With the days of video game movie tie-ins on consoles mostly behind us, an emerging trend has been the release of a mobile game to tie-in with a movie. It’s cheaper, it’s more accessible and the graphics are always surprisingly decent. So, with Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim in cinemas now, it’s received the mobile game treatment. But does the brawler cut the mustard?
First things first – Pacific Rim is a straight-up fighting game, featuring numerous battles between the Jaeger robots and the invading Kaiju monsters. There’s the usual upgrading system and loose story (in a shockingly original move, you’re a rookie military man), but it essentially boils down to several showdowns between the robots and aliens. The controls are fairly good – and easy to use – you can attack, parry, dodge, duck and send in special attacks with a single swipe, and it’s all very easy to remember – punching a 100-foot monster in the face has never been easier. It didn’t stop me from consistently leaning into the Kaiju attacks and receiving quite the pummeling as a result but they’re good controls nonetheless.
The graphics are also pretty good – there are better looking games on the App Store, but it’s still appealing to look at, and the Kaiju are appropriately diverse and odd-looking. You may have noticed that I’ve covered almost everything – and that’s the game’s true flaw – it’s hugely insubstantial. There’s nothing more to the game than fighting near identical battles with near identical tactics, then upgrading. There’s no campaign, and it soon falls into the pit of monotony, with only a smattering of new attacks to provide continued interest. What there is is quite fun, but not when there’s nothing else behind the monster punching. It’s the mobile game equivalent of a bag of crisps – tasty, but half of it’s air and you’re always left feeling a little bit ripped off and promising that you’ll buy pretzels next time (which is where the analogy falls down a little).
When you’re left wanting an in-app purchase (the bane of mobile gaming, which now appears on every app ever created) to expand the game a little more, you know you’ve been cheated – and the final nail in the coffin is that it’s five dollars (or three pounds for us on the other side of the pond). That’s what you pay for fantastic apps like Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, which gives you a ten-hour campaign and unlimited sandbox fun. Here, you get around a tenth of the original content that app had.
Overall, Pacific Rim: The Mobile Game is quite fun, with excellent controls and decent graphics… while it lasts. Sadly, the sheer lack of content, repetitiveness and hefty price makes Pacific Rim a mediocre, below-average tie-in.
Game was reviewed on the iPad mini.