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Combat Master is a free cross-platform online first-person shooter in the style of Counter-Strike and Point Blank. The game has been available for Android devices since December 23, 2021, but only on April 21, 2023, Combat Master was released on Steam and became available for PCs. From the very first days, the game began to receive positive reviews from the community, which is quite strange since it doesn’t bring any new ideas to the genre. In this review, we will try to figure out what is wrong with Combat Master and whether it’s worth playing at all.
A little about the developer
There is not much information about Alfa Bravo Inc., the company that developed Combat Master, on the internet. Judging by their official website, it is an American company with an office in New York, and it seems that Combat Master is their first game. The game’s publication is also handled by the same company. “A small FPS with a dream to go big” is how the developers describe their online shooter.
I also noted (and in our difficult times, this is especially important) the political views of the company, specifically their support for Ukraine in the unjustly waged war against it by Russia. As a Ukrainian, I am delighted to see free weapon skins and avatars with Ukrainian symbolism, which every player can claim for free upon entry. I was also surprised to see the monument “Motherland” in the game trailer, which stands in Kyiv. I’ve been there once, and I think I won’t be lying if I say that for us, it’s the Ukrainian Statue of Liberty. However, I must emphasize that this will not affect my objectivity in this review.
Main Gameplay (6 / 10)
Currently, the game has six modes: Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Combat Master, Arms Race, Search and Destroy, and Werehouse. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, let me clarify that Deathmatch is battles with instant respawn after death, Arms Race is changing weapons after killing enemies, and Search and Destroy is the classic bomb planting gameplay, as in Counter-Strike. As for the strange “Combat Master” mode, you start the fight with bare hands, and weapons appear later in special chests.
Unlike most session shooters, weapons in Combat Master are chosen before entering the battle in the lobby. The game has quite a variety of weapons, from AK-47 to AWM, but they are not unlocked immediately. However, any weapon can be customized with modules such as red dot or sniper scopes, improved stocks, barrels, suppressors, and more. The same system is used in the battle royale shooter Call of Duty: Warzone, so it can be assumed that the developers were partially inspired by this game when developing their own.
As for the combat system itself, I can’t say anything good about it. Perhaps, when playing on tablets and smartphones, Combat Master’s gameplay looks decent, but it is impossible to play it seriously on a PC.
Firstly, characters move too fast and abuse strafing, which looks, to put it mildly, unrealistic. It is impossible to aim at a person who rushes around the map at such a speed, so shooting mostly relies on randomness.
Secondly, the camera shakes so much during shooting that you can’t see the target at all. Perhaps at 240 FPS you might see something, but at the standard 60 FPS, you can be sure that you won’t see anything in the aiming mode (right mouse button).
If you take into account the excessive speed of character movement and jumps, the logical question arises: how do you even play this game? I must note that I might be slightly biased in this regard, as I have never loved games that rely solely on reaction speed, always preferring games that require at least some thinking.
Nevertheless, when I enter a tactical shooter, I expect to see at least some tactics: efficient stamina usage, shooting from cover, teamwork to break through the enemy’s defense, taking advantageous positions, or something similar. In Combat Master, I didn’t see a hint of tactics. Just a few players rushing around the map at marathon sprinter speeds, trying to shoot each other, relying solely on randomness. There is so little time between spotting an enemy and the screen image blurring due to excessive recoil that I cannot call this process “aiming.”
Perhaps a professional esports player with a 240 Hz monitor could handle the level of dynamics offered by Combat Master. For me, however, it looks like an attempt to combine the weapon upgrade logic of COD: Warzone with old-school CS 1.6 modes, which ultimately led to the appearance of another casual shooter that doesn’t offer anything new. I don’t condemn anyone who plays Combat Master and genuinely enjoys the game (although I highly doubt that), but I definitely wouldn’t recommend this game to PC users due to its blatantly primitive gameplay.
Graphics (6 / 10)
The graphics in the game look as they usually do in mobile shooters – no more, no less. Although the locations overall look nice, they clearly lack detail (when talking about the PC version). The performance is good, so you can likely play Combat Master even on a low-end PC.
Pros and Cons
I will list the main advantages and disadvantages of Combat Master according to my personal opinion.
- Low system requirements
- Cross-platform play
- Weapon customization system using modules
- Weapon and module skin customization system
- Primitive and outdated gameplay
- Terrible camera shake during shooting and movement, which cannot be turned off
- Excessively fast and unrealistic character movement
- Complete lack of new ideas
What do the players think?
To understand what the community thinks about the game, I analyzed quite a lot of reviews on Steam and summarized their main points for you.
- One of the main complaints from players: you cannot play with friends.
- Often compared to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- Some people consider the shooting and movement mechanics, which I find to be the main drawback of the game, to be its main advantage for some reason… They write that they have a lot of fun “jumping.”
- Many people like the very fast running
- Many write some funny nonsense without constructive arguments
Overall, after reading all this, I can only draw two conclusions: either all these people have gone mad, or I don’t understand online shooters at all. Of course, it’s up to the esteemed reader to decide which is more likely.
Should you play Combat Master?
I would say it’s worth it if you plan to play it on a smartphone or tablet. Among mobile shooters, Combat Master seems quite playable. Some players present it as a replacement for COD Mobile. However, if you own a PC, seriously playing this game is at least strange. After all, there are many free shooters today that are much better than Combat Master in every respect, including the aforementioned COD Warzone, CS: GO (although in my opinion, this is no less terrible game), Caliber, and others.
I emphasize that I write reviews not to “nod” to the reader but at least to give them food for thought. But I still remind you that this is just my opinion, and you are free to play whatever you want.
What to play instead of Combat Master
If you asked me to list shooters that I consider more worthy of your time and attention, I would suggest:
- Call of Duty Warzone – a battle royale in the style of PUBG but with deeper gameplay
- PUBG – a classic battle royale genre
- Counter-Strike (all parts) – if you are a fan of games where skill matters, not brains
- Caliber – an excellent third-person shooter with relatively deep tactical gameplay
- Paladins – an old but fun fantasy shooter
- The Cycle: Frontier – another casual battle royale, but people seem to enjoy it
If you have something to say about Combat Master, feel free to leave comments. People who will read this review in the future will be able to glean something useful for themselves from them.