With Modern Combat: Sandstorm, the first-person shooter genre on the iPhone takes a giant leap forward... then trips over its shoelaces and tumbles into a landmine.
Taking place in a generic Middle-Eastern country, the mission environments are varied, taking you from boot camp to the streets to a warehouse and finally to the obligatory underground bunker. Each mission will take about 15 minutes to complete, giving a total playtime of about three hours. Even on ‘easy', there are moments when you'll struggle to get past a bottleneck or you won't react in time to an enemy grenade.
While the plot, voice acting, and dialogue are very rough, the combat is much more refined. You move with your joystick, allowing the player to strafe, and aim by flicking your finger across the touchscreen. If you need more precision in your firing, there's a zoom crosshairs button in the corner.
The enemy AI isn't particularly advanced, but they do run for cover, throw grenades and occasionally show willingness to attack you. The game utilises a checkpoint save system although checkpoints are infrequent and there's no ability to manually save.
The graphics, controls, combat, and weapon selection of this military-themed shooter are all top notch. Borrowing some of the best elements from Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat (including part of the title, it seems) Modern Combat: Sandstorm is 85 percent of a great first-person shooter. Only sync issues, bugs, terrible dialogue and a rushed plot hamper what could have been the definitive iPhone title of the year. Yet despite its flaws, it's still arguably the best first-person shooter we've played on the platform.
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