Review – Modern Combat Blackout
Before I start my review for Modern Combat Blackout, there are two things I need to say about the game. First, due to an absolute lack of proper competition, Modern Combat Blackout will sell well on the Switch. While the console has games such as Wolfenstein II and Doom, it lacks on shooters that go for a more Call of Duty style of gameplay. It will most certainly thrive due to Activision’s stubbornness. Second, regardless of its flaws, I’m glad someone decided to release a first-person shooter like this on the Switch. With that out of the way, the main question is if Modern Combat Blackout, a Gameloft game originally released on smartphones, plays well on Nintendo’s portable system. The answer is an easy “yes”, but the game is far from polished.
Modern Combat Blackout‘s name already gives out its main source of inspiration in basically every single aspect of its design. It looks, sounds, feels, and plays like Call of Duty to a borderline lawsuit-inciting degree. Were I playing this game on another other platform, I’d call it insulting. Given this is the Switch, a portable system without a Call of Duty title to call its own, it feels surprisingly refreshing. That’s mostly due to the fact that the controls, albeit generic, are actually pretty good. They are responsive, intuitive, and with the exception of the default aiming sensitivity being too low, it’s also easy to grasp. There is even the option of aiming with the gyroscope, which acts as responsively as it should. QTEs can be performed both via touchscreen inputs and normal button pressing as well.
Modern Combat Blackout features both a single player campaign and a wide assortment of multiplayer modes. One of those is a lot better than the other. The campaign ended up being a massive disappointment, as it is nothing more than a handful of ridiculously short missions (we’re talking three to five minutes in length), all of them comprised of linear corridors and simple set pieces that offer a lot more style than substance. It makes sense for a portable title to feature shorter and faster missions, but when the best thing you can say about this mode is that it plays better than that one Call of Duty: Black Ops game for the PS Vita, you know you’ve missed a big opportunity.
Thankfully, the multiplayer mode ended up being a lot more enjoyable than expected. It’s not a groundbreaking assortment of modes and that’s probably why I enjoyed it. However, it ended up featuring the straightforward multiplayer frenzy that made Call of Duty the juggernaut it is today, but without any of the perks and extra gimmicks that butchered any remnants of balancing; an all too common feature in the more modern iterations in the franchise.
The progression system has been revamped as well. Instead of following the mobile version’s F2P and microtransaction-heavy nature, Modern Combat Blackout for the Switch features zero monetization practices besides the upfront twenty dollar pricetag. Everything can only be acquired in the game by spending in-game currency. I had previously stated in my Asphalt 9 review that I wished for Gameloft to rethink about their monetization strategies should they ever decided to port their games to the Switch and it looks like they have done exactly what I was hoping for.
Modern Combat Blackout‘s graphical and sound department are the complete opposite of its gameplay department. For a mobile game, it’s actually quite decent, but this is the Switch; a console that despite not being as powerful as the other consoles, can still pull out some impressive visuals if you put enough care into your project. This game looks like it just got ported, with zero visual or framerate improvements. The environments can sometimes look impressive on single player, but the character models and framerate are not acceptable. The multiplayer graphics aren’t good either, looking like old Counter-Strike maps at times, but the framerate is marginally better at least.
Despite being little else than a port of a mobile game, Modern Combat Blackout is quite enjoyable, especially if you’re craving for a more traditional FPS offering on the Switch. It makes up for its underwhelming visuals, framerate, and campaign mode with a decent multiplayer and great controls. It gives me hope for future Gameloft endeavors on the console, as well as alerting Activision that you can make CoD-like shooters work on the Switch. You’re losing the race, guys.
While the scenery is brimming with detail and decent particle effects, the human models look extremely dated. The framerate needed some extra tinkering as well.
It’s proof that you can adapt the typical AAA shooting controls onto the joycons and Pro Controller. Aiming with the gyroscope ended up being a lot more intuitive than expected.
Gun sound effects are average, the music is decent enough, but the voice acting is just plain bad and full of excessively stereotypical accents.
Fun Factor: 6.5
The very short and linear single player missions are a bummer, but the multiplayer options are surprisingly varied and fun.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Modern Combat Blackout is available now on Switch, PC and mobile (free-to-play version).
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Modern Combat Blackout was provided by the publisher.