Video games licensed from movies have a long and checkered history of being terrible. They tend to be nothing more than cheap tie-ins designed to ride the coattails of whatever movie they’re promoting, and seem to be made with the hopes that our excitement for the film will be enough to get us to play the game.
iOS has been fertile ground recently for movie-based games and for every decent outing like Man of Steel or Temple Run: Brave, we’ll also get ones like the unfortunate Kick-Ass or Iron Man 3 games. Disney’s latest offering, based on the blockbuster summer movie The Lone Ranger, continues the tradition of dismal mediocrity and can barely be considered a game in the first place.
The Lone Ranger is kind of, sort of, like Farmville but set in the Lone Ranger world, and is the perfect game for you if all you enjoy doing is tapping on your screen again and again and again. You follow the exploits of the Ranger as he tracks down bandits, protects a small town, and helps out the townsfolk by doing chores for them.
Every so often you’re given a “quest” to do like, say, convincing a bunch of hotel guests that there aren’t any ghosts in the building. You don’t actually do anything when you take on a quest, you simply hit a button repeatedly until the progress meter has filled up. To pacify the hotel guests, for example, you tap the “Pray” button until the game tells you you’re done and you’ve convinced the guests that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
And that’s what you’re going to be doing for 99% of the game. Someone gives you a mission to do, you can choose to accept it or not, and if you do then you tap a green button until the game tells you’ve reached your goal. Some quests require certain items for you to buy with money you earn as you play, or you may need to bribe some henchmen to help you out, but that’s as complex as they get. You just tap buttons. Sure, you have to keep track of how much energy you spend doing a quest, which is indicated on the top of your screen, but even if you run out you can always spend some silver to instantly refill your energy and continue with your task.
Boring, lazy and uninvolving, this is the kind of game where you could almost take a nap and have one of those drinking birds bob its head up and down on the screen and it would pretty much be the same as if you were actually playing it yourself.
The only times when you’ll have to rouse yourself out of your bird-assisted state of catatonia is when you duel an outlaw. These happen often, but are so boring and so repetitive that you’ll wish you could leave these to the bird as well. When a duel happens, the perspective switches to behind the Ranger’s hip. Cross hairs pop up on your opponent and you have to tap them quickly to get a hit. You just keep doing this until you win. If you miss then your opponent will get in a shot, but even if you somehow manage to lose (and it’s really tough to lose) you can always just come back later and try again.
There are also the occasional shootouts, which have you tapping on the enemies to kill them, but these don’t happen that often and don’t take much to win.
Since this is a freemium title, there are of course ways to spend your real world money or spend countless hours waiting. You have a limited supply of silver, which can be used to fill up your energy, replenish your health and ammo, or finish a quest without actually doing it, but once it’s gone it’s gone for good and you don’t get any more. You can spend anywhere from two to a hundred bucks to buy more silver, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to.
And if all that’s not enough to scare you away, the game has a tendency to reboot itself and start you over from the very beginning. Yeah, that got real old after the fourth or fifth time it happened.
The Lone Ranger is simply not a good game in any way. Not by a long shot. Even for free it’s not worth the time it costs to play it. Lifeless, ugly, and pointless, The Lone Ranger is not a game that you should waste the hard-drive space on and should be avoided by absolutely everyone.