Movie tie-in games have earned their reputation for being terrible, but their track record has improved in recent years. Total Recall continues this trend by being a playable rail shooter, but it’s nothing special.
It’s hard to summarize the story, which is told in a few nearly incomprehensible comic book panels. According to the game, you play as a nameless guy trying to escape soldiers who have ambushed him at a ‘Rekall Clinic.’ The iTunes page for the game tells you that you’re playing as Douglas Quaid, and that the game follows the storyline of the upcoming Total Recall movie. Hopefully the movie will make a little more sense.
Don’t worry about taking cover.
Fortunately, rail shooters don’t require much plot. All you really have to do is look around and shoot anything that moves. When you’ve killed all the bad guys in one location, the game will push you forward to the next shootout. Get to the end of the track, and you’ll collect some in-game currency that you can use to buy better weapons, armor, and a few power-ups.
The shooting is reasonably fun. The enemies aren’t very intelligent, but they move and hide behind cover often enough to present a little challenge. You’ll have to take cover, pick off the most dangerous enemies– their accuracy is represented by the color of their gunfire, which is helpful information once you figure it out– and manage your limited supply of ammunition. The pace is a little slow, and there are only two types of enemy, but the tactical situations in each level will keep you entertained.
The scenery is also worth looking at. The environments are colorful, with plenty of depth and detail. Later levels make good use of this depth, putting your targets in distant locations, where you’ll need to zoom in with your scope to take them out.
We’ve ended up on the set of Blade Runner. Wrong remake!
Outside of combat, Total Recall is a little frustrating. Each mission recommends an appropriate weapon, but many of these weapons are only available via in-app purchase. The boosters that increase your attack damage don’t have much effect for the cost, and we found out the hard way that body armor is an expensive consumable. The game is relatively generous about giving out cash for completing missions and ‘challenge’ objectives, but you’ll be spending everything you earn and grinding to get more.
That said, the most frustrating part of Total Recall is that right now it’s only a teaser. Only eight levels of the game are playable, and Jump Games promises it will unlock more levels when the movie is released on August 3. That explains the slow pace and lack of variety in enemies, since in many ways we’re only seeing the tutorial levels.
However, it raises questions about the rest of the game. Will it be more challenging? Will there be new and different enemies to shoot? Will the rest of the story make any sense? Total Recall fans may be eager to find out, but the rest of us may want to give the rest of the game a miss.