07/08/2014 10:34 BST | Updated 07/08/2014 10:59 BST

'Modern Combat 5: Blackout' iOS/Android Review: Deadly Throwback

'Modern Combat 5: Blackout' is out now for iOS and Android.

Key Features:

  • Campaign, 'spec ops' and Breach mode provides variety of missions
  • Great, fully-3D visuals approaching console quality
  • Online multiplayer


'Modern Combat 5: Blackout' feels like a bit of a throwback. It's a mobile game designed to have the look and feel of a AAA console title (you know which one), complete with fully 3D high-res graphics and 'hardcore' FPS mechanics.

Trouble is, in the last 12 months or so (almost) every major mobile publisher has given up on trying to recreate the console feel on a tablet or smartphone. Instead most have focused on Free-To-Play, in-app purchases and other 'long tail' mechanics, leaving Gameloft's Modern Combat 5 a little isolated.

So how does this latest edition compare with the hardcore games it wants to emulate -- and the mobile games that are its real peers?

modern combat 5

First impressions aren't great, unfortunately, and this is down to one obvious but still really major flaw: the controls. Touchscreens -- even big ones -- just aren't built to make FPS games fun to play. You can alter your control scheme in all sorts of ways here, but almost all involve some kind of virtual dual stick input, and all have the same fundamental problem of being mostly terrible. It's not unplayable, it's just not that enjoyable.

If you can look past that -- or if you're in the minority that actually likes the control scheme -- there is a fair amount to enjoy here. The game is decent graphically, features a good variety of settings and stages and has very solid core gameplay. It's linear, but it's not frustrating and knows to minimise the amount you need to actually move -- again, but the controls are just so awkward.

There are campaign missions, Spec Op missions and a 'Breach' mode reminiscent from the Rainbow Six games. There's also a full online multiplayer mode.

In a sense MC5 benefits from the fact that -- Killzone Mercenary aside, maybe -- there really aren't any decent mobile FPS games on any platform. But it suffers because there is a reason for that. Mobile hardware just isn't capable of recreating a full CoD experience, and which MC5 is ultimately a solid title and easy to enjoy in bursts, it's not likely to build a genuine fanbase prepared to do more than simply tolerate its flaws.