Hobbies are usually taken up to momentarily escape the stresses of our daily routine. Gaming however, is a peculiar thing. You can acheive sheer euphoria when you conquer a devious boss, but experience a level of anger worthy of phone-throwing when you just can’t pass that one certain level. No matter the amount of stress, we always come back for more.
This is where we find Pacific Rim, a game that features an intriguing setting and story, featuring giant robots (Jaeger) fighting Godzilla-like creatures (Kaiju). Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t compliment the movie as one would have hoped. It’s repetitive and fairly shallow, with controls and combat frustrating enough to make you consider abandoning gaming. Even with the negatives, there is something about Pacific Rim that always had me coming back for more. It brought out a level of determination that had me muttering, “I’m going to beat this game, even if its the last thing I do.”
If you have watched the trailers and read the interviews you are probably well aware that Pacific Rim features a combat system very, very similar to Infinity Blade. Swipe the screen left and right to attack, tap arrows left and right to dodge, and then hold a shield button to block. The game attempts to deliver competent controls, but for the most part they come off as sluggish and at times unresponsive. The Jaeger gives out punches with the appropriate swipes, but they come off with a slight delay.
Dodging is where the game really delivers a high level of frustration. In some cases tapping to dodge is unresponsive, leaving you vulnerable to attack, and in others you may dodge correctly but as you come back to an attacking stance the Kaiju will throw a swift punch that is virtually avoidable. When a game relies on such quick and responsive controls to be enjoyable, delayed and unresponsive controls is anger inducing.
Pacific Rim tries to add to the Infinity Blade formula by including special attacks and weapon attacks. These additions do give combat an added touch that helps break the otherwise repetitive gameplay. These attacks and other aspects about your Jaeger can be upgraded with in-game currency, allowing you to level up and grow stronger. But money earning and leveling up occur at a very slow pace, perhaps purposely so, to help promote in-app purchase for more currency.
But again, despite all that, Pacific Rim has a certain draw, even with its obvious flaws. The game features good graphics, nice Jaeger and Kaiju animations, and a variety of playable Jaeger. The best feature lies in the specific objectives for each battle, which can range from using a weapon attack to win, or complete a battle without taking damage. Complete the objectives to score higher, and if you fail you can always go back to a battle at any point, giving the game a dose of replayabilty.
At times Pacific Rim can be fun, but other times I just had to take a break before I cursed all that is sacred. Good graphics, a catchy concept, and objective-based battles are unfortunatley offset by iffy controls, repetitive gameplay, and questionable IAPs. Even as I came back for more until victory was mine, the total package feels lackluster and leaves me wondering what could have been.