Another year, another entry in Gameloft's Modern Combat series. As was the case with Fallen Nation [$6.99], Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour [$6.99] continues the trend of a decent single player campaign with an established formula made successful with the previous Modern Combat games. While players won't find anything particularly innovative or substantially new to the series, they'll still find a campaign with all the pros (and cons) we've come to know from Modern Combat.

Following an overarching tale of terrorists launching simultaneous attacks around the world and kidnapping the president, Zero Hour puts you in the role of several different protagonists (and antagonists, for that matter) as they each play their parts in the larger narrative. The game employs some interesting techniques, such as letting you play the same event but from the perspectives of different teams. While Zero Hour isn't going to win any awards for story-telling, it still manages to weave a somewhat cohesive story, even if the plot is completely over-the-top (and really, what military shooters these days aren't?). Series veterans will even see the return of an old enemy from Fallen Nation, although he seems to have become a complete caricature of every generic bad guy ever.

From a gameplay perspective, Zero Hour doesn't so much change the core formula as it refines and improves on what's already there. The same four difficulty tiers returns, along with 12 missions across a wide variety of locales. Also making a return are the occasional quick time event as well as a ton of cinematic cutscenes setting the stage between levels and checkpoints. While the above items aren't new to the series, you'll notice that the voice acting (for the most part) sounds improved, cutscenes are not as jarring, and even the quick time events feel more appropriate. These sound like small adjustments, but when taken together they do a good job of improving the overall experience.

This sort of theme continues with the actual FPS engine. For example, aim assist via scoping feels a bit snappier, while gyroscopic aiming also seems improved. Meanwhile, the in-game shop, which also makes a return from Fallen Nation, adds more options to customize your weapons with the credits earned while playing single player missions. While the virtual controls are still hit-or-miss (which seems to be the norm on most iOS FPS games), Gameloft does a decent job with its control options, including the ability to move around and resize any button on screen.

Of course, Zero Hour isn't without its annoyances with the majority of them being recurring problems that have been encountered in previous titles. The checkpoint system seems ill placed at times, with difficult sections coinciding with having to hear particularly annoying voice-overs repeatedly as you try to clear a section. In addition, the overall difficulty curve seems to jump wildly, creating some frustration that seems to want to encourage folks to shell out for power-ups in the in-game shop. This is especially true with the game's 'escort' sections, with some companions dying incredibly quickly if you don't know exactly where the enemies are coming from. There's also the fact that most weapons in the single player campaign feel generic and indistinguishable. Again, these aren't new issues to Modern Combat, but it's unfortunate that they continue into Zero Hour.

As was the case with N.O.V.A. 3 [$6.99] released earlier this year, one of the biggest improvements in Zero Hour is its visuals. Suffice to say, this is the nicest looking Modern Combat title and is probably one of the most visually impressive FPS titles on current iOS devices. Textures are crisp, explosions and particle effects are aplenty, and, most important, the game runs at a reliable and fast framerate. The weakest link seems to be character models, but even those aren't too bad. It's important to note that with a large variety of iOS devices currently in the wild, your experience will definitely vary.

For example, while the above complements are certainly true on my iPhone 5, I encountered some slow-down and degradation on my iPad 3. Impressions in our forums also seem to indicate that while the version of Zero Hour on the iPad 4 has all the available special effects, it doesn't run in full Retina resolution. In addition, one can imagine that the visual quality will diminish with earlier devices. Regardless, these sorts of games have always served as good "bragging material" for new hardware owners, and Zero Hour definitely continues that trend (at least for the iPhone 5).

As you've probably noticed, outside of the visual improvements Zero Hour really hasn't changed much in regards of the single player campaign. Sure, there's a new adventure with different places to go and people to kill, but it's all been done at this point. In addition, while the iterative improvements to the actual formula are nice, they're subtle enough that most players will barely notice them. While some may complain about the lack of significant improvements, I'm willing to be satisfied with the fact that Gameloft has taken a successful series and preserved the single player campaign with small changes and improvements to an otherwise well-done formula. Granted, this is only half of the equation with Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour as we'll be taking a look at the multiplayer in the next few days.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • hamburglar291

    Been playing MC3 multiplayer practically nonstop recently. How soon until a price drop? I've been anxiously awaiting this game but can't stomach that price...

    • http://profiles.google.com/godboubs Brandon Godbout

      its 7 dollars...are you that cheap? lol

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        Gameloft games worth 1 duck maximum, why would he pay 7x the price? are you that retarded? lol

      • Guest

        Yeah man ducks don't grow on trees. They wander underneath and around them. Idiot.

      • Im4Ducks

        Yeah man, ducks don't grow on trees. They wander underneath and around them. Idiot.

      • dudeitsvinced

        Yeah bro, god, I love posting comments twice when I make misspelling jokes.

      • MarkyMarc

        I think it's a very fair price when compared to many other games on the App Store. I wouldn't insult him by asking if he's retarded, especially when he's right. How much is the Duck currency worth compared to the US dollar anyhow?

  • http://www.facebook.com/deonaldi.v Deonaldi Vargas

    Why is it when I touch the 6.99 for modern combat 4 it shows that I can download it? I'm like the first person to buy it. I thought it releases tomorrow on Thursday and today is Wednesday 11:20 pm

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      It's set to release at the stroke of midnight December 6th, which is 11pm EST and 8pm PST since technically the US Virgin Islands are an hour ahead of the east coast and it turns midnight there first.

  • mrTofu

    So do you buy this now or wait for Christmas sale?

    • JosephmWood

      Gameloft won't put this on Christmas sale. They'll put older titles like Dark Knight or Spider-Man maybe Wild Blood.

      • http://twitter.com/otapia13 Oscar

        they may drop the price to 5.99 or 4.99 but I'm sure they wont go lower than that...
        now if you want to wait till next year you may be able to get it for 2.99 hell you may even be able to get it for a buck if you wait till the 4th of july
        but do you really want to wait that long?

  • Lamar Taylor

    I'm downloading MC4 right now. Huge file that is almost 2GB's but its worth it to me. This game and GTA Vice City are even better when you play them with a Bluetooth speaker...really adds to the experience.

    Ignore all the haters and folks who complain about everything and check this out for yourself. Most people spend $7 at McDonald's so crying about this price is a joke.

    • shellz3499

      Hey could we trade apps so that I can play mc4 and you can download apps that I bought ?

  • Zylent

    How much this game takes installed? :s

    • http://twitter.com/otapia13 Oscar

      aproximately 2Gigs
      download its only 1.44GB tho

  • DecafTable

    I won't be buying this if it doesn't run in full Retina on the iPad. Shame on you Gameloft, seriously.

    • http://twitter.com/otapia13 Oscar

      looks pretty good on iphone5 but i have to be honest it doesn't look too much of an improvement, however it is pretty sweet.
      and I have not played multiplayer yet because for some reason I cannot login so this is not a very reliable source
      I hope multiplayer is a lot better than MC3

  • oxmuzzle

    This game looks so sweet. Mc3 is one of my favorites, but this one has totally broken the gyro. I can hold the ipad perfectly still and my cross hairs float to the sky or turn it upside and they drop to the ground. Even if its perfectly flat on the table. It still moves. I going back to mc3 til this is fixed. I wanna enjoy my 7 ducks when it's fixed.

  • bunnyfoofoo27

    DUO gamer not working with this guys. I forked out $114 to get it imported to NZ last month and this price drop bites my ass. Very disappointed gameloft. Thanks for screwing me

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

      Ouch... then, I won't order the controller either now that its price is set lower.

  • ppfreire

    I have 3.1GB available and it says i cant download because i don't have enough space available. Anyone know why?

    • pauldavidmerritt

      Here's how it works: it has to download the game package first (1.44gb). Then, it has to install the game fully (~2.0gb). So, it needs enough space to download game package AND fully install the game from the downloaded file. You're looking at needing 3.5gb of free space, or app store will say "not enough space", even though the game advertises it being a 1.4gb game.

  • DrlRage

    I want this game but it's wayyyyy to big for my iPad's stomach

  • http://www.facebook.com/diego.joo Diego Joó

    I got an ipad 2,and i buyed the app,but it doesnt work.somebody knows why ?(it was jailbreaked,but i downloaded the new softver)

  • bigjack66

    I got this cheap. But it's worth full price. Don't know what everyone's complaining about the graphics are lovely and gameplay and acting are excellent. I notice TA mentioning standard weapons it's a modern day shooter what do you expect. There's extra stuff in store and the mounted gun comes in handy for tough situations.

Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4