In early 2011, Epic Games released Duty Calls, a Call of Duty parody game that made fun of the military shooter in order to promote the release of Bulletstorm. The story mode for Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour is 10 times as funny, only I'm pretty sure it wasn't meant to be.
Modern Combat 4 opens with a group of soldiers storming a beach, a common military shooter trope (yes, I just reduced one of the major battles of World War II into a gaming trope). The commander of this force delivers an impassioned speech to his troops. He tells them that the terrorists they are after possess incredibly advanced military technology. He tells them that this is a new era of combat, coming dangerously close to just saying the name of the game.
Just before the shooting starts he tells his men that it's up to them to free the nation for liberty.
Why am I laughing so much?
As I progress through the first level, my NPC companion spouts out canned jargon at regular intervals. "Holy shit" is one of his favourites. Every time I kill an enemy soldier, he lets me know I killed an enemy soldier. He shouts instructions dramatically, even if we're standing right next to each other in a completely quiet area. He says things like "Shit. This situation isn't going to unfuck itself." He kinda reminds me of Kotaku's own Owen Good. Together we shoot down an advanced military helicopter with a machine gun.
Are Owen and I bad enough to take on Edward Page, the disenfranchised ex-military terrorist leader who has kidnapped the world's leaders in the wake of a devastating nuclear disaster?
God I hope not, he's hilarious.
The second level of the game puts me in his shoes, and I never want to leave. He's the most over-the-top villain the military first-person shooter has ever seen, spouting his anti-establishment lines with such vitriol you can almost see his voice actor foaming at the mouth.
He says that! And thanks to some unfortunate line delivery, he also says "Now you fall, just like the leaders of your corrupt nation, f**king imperialist sock puppets." I am sure he didn't mean that the leaders fell while f**king puppets, but it's fun to imagine.
He is! That's why we love him.
The best way to enjoy Modern Combat 4's story is to not take it too seriously. If you don't, you'll appreciate the console-quality graphics and incredibly solid shooting action, and you won't mind the odd bug. If you don't, then you probably need to lighten up a little bit, you sock puppet.
Of course unintentional silliness does not a Gaming App of the Day make. Modern Combat 4 gets the nods because it's only multiplayer is so very good. Up to 12 players can take the field in 8 different game modes, spread across 8 all-new maps. The new specialisation system caters to four different fighting styles — Stealth, Front Line, Intervention and Support. The new loadout system boasts 20,000 possibly equipment configurations. This is multiplayer as meaty as anything a console or PC shooter has to offer.
I've played a dozen multiplayer matches, and never once have I experienced game-killing lag. It's incredibly stable, which is kind of disappointing for a player that's used to blaming his many deaths on the internet. Guess I am going to have to step up my game.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll go online and die. Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour is an amazing accomplishment in mobile gaming, even when it doesn't mean to be.
Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour ($7.49) [iTunes App Store]