Modern Combat Blackout: We have Call of Duty at home.

Let’s be fair.  Comparing Modern Combat Blackout to any games in the Call of Duty series is a massive disservice to MCB.  This is a Switch port of a mobile game from 2014 that can be had for $7.99 regularly and is currently on sale for $1.99.  It doesn’t have the budget or the massive development resources that Activision throws at their flagship series, and it doesn’t cost seventy bucks or eat up 200GB of your console’s precious SSD space.

In addition, it can be played completely offline – I was in “Airplane mode” the entire time – and doesn’t make you set up Yet Another Online Account, which are two huge points in its favor.

However, the easy joke was there so I jumped on it for an article title, and while a direct comparison is decidedly unfair, I think it’s reasonable to look at MCB as at least trying to hit the same audience as CoD.  It’s a gritty first-person military shooter with a plot line that’s all about terrorism and corrupt private military contractors and saving the world with the power of friendship guns.

I only played the campaign, but I understand there’s a multiplayer element to it as well.  I won’t talk about that because I am the last person in the world to have an educated opinion of a game’s multiplayer features.  Going back to CoD, I buy it more-or-less faithfully every year, play through the campaign and then never touch it again.

So.  Campaign mode it is.  MCB has six main campaign chapters (Really, one tutorial stage and five chapters), each of which is broken up into a handful of snack-size missions.  I don’t think any of the individual missions are more than ten minutes long, which is handy considering there are no checkpoints – die once and you’re starting from scratch.

The mission lengths are decidedly welcome if you need to replay any.  Each mission has three goals, and you’re rewarded one to three stars on mission completion.  Unlocking subsequent chapters requires earning a certain number of stars, so I would occasionally run through one to improve my rankings.

In addition to the stars at the end of the level, you get experience points and your weapons level up and new weapon customizations unlock and it is just a delightful burst of bars filling and lights flashing and then you have new bars to fill.  Really, it’s the best sort of positive feedback.  5/5, would fill bars again.

I did have one small bar-related issue which was entirely my fault, and that’s that when possible I really enjoy playing these sorts of games with different weapons and I didn’t use my primary rifle QUITE as much as I should have… and then I hit the last chapter, which in addition to requiring a certain number of stars and a certain player level also required me to have a “tier 4” weapon.  I had a single tier 3 and a variety of tier 2 weapons, so I had to go back and grind a bit.

In addition to story missions, every chapter has a number of “Spec Ops” missions, which are even smaller in scale than the story missions and tend to have a little more of a puzzle element to them.

My favorite of these was the “Breach” mission, which had you throwing a flash grenade into a room of enemies and then needing to decide which needed to die in which order so none of them could shoot you first, or set off a bomb, or kill a hostage, etc.  The room layouts and enemy types are randomized whenever you start a Breach mission, so there’s no way to memorize what’s going to come at you.

I was less enamored of Spec Ops missions that had you defending your team from a sniper’s perch, because the people you were defending were entirely too prone to walking into bullets.

Only one of these was truly awful, however, and at least it comes in the final chapter when you no longer need any more stars to unlock anything.

There’s another sniper-style Spec Ops mission which I really enjoyed, which was the “Assassinate” missions.  These present you with a bird’s-eye view of a half-dozen-or-so dudes walking around and you have 45 seconds to figure out which one is your target.

This mode also has a frankly reality-bending-but-who-cares mechanic where you get to control your bullet in flight after it leaves the barrel, which was super cool and reminded me of the arrows in Heavenly Sword.

This is the only time in 16 years that I’ve been reminded of Heavenly Sword.  Anyone else remember when that was supposed to be the PS3’s big system selling game?  No? Just me?  Moving on, then.

One campaign issue that may be more or less forgivable depending on how much you care about story in your gritty military shooters: the Switch version of the game only has half the ending.  In the original mobile game, you have a dramatic final showdown with the Bad Guy, kill said Bad Guy, and then get a post killing-the-Bad-Guy wrap-up where you get to learn the final fates of, well, everything.

The Switch version omits the wrap-up.  I mean, it was pretty clear that the right people got what was coming to them, but I had to go to Wikipedia to look it up.

One place the campaign stands out is in the environments.  You spend most of the game running around modern urban Japan, which is exceedingly rare for an FPS, and the developers put a fair degree of effort into dressing up the world to look like fairly seedy Tokyo back alleys.  There’s even a low-polygon Super Cub!

It’s a tiny detail but I loved stuff like the weathering on the label of these trash/recycling bins.

I almost feel bad about pointing out that the characters on the trash bin on the right in this screenshot are written backwards.  The cigarette machine is good though!

Set dressing aside, graphics range from pretty impressive, like the lighting and texture work in this shot…

…or this cool corporate lobby:

…to less impressive, like this level that was mostly crates of various sizes…

…or this stack of cinderblocks.

Playing in handheld mode, it mostly all looked good in motion.  If I’d had it on a bigger screen I might have been more picky.

Anyway, with the exception of two entirely-optional levels and the bizarrely-truncated ending, I had a grand time with Modern Combat Blackout.  Would spend $1.99 to control bullets with my mind again.

Next I should probably find a game to play that involves cute anime girls that are also power tools, or something.  Wouldn’t want to get TOO enamored of normie games.


This entry was posted in Switch, videogames. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Modern Combat Blackout: We have Call of Duty at home.

  1. Bret Bernhoft says:

    This was an interesting post to read. I’m glad that you had a good time playing the game. Looking forward to future reviews of your gaming adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.