Modern Combat: Sandstorm in Review – I’m Not Crying, I Just Got Sand In My Eyes

Having just recovered from the sheer awe of Gangstar, my sanity is threatened again by yet another awesome cat which Gameloft just pulled from the proverbial bag: Modern Combat: Sandstorm (MC: S). Saying MC: S is a FPS (first person shooter) with nice 3D graphics would be an understatement. MC: S is one of the most realistic App Store games to date; a game with a fantastic story line, voiceovers, amazing sound effects – saying that would just about cover the tip of the iceberg.

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MC: S puts you in the Middle East in the role as Chief. With the assistance of your squad, you must infiltrate the enemy to eliminate a terrorist threat (yadda, yadda). This story spans 10 missions which range from disabling communication towers to “castle defense” gameplay. Scenery too, is similarly varied and ranges from a dusty training camp to the bowels of a laboratory.

MC:S’ navigation system is a completely iDevice friendly giant green arrow located at the top of the screen which points in the direction which corresponds to the mission.

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If only they worked..

One of the first things that’s noticeable with MC: S is its stunning visuals: its graphics are comparable to that of early PS2 games and easily blow away the DS and PSP. The environments are incredibly textured, showing dirt and rust stains as well as graffitied Arabic writing on many walls. Sound is great too and if you own a good pair of headphones, you will be in for a real ambient treat.

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I dunno what it says either.

I was pleasantly surprised that the controls work very well on the iDevice. There are three different control schemes: 1) The default control scheme uses a virtual analog stick on the left side of the screen and a fire button on the right. Adjusting the camera is accomplished by dragging your finger across the screen. 2) The second control method splits the screen up so that the left side controls movement while the right controls firing. 3) The last control method emulates dual analog sticks: again, the left to move and the right to aim. Shooting is done by tapping screen. No matter what control scheme you use, there are a few mainstay items: a crouch button on the bottom left; an extra precision zoom button on the bottom right; and when approaching an obstacle or an enemy, an action/melee button will pop up. Other options include aim assist (which helps in auto-targeting); a gore on/off switch (but who doesn’t love a little blood here and there?); and a lefty mode. You can even play your own playlist, however, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida just doesn’t suit a game of this caliber.

modern-combat-sandstorm-review5MC:S offers a variety of weapons to play around with. My personal favorite weapon is of course the RPG and I’ve shot it within point-blank range just for a laugh or two. Be warned though, stupidity has its consequences. I managed to have my own fail moment during a heavy firefight. While being ambushed by terrorists (a pretty typical day for me), I ran for cover in a room where a terrorist threw a grenade at me (yes, the AI is rather smart and offers a nice challenge), so I decided to return fire. Little did I know that my own grenade hit the ceiling and bounced back toward me – resulting in a neat little suicide.

Other than the weapons listed above, there are: sniper rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, and a heavy machine gun which is mounted (it may have unlimited ammo but it also overheats, so use it wisely!). To cycle through the limit of two weapons, just double tap on the weapon button (located top right side of the screen). Single tapping this button will reload your weapon.

Grenades: flashbang and concussion, are deployed by a single tap on the grenade button (located under the weapon button), and double tap the button cycles through available grenades. Enemies drop boxes of ammo upon death (sounds painful), and you can find ammo and grenade boxes scattered through out each mission. There are also weapon crates which allow you to change weapons or take ammo (depending whether or not you already have the weapon in the crate).

modern-combat-sandstorm-review6MC:S offers three difficulty levels: easy, medium, and hard. I’ll admit that I took the loser way out and chose easy as my difficulty, and even that is slightly challenging. Never give away your location or the AI will be all over you like white on rice. Even so, it isn’t impossible to beat this sandstorm of an FPS. If you can do it, an extra level of difficulty, Extreme, will avail itself to you – I’m afraid to even think about it. Despite the fact that there are only 10 missions, each takes around 20-30 minutes to complete; or if you are like me, you will sniff at every nook and cranny for another 10 minutes.

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R.I.P Sweet Prince (2009-2009)

MC: S is another winner-winner-chicker-dinner from Gameloft. Though the wait was excruciating and unbearable (might have exaggerated a bit there), it was definitely worth it. MC: S offers up one of the best gaming experiences at the App Store. It also looks and sounds great and has a fine story, wrapping to for a fine presentation. Now, it is time to wait for the impending update which will enable online multiplayer (a day which will surely bring happy tears to my eyes).

modern-combat-sandstorm-review8MC: S (and Gameloft) walk away with another Kiss It rating. How long will this streak of amazing games last? I don’t know, but I hope it doesn’t end any time soon.

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App Summary
Title:Modern Combat: Sandstorm (v. 1.0.7)Developer:Gameloft
Price:$6.99App Size:185 MB
  • Stunning 3D graphics and textured environment
  • Great music and sound effects
  • Play your own iPod music
  • Great voiceovers and cutscenes
  • Good story with 10 missions
  • Good variety of weapons
  • 3 control schemes
  • Having to wait for online multiplayer!

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