The movie was a rather sweet tribute to Japanese robots and monsters, which has enriched the childhoods of many little boys and girls during the days before the Internet came about. It wasn’t exactly cinematic perfection, but it was still quite a treat courtesy of Guillermo del Toro. Of course, that could only be matched with the launch of a tie-in video game to couple the cheers with some groans.
There are two Pacific Rim games, one for major platforms and one for mobile platforms. This one is the bigger brother, and it does look pretty good at first glance. If you had just watched the movie, then it does pump you up to punch Kaiju right in the nose with your very own Jaeger. If you have played the Godzilla games for the PS2 and Xbox, then you should be familiar with the simplistic gameplay here, which is just about hitting the opponent until its dead.
This particular movie game seems to have all the ingredients to actually succeed since the movie itself is kind of like a video game in premise. It’s about giant robots fighting alien monsters to save humanity — that’s as video game-y of a premise as you can get without being too corny. With that said, there’s no real need for a deep storyline here, which shows potential for elegance in simplicity. With Yuke’s being the developer, it may turn out alright if its combat is a bit like the recent UFC games or the WWE games.
It’s basically a fighting game that pits Jaegars and Kaiju against each other in oversized life-or-death combat. Perhaps the big selling point of this game is that you get to have your own Jaeger that you can then customize. Unfotunately, there are only a few of them available, which dampens the fun in customization, which depends on both variety and balance to hit home. The combat system doesn’t really have much else to contend with though, just basic hitting and getting hit in a back-and-forth rock ‘em sock ‘em style pantomime.
The level designs don’t really do much to affect the gameplay, and they really stand out to begin with. It would be nice if you can throw your opponent onto buildings and other environmental elements like in the movie, but it turns out to be just window dressing at best. It could have had things like interactivity and obstacles to make the combat a bit more interesting and make level selection a bigger part of the gameplay, but they were absent here.
The multiplayer is alright for its purposes if you’re into competitive action that’s short and sweet. There is not much progression after that though, so you may not get more out of it if you want a more satisfying multiplayer experience. In fact you don’t get a lot of content aside from what’s on the surface, but at least that makes it straightforward. But that also means that you get a few Jaegars in the core roster, so you may want to wait for more, if they do come.
But that’s another bad thing about this game, which is how it depends on DLCs to give you more content, as if they intentionally held back from the very start. In the end, it’s like a freemium game that’s not actually free, and that’s pretty sad. You get additional Kaiju and other content from the DLCs with different prices, and it may not be best to spend more money on a game that you already paid for and may not really like.
There is so much untapped potential in Pacific Rim as a video game. As with most movie tie-in games, this was rushed and wasn’t able to have concepts and ideas incubate and percolate long enough to make for solid gameplay with a good bit of polish.
If you still want to give this one a try, expect to shelf out some cash to get the full experience. Otherwise, you’ll just have to make due with the bells and whistles of the base game, preferably at a discount.
Tested in Xbox 360. Final Score: 4/10