Question: how many times has a dinner been skipped or forgotten in favour of online shooting marathons on the PlayStation 3? Gameloft knows it’s happening daily, and with the price tag of a measly $7.99/£6.29, Modern Combat: Domination on PlayStation Network is as cheap as a skipped dinner, but is it worth going hungry?
If “Modern Combat” sounds eerily similar to “Modern Warfare”, then don’t be surprised to find out that there are more similarities than just the name. Gameloft is known for developing games based on other established franchises with mixed results. This time they have taken aim at cashing in on the Modern Warfare craze, and with the PlayStation 3 version of Call of Duty: Black Ops still being plagued with constant online issues, there is no better time for Gameloft to enter the market with an exclusive to PlayStation Network title.
Taking on the likes of Modern Warfare is no easy task, as it’s considered by many to be the pinnacle of online FPS gaming. Surprisingly though Gameloft has crafted a solid shooter, and although it's by no means another Modern Warfare let’s begin with what the game does right. Supporting 720p HD graphics, the game looks really good, and holds its own against other $60 titles on the market. The audio presentation is well executed, with gun fire and explosions as to be expected. The main theme of the game could literally be placed straight into the main menu of Modern Warfare and fit perfectly, but again it’s a great fit here. Boasting 6 game modes across 5 maps, 13 military weapons with unlockable attachments, 16 player online or offline matches, and a 72 level cap, there isn’t a complaint for lack of gameplay options either, especially for the cheap asking price.
Modern Warfare veterans will feel right at home with the DualShock controls as they are mapped and feel nearly identical, which is by no means a bad thing. Modern Combat: Domination adds PlayStation Move support into the mix, and pulls it off quite well. Pro-tip: take some time to adjust the sensitivities, dead-zone and button configurations in a few offline matches before jumping into the heat of online battles. Screen-lock is applied while aiming down the sights of a gun, which allows for quick and easy movement around the screen without the need to worry about accidentally shifting the screen by going out of the dead-zone. Navigating the levels with Move may take a little time for beginners, but MAG veterans will feel right at home here with Move in hand. Speaking of levels, the maps are all well designed with branching paths and multiple tiers to gain advantages on the opposing team. Great controls and map design are crucial in this genre, and Modern Combat delivers on both fronts.
Out of the six game modes available, Escort has to be the absolute best of the bunch. One randomly selected player is designated as the escort, and the team has to escort him through the level to an escape point to win. Teamwork and a quick trigger finger are necessary to squeeze through the levels to get the escort out alive, and working together to protect your teammates can be loads of fun. Other game modes are the usual standard fare of Deathmatches, Capture and Demolition that we’ve seen time and again, and all play as you'd expect. The use of bots to fill empty slots is a nice addition to the game: if the game starts with only a handful of human players, bots will take over until the slots are filled, keeping the shooting action constant instead of wandering around looking for an enemy to spray lead into. In modes without respawns, the uses of bots is well implemented and at times extremely helpful, as upon death, if a bot is still alive, one can then take-over the bot and continue on until the goal has been accomplished, or the entire team has been eliminated. The bots, for the most part, act as a normal human player would, but at times they do pack together and make for easy targets. Mostly they put up a good fight, and overall the implementation is for the better, not worse.
Sadly it's not all guns and glory, so it's time to cover the issues at hand in Modern Combat: Domination. The biggest gripe is bad spawning: too many times we found ourselves shot in the back by enemies that just spawned, and this isn’t something that happens every now-and-then, this happens in nearly every match that involves spawning. Upon death, all weapons and items are lost, and must be repurchased prior to spawning again. Gaining money is no easy feat, as even with headshot and multikill multipliers, dispatching an opponent may only net you $500, with the better weapons costing upwards of $5000. Spawning with a hard-earned weapon and then quickly killed by an enemy spawning from behind is frustrating to say the least. Hit detection, long load times and differentiating between friend and foe all need improving as well, which could easily be fixed through future patches, and hopefully those patches will come soon.
Gameloft takes on the online FPS shooter genre with guns blazing and largely succeeds. Even with its faults, what’s here is a solid online shooter that's worth every penny of the small asking price. While it may be lacking kill streak rewards full of sentry guns and chopper gunners, what’s here is solid enough to keep the fragging going on into the wee hours of the morning. Save a few bucks by skipping dinner and buying Modern Combat: Domination – by the time hunger kicks in, breakfast will have rolled around, and the hours spent fragging all night will have been well worth it.