Recently we reviewed and enjoyed Gameloft's Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour's [$6.99] single player offerings. While the game's campaign continued the trend of offering a pretty great single player experience, there were a few perpetual nagging issues that seemed to hold it back. Of course, like its console brethren, most folks don't play Modern Combat for its story. Rather, they play it for its multiplayer options, which were introduced with Black Pegasus and greatly refined in Fallen Nation. With Zero Hour, Gameloft has again delivered an awesome FPS multiplayer experience on iOS that really can't be beat.

If you've played any iteration of Modern Combat's multiplayer before, the core of Zero Hour's will be very familiar. Players pick from a variety of game types and compete against others, earning cash and credits for kills, assists and completing objectives. Credits are used to purchase weapons, attachments, killstreaks and more, while experience is used towards increasing your rank. Additional features like WiFi only multiplayer, map voting, parties, and custom matches round out the standard fare.

While the above isn't new, there are a few key differences in Zero Hour's multiplayer which sets it apart from its predecessors. The biggest change you'll notice is the fact that every customizable option (be it weapons, attachments, kill streaks etc.) is available at the beginning of the game. This means that your only barrier towards getting the load-out you want is purely credits, with rank being relegated to more of an indicator of playing time (although it does become important with the introduction of specializations). Personally, I'm a fan of having everything available at the onset, but it can be a little bewildering for folks that are used to being guided by unlocks.

Also making their debut in Zero Hour are specializations, which offer gamers a wide variety of customization based on their play-style. Players initially choose between one of four specializations: Intervention, Front Line, Support and Stealth. At the onset, each awards players additional experience for certain actions (Support rewards accomplishing objectives, Stealth with headshots, etc). Every ten ranks, players can purchase one of two additional perks within their specialization of choice for credits. While you can purchase both specializations, only one can be active, so typically you'd want to only buy one to save cash.

With 8 perks per specialization, I'm a huge fan of the amount of different paths that can be taken towards customizing your player. This also goes a long way towards keeping your rank relevant, as you'll be motivated to keep rising in the ranks in order to unlock the cooler perks at the bottom of the specialization tree. The perks themselves are also pretty varied with standard stuff such as radar jamming and grenade boosts as well as more elaborate features like a perk that alerts you when an enemy takes aim in your direction. Theres a lot to check out, and it's a very strong addition to the overall multiplayer system.

Otherwise, the majority of the changes in Zero Hour go towards improving upon what's already been there. The 12-player combat returns with refinement as I've had almost no problems in any of my matches played as far as lag is concerned. Most of the game modes return, along with one or two new variations, such as VIP (guard your designated team VIP while taking out the other side's). Meanwhile, there are simply more weapons, killstreaks and attachments while map design has improved with bigger and more friendly layouts. Even the controls are improved with the ability to really customize your virtual buttons, helping you optimize the screen for efficient killing. More detailed stats are also now available, helping you keep track of your career.

While there's lots to love about Zero Hour's multiplayer, there's a few nagging items keeping it from perfection. While I've mentioned earlier my concurrence of having all weapons unlocked at the onset, I'm not a fan of the fact that everything seems to cost a ton of credits, an obvious move towards encouraging IAP credit purchases. In-app purchasing in competitive games is always a conversation starter, and I have no doubt it'll continue to be in Zero Hour as it does have the potential to alter the balance of competition in certain ways.

Gameloft has done an admirable job of trying to balance the weapons themselves so no single weapon feels more overpowered than another, but being able to fast-track your way to some of the available attachments could offer some slight competitive advantages over those who are still trying to earn stuff the natural way. Also, it can just be plain irritating that some brand new player can drop the cash to instantly buy the same weapon that I've been busting my butt to earn through dedicated play. At the end of the day though, a player's skill is truly what will shine through and it's unlikely you'll be getting mopped up by somebody just because they have deep pockets.

Another annoyance with the multiplayer that I encountered is a relatively high likelihood of getting stuck in team-based games with an imbalanced number of players on each team. While this may be a symptom of a fresh launch, it's never fun to be placed in a game where you're heavily outnumbered by the opposing team.

There's also a few wish list items I'd like to eventually, such as 3G multiplayer and voice chat, but I realize those might be asking for a bit much. Regardless, Zero Hour's multiplayer is an awesome experience that continues the tradition of strong multiplayer offerings in the Modern Combat series. Folks still playing Fallen Nation really need to move on to Zero Hour as there's a lot of good improvements to the formula. For everyone else, this is as full-featured a multiplayer game as you'll find on iOS.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Decaf Table

    How did this get 5 stars when the frame rate is unstable on just about every device? Let's not forget they did not support this with FULL retina on the iPad.

    • http://twitter.com/Triscuitable Triscuitable

      Because you're not playing it on the newest tech. The iPad 4 and iPhone 5 get full effects and 60FPS. It's a stellar experience.

      Meanwhile, the iPhone 4 and 4S are pretty outdated, considering the pace at which graphics have improved on the iOS in recent months. The standard has been raised quite high.

      • Trogador

        As this is why one day I hope these games will introduce graphics options. I can't afford to upgrade my phone every year. Because of that I get thrashed in multiplayer because the low frames make it much harder to control, whereas if I had an option to, say, turn off shadows or reduce the lighting or texture effects my problem would be solved. Is there a reason app developers don't do this already?

      • Adams Immersive

        That's a very good solution--and some iOS devs do indeed do that. Many games simply automatically offer different quality levels to different devices, but I've seen some with manual options too. This can only help an app's sales: good for devs and players alike!

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

        Your mother was pretty outdated too but you are here and functioning, so why so serious?

        Anyway, have you ever heard of optimizing? Turn off effects on lower devices and stuff? Or giving options to turn off effect so player can customize for speed of for quality? No? Are you 13 years old and mommy bought an iPhone 5 for you? Yes? Interesting...

      • debewley

        why you being offensive to the guy , you bloody bully?

      • http://twitter.com/bnatesgamer Bnatesgamer

        I think that is just dumb. Not everyone can afford the newest tech like every year. It's just plain crazy. I myself have an iPhone 4S and i get frame rate lag so much. Gameloft needs options or something to keep it steady and fair cause those people with iPhone 5's and iPad 4's have such a big advantage. It's just unfair.

      • debewley

        Works a treat on my iPod 4g

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.kim.370 Dennis Kim

    The quality is great but every second the camera moves down so i give it 1 star out of 5

    • http://twitter.com/Schryliam ''Stefan'' '~'

      Dude, you can disable that in your options. It's called auto-center.

  • jeffyg3

    The campaign is a fairly mediocre experience. 2.5/5 for the single player. Multiplayer is awesome though

  • Wikilix

    I don't know what you all are talking about, I get a smooth 30 FPS on my iPhone 4. The only time I experience lag, which is very minimum when I do, is when I've been playing for more then hour.

    I just clear my multi-task bar, safari history, delete old texts/recent phone calls, and sometimes preform a hard reset on my device if it is still laggy.

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

      "just clear safari history, delete old texts/recent" phone calls
      Are you serious?

      • debewley

        You are a wanker mate !

    • Travis Hidden

      lol

    • http://twitter.com/Ju5stin justin

      I find cleaning the car, emptying the bins, then do a bit of washing up...makes a massive frame rate difference.

    • Texazzpete

      A hard reset just to play a game? Delete old SMS and recent calls? Dafuq did I just read?!!!

    • Adams Immersive

      I think you'll find that a normal full power-down is all you need if RAM gets tight. Skip the other steps--they might free up a little bit of the flash drive, but RAM is what you need.

  • monteiro2008

    I play on ipad3 and is great.

    I good if 3g is on to play multiplayer

  • PresidentZer0

    this might be a goos game but with 15-20fps its not really fun to play. maybe my ipad 2 is too weak, i dont know.

  • http://twitter.com/Schryliam ''Stefan'' '~'

    It's really a good game. And has been worth my money. But I get a little stuck here though. I have got an iPhone 5 and my Wi-Fi is fast enough (speedtests give an average of 30mbps) but when multiplayering in ranked servers it is laggy all the time. And I am not able to make kills because as soon i shoot someone after a second he is already gone or killed me first. Just some players. And then I mean a very few are not are reacting normal and I don't see lagging around. When I create my own custom match. Just a very few are laggy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/liudvikas.launikonis Liudvikas Launikonis

      Hey, that happens to me all the time when I'm downloading torrents on other internet eating devices. Try pausing your torrents, or just wait until they downloads.

      • http://twitter.com/Schryliam ''Stefan'' '~'

        Yes, thanks for the tip. But the thing is. When I'm home in my own without any other wifi device connected, without other eating devices on such as computers. So only my iPhone. When disabled Location services, mobile network just only wifi and Modern Combat the only application running. It's a bit smoother but still not well playable. The only thing I can think of is that the servers are to far away and that I get a high ping because of the interval connection.

      • debewley

        Put it in flight mode !

  • http://www.fershers.com/ fershers

    mc4 is the final nail in the coffin of the mc series

Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 5