some bugs not allowing you to play sometimes, however when you do play, it makes up for those bugs. I suggest that if you have not yet gotten this game, you get it NOW!

UPDATED SCORE: 9.5/10 - For still linear single player gameplay, but great graphics and online multiplayer.

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