Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation

Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation

Military combat evolved and improved for the iPad generation

As the military first-person shooter is in season on consoles, you’d be forgiven for taking one look at this thematically similar game from Gameloft Montreal and pass it off as another lacklustre wannabe. While Modern Combat 3 does share themes and features with the likes of Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, it has to be applauded for capturing the excitement, pace and destruction of those games, while cramming it into the iOS format and still managing to make it enjoyable.

In this instalment, the ruthless KPR military has invaded the USA, and is storming Los Angeles when protagonist Walker, a seasoned American officer, is sent to the frontlines to repel the attack. His performance in the game’s first few missions earns him a place in the shadowy Phantom team, a crack special ops unit tasked with infiltrating the heart of the KPR and bringing it to its knees.

You really get a sense of tension  and pacing throughout the plot, thanks to some superb visuals and stunning set-pieces. Buildings collapse, choppers rain fire on you from above, and KPR troops rush you from all angles. It all helps create an experience that never lets  up for a second.

The gameplay utilises a ‘twin-stick’ style in a way that is similar to shooters on consoles, with your left thumb moving the Walker, and the right controlling your aiming reticule. This works perfectly fine, although the rest of the buttons feel a touch awkward, as they are positioned below the movement areas. On a controller, the ‘shoot’ and ‘aim’ buttons are generally above the thumbsticks. Here, they are below, and it breaks the fluidity of combat at times. Stopping to lift your hand to see where the aim, crouch and sprint buttons are before tapping becomes a chore, and can result in clumsy deaths.

It’s a minor complaint, however, as  the use of auto-aim makes it easier to pick off enemies before they take you down first. Simply aim from the hip near an enemy, then tap the aim icon to lock on to the enemy’s chest. Squeeze off a few rounds, and you will take the attacker down with ease. Rather than make the game too easy, there is a still a huge challenge here, which is excellent.

You really feel it too, especially in later levels where enemy vehicles bombard you tirelessly, and when the enemy count ramps up significantly. You can also man a number of mounted cannons, and even get behind the gun of an AC-130 attack plane as you defend your comrades on the ground. The campaign is long for a handheld FPS, and is varied enough that it will likely hold your interest for the duration.

Once the single player mode is completed, you can tackle the multiplayer, which is a huge offering. There are seven modes, including capture the flag, team battle and also objective-based missions like detonating intel points in Bomb Squad, or holding areas of the map in Zone Control.

As you score kills, you will gain experience and level up your soldier.  You also gain currency, which can be spent on unlocking new weapons, attachments, skills, equipment, killstreaks, player icons and taunt sounds. It’s a shame that the servers aren’t lighting up with players, as the map design is superb, and there is plenty of content to unlock along the way.

This is a surprising effort, and proves that you don’t need all the technical clout of a cutting-edge home console to deliver an exhilarating military FPS experience. Modern Combat 3 is definitely one to check out.

Rated 5 out of 5

Visually impressive and full of content, Gameloft is fighting with the big boys here.