Week in Mobile: Pacific Rim, Kavinsky, and Call of Mini Zombies 2
Every Saturday here on GameZone, we assess a handful of new titles released for iOS and Android and update you on the biggest news we covered during the week.
You may have heard about Pacific Rim — not the geographic location but the movie by Guillermo del Toro that’s hitting theaters tomorrow. As for its quality, you can either believe game designer Hideo Kojima, who thinks it’s unbelievably awesome, or Conan O’Brien, who was upset that the movie wasn’t about eclectic cuisine.
But if Pacific Rim is more than the shallow action of robots pummeling monsters and vice versa, Reliance Big Entertainment’s mobile adaptation (about $6 on iOS and $5 on Android) does little to prove it.
Gameplay takes after Infinity Blade — that is, you fight mano a mano by executing carefully timed and directed swipes and button presses to parry, evade, and block incoming blows. The better you perform in combat, the stronger your attacks will be and the more you’ll be rewarded. You play as a giant mech (a Jaeger) and fight gruesome giant monsters (Kaiju), and it all looks very sharp and impressive and big-budget on your little mobile device. That is, until you realize they’re cutting and pasting the same animations over and over again.
The game modes and story (if you can even discern one among your mission objectives) lack depth as well, and without any exposition, players will have to simply accept their mission to destroy every monster possible in what is a monotonous one-two routine of hit and counter. Sure, you can upgrade your weapons, try out different mechs, equip battle support boosts, and so on, but every mission feels identical.
I found virtually no difference between the Career and Survival modes except that the Career mode has dialogue and the Survival mode consists of endless waves of monster battling, but that’s about it.
Even as I was flailing about, trying to master what swipes would deflect what attacks (the game could really benefit from a replayable tutorial), I managed to win. And then I got every move down to a science. But the game never once made me believe that Pacific Rim was about anything but colossal robot-monster fights.
This is the part where we put games to a quick 20-minute test. Are they fun?
What started out as a 20-minute session with Kavinsky turned into a full playthrough, but not because it’s good (or particularly long, for that matter). With each stage, I wondered how the game would change next — and whether it would get more ridiculous.
Of the six stages in Kavinsky, a free mobile title from Record Makers (available for iOS and Android), two are side-scrolling street beat-em-ups where you deliver punches and kicks and occasionally super-charged attacks, two are racing simulators where you lead the cops on a chase, and two are augmented-reality versions of the beat-em-ups levels where your goal is now to protect your dazzling red sports car. Forget why — the only sense of purpose or story you’ll get comes when the credits roll, and it’s too cheesy to believe.
Kavinsky’s animation is incredibly stylish in that ’80s throwback way, so cheesy actually works in the game’s favor. Players assume the role of a blue-haired, sunglasses-wearing bad-ass in a letterman’s jacket. But the actual gameplay is lifeless, with too-simple controls and a monotonous approach to them. The title offers gyroscopic or tilt steering for the racing levels, but it’s so sensitive that you’ll likely take your chances with the also tricky button maneuvering, which isn’t much of an improvement. Push too far to the side, and you’ll make the car fishtail.
The worst, though, are the AR levels, where the game instructs you to snap a picture of an object with considerable detail, like a magazine cover. But it’s a little silly to be fighting and defending your ride (as I did) on the top of a cooking magazine or on the game box for Halo. It feels like a cheap way to show off AR technology and little else.
Kavinsky is cool, but look past the fancy car and slicked-back hair, and you’ll find it’s lacking in substance. Just like high school.
Call of Mini Zombies 2
We’re all a little sick of zombie games by now, but let’s face it: The undead don’t just go away because you want them to. They keep coming … and coming … in even bigger numbers than before.
Call of Mini Zombies 2 (99 cents for iOS) is a fun little title where you shoot zombies in a style not unlike the cubular world of Minecraft (just not pixelated). In the first 20 minutes, you get a sense of the variety of missions, enemy types, and upgrades available, and although all you’ll essentially be doing is splattering grey matter all over the walls, at least it’s cute and wrapped up in a robust package.
Triniti Interactive’s game pokes fun at the overblown government conspiracy plot of zombie virus-spreading, but it also embraces the genre. As one of several unlockable characters (that can equip different weapons and level up), players mow down hordes of the undead, help civilians to safety, destroy ferocious zombie bosses, retrieve supplies, complete daily missions, and more. There are in-app purchases, but the flow of gold and other resources seems generous enough at first glance that you should be able to enjoy the game without them.
The auto-aim helps significantly as the controls take a little getting used to. Players use their left thumb to move and their right to switch between swiping the screen to gradually turn the camera and to hold the trigger to shoot. This can be a little cumbersome, especially in tight places.
Like many zombie games, Call of Mini Zombies 2 isn’t exactly innovative. There’s a lot of competition out there. But it is fun and an easily justified purchase at $1.
These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.
Small studio Dekko has developed a 3D-object-scanning app that enables gamers to reconstruct virtually any real-world object into Minecraft.
Crazy Taxi is now on Android. Go scare some pedestrians.
Sword & Sworcery and other iOS games are free for a limited time to celebrate the App Store’s fifth anniversary.
A controversial game called Angry Trayvon was pulled from the Google Play store.
Check out our review of Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalker.
Hasbro bought a majority stake in Paper Toss and DragonVale developer Backflip Studios.
Deus Ex: The Fall hit mobile devices.