With movie games, the less said the better. Games based upon hot, upcoming movies have potential, but thanks to rushed development times are usually met with negative reviews. While some movie adaptations have been up to the quality standard set by Spider Man 2 , which arguably redefined what it meant to be an open-world sandbox, others are up to the quality standard set by the first ever movie game E.T. However, today we are met with an odd case in the Pacific Rim Game (PR). I have some issues, but is there a chance that PR is actually enjoyable? Let’s find out.
Rock Em’ Sock Em’ Jaegers
Right when I picked game this up, I had little hope. Developed by Yukes, who is mostly known for their WWE games, PR was released with little hype and zero promotion. However, jumping into my first match, it reminded me of Godzilla Destroy All Monsters Melee for the GameCube. If this sounds exciting, then well, it is. Sure, it is nowhere near as fun due to the lack of truly destructive environments, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a giant robot/monster fighting game. Each character can attack using their left or right arm using the X and Y buttons respectively. In addition, every character has a different special ability with some having a different stance that changes their special. Attacking and being aggressive builds energy which allows the user power moves and fatal assaults. Being defensive by guarding and dodging reduces your energy, thus preventing you from really hurting your opponent. The fighting in PR, while not exactly unique, is fun enough to make couch versus mode extremely entertaining. My initial impressions on the online multiplayer led me to believe that it wasn't a throw away mode. Starting up online, you choose between 3 companies. Whatever company you fight with (and win) for will give you different rewards depending on which one you chose. However PR’s multiplayer is flawed thanks to unbalanced characters and a (seemingly) pay-to-win model. More on that later.
Now that we’ve discussed the gameplay, let’s talk price . For ten dollars you gain access to: five playable characters (Gipsy Danger, Cherno Alpha, Crimson Typhoon, Knife Head and Leather Back), two arenas, a single player campaign, versus mode, online multiplayer and the ability to customize a Jaeger. For the price, the amount of content is fairly decent. Yukes gets away with the price by having a plethora of DLC. This includes characters for four dollars each, additional arenas, customizations parts and most shockingly, additional experience points and “boost items”. While many may find it insulting that Striker Eureka is DLC, what is more disturbing to player is the perceived play-to-win model with “boosts”. These “boosts” are reminiscent of gems from Street Fighter X Tekken (SFXT). Gems would allow one to purchase items with real money, that would put themselves at an unfair advantage against others players. However, boosts last for 30 seconds and then are gone forever whereas gems would be activated upon meeting a certain criteria and never expire. However, boosts don’t break the game.
When playing online against other players, you have the option of sorting between boosters and non boosters. This was a feature that not even SFXT has, even though gems are banned from competitive play. Furthermore, you can actually obtain boosts just by completing in-game missions. To take it a step beyond, Yukes seemingly acknowledges that boosting is rubbish. The PR leaderboard shows each players boosting percentile. For example, whoever is number two on the leaderboard has a zero percent boosting rate, while #1 has an over 50% boosting rate. The main problem isn’t exactly boosts but the DLC “abilities.” These “abilities” are permanent stat changes to your character. Bonus attack, armor, speed, whatever. If you go online and face a guy with 5 abilities and you’re only rocking one, you simply will not win. If two players of equal skill fought each other, the one with the bonus abilities would win. But it does beg the question – with all of this DLC, why not just go completely free to play?
PR could have gone two other ways. First, it could have gone completely free to play like the upcoming Killer Instinct for the Xbox One. For example, you would start with only one character, Gipsy Danger, and would have to buy all the other characters separately. More so, it could be much more pay-to-win, where you would receive even less experience per fight and would never obtain boosts through regular means. While I’m grateful they didn't, why not just make it a 40 dollar game and put it in stores with no DLC at all? Considering all the bad movie games that are released in stores, we finally get a decent (albeit flawed) movie game, and it’s just sitting in the Xbox Arcade. For 10 bucks, you get a fun fighting game that you and your buddies can play every once in a while. But, with an extremely flawed multiplayer and DLC that should have been included in the base purchase, I cannot in good faith recommend this title to anyone but the most hardcore of Pacific Rim fans.
Pacific Rim gets two overpriced DLC packs, out of five.