Maybe you’re one of the millions of fans who helped make the nearly direct-to-DVD Boondock Saints film a cult hit. Or maybe you just like to play iPhone games where you move in one direction and shoot in another. No matter who you are, you’ll want to think carefully before shelling out the money for this highly disappointing movie-based game.
Boondock Saints, the mobile game, starts off promisingly with authentic licensed Celtic punk music that fits the violent Irish atmosphere. Bagpipes, accordions, and guitars all mingle on the soundtrack to get you excited to start blasting away some bad guys. It doesn’t even matter that these tracks only last a minute or so, and then repeat– they’re still a lot of fun to listen to.
Become a marked man.
After a short introductory cutscene, which shows off the game’s cool Chinatown Wars-inspired heavy-line comic art, you’ll find yourself in a tattoo parlor. This is where the two Saints of the game, Connor and Murphy, get inked to commemorate each massacre they cause. You can then jump into the missions by touching a bead on a rosary that’s hanging in the corner.
At this point, we were mighty impressed by the attention paid to the Boondock Saints characters and style. The music, artwork, and clever level select menus all indicated that this game was heading in the right direction. But then we made a classic error: We started to play the actual game.
We really wish we hadn’t. Boondock Saints is a twin-stick shooting game where the twin-stick shooting is dreadful. Every character moves sluggishly, meandering around the screen as if they were on a casual stroll. You’d never guess that these characters were engaged in a life-or-death gun battle. Your default pistols have a freakishly short range, so you’ll have to be within arms’ length of a bad guy to shoot them, which gives them a chance to get in a few hits with a baseball bat or chain.
For Boondock Saints devotees, this app’s gameplay is sacrilege.
Enemies slowly stream in three or four at a time, and never in enough numbers to get the drop on you if you keep moving. You can pick up loot from fallen enemies like cash, drugs, and bling, which can be used to buy more effective weapons between levels. With just a machine gun, shotgun, and superior set of pistols to use, the game’s arsenal is definitely lacking. We did enjoy having the stun grenade to play with, which sends enemies into a goofy seizure as if they had just been electrified.
Sadly, Boondock Saints’ appeal quickly falls apart any time you start playing the actual game. Between the game’s 14 missions, you’ll switch between a few different characters, get some backstory from the Saints’ friend Romeo and their father Noah, and even hear a few jokes from a character named Rocco. How the game manages to succeed with the unnecessary window dressing and utterly fail in the gameplay department is mystifying to us.
Boondock Saints is a pretty big disappointment, whether you’re buying it for the movie license or just because you’re hoping for a fun shooter. While the graphics and sound production are pretty good, it’s unlikely anyone will enjoy actually playing this poorly-designed game. There are much better shooters elsewhere on the App Store, so skip this one unless you’re more interested in the characters than the gameplay.