It’s still not easy to handle the spidery (though well-balanced) control scheme, but Modern Combat 5: Blackout proves once again that tablets and phones can do console-style first-person shooters with aplomb. As with its predecessors, Blackout sports cutting-edge graphics, a generic but solid single-player campaign, and a deep multiplayer experience. There’s nothing new here, and in fact some of the less popular modes are gone, but nearly everything has been improved in big and small ways to make this a superior game.
Weapons and character classes (of which there are four) have more unlockable tiers, and even online multiplayer runs silky smooth. And best of all for folks who like to dabble in both solo missions and multiplayer matches, there’s finally a unified progression system whereby experience points and weapon unlocks apply across the board. A serviceable, barely coherent story backs the high-speed solo action, which is rather more staccato than before — with most levels lasting only three or four minutes.
The highlight of the experience this time around is not the single-player improvements but rather the spacious, multi-story maps that have been brilliantly balanced for free-for-all or team deathmatch and capture-the-flag mayhem. They capture that hectic, tension-laden console experience so perfectly that it's hard to stop at just one match.
The bottom line. Modern Combat 5: Blackout may be little more than an upgrade for Gameloft’s first-person shooter series, but it makes improvements in all the right places.