- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Massive mechanical men battle monsters within the confines of Apple’s gaming tablet in the third-person fighting game Pacific Rim (Reliance Big Entertainment, rated: 9+, reviewed on iPad 3, $4.99).

Of course, based on director Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi movie currently blasting away in theaters, this game of the same name requires a player control a large armored, robotic warrior named a Jaeger as it challenges a variety of multi-story creatures called Kaiju looking to wipe humanity off of the planet.

Marshall Stacker Pentescost of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps delivers through the Global Kaiju Alert System text messages on the iPad screen describing the graveness of the situation. He takes a player on an over 30-mission campaign around cities near the Pacific Ocean to fight brutes such as Axehead, Mutavore, Onibaba and Leatherback in solo versus solo brawls.

Tapping into the Power Ranger’s Zords technology (a human pilots a colossal mech) and the finest traditions of Japan’s stable of gigantic, nuclear-infused monsters, the film and game try to act in the finest traditions of the day when Godzilla fought Megalon.

Of the five upgradeable humanoid exoskeletons, each eventually offer distinct powers and weapons and have nicknames such as Gipsy Danger, Crimson Typhoon, Cherno Alpha, Striker Eureka and Coyote Tango.

After a Jaeger is dropped on the battlefield (dramatically lowered from cable attached to a heavy duty helicopter), the fighting strategy often requires furiously swiping a finger across the iPad’s touch screen for the mech to smack away at its opponent to the point that I though I was going to leave dents in the glass.

SEE ALSO: Zadzooks: Kingdom Rush Frontiers HD review (iPad)

The younger fan (adults will quit due to the repetition early on) must use dodging, blocking and punching to defeat a variety of Kaiju. He can also charge up a power meter (with successful attacks) and use a finger to tap an onscreen circle to unleash a stronger assault or even tap another icon to launch missiles an the enemy.

Winning offers leveling up points and being awarded some of the game’s currency, PP$ coins.

Before each battle, a player can visit Jaeger Bay to select his mech warrior, equip it with weapons (chainsaw blades and or mortar cannons were fun), purchase upgrades (inertial dampers to increase speed of melee attacks for example) and even change the color of its armor (spend some PP$). Additionally, options are available to visit K-Science labs to view trading cards of the monsters, stop by the Black Market to buy automatic air strikes and health boosts, or venture into the Pan Pacific Bank.

The bank is the in-app purchase part of the show and provides the opportunity to spend real cash to buy more coins (from 99 cents for 2000 to $99.99 for 650,000).

Veteran gamers looking for an experience similar to the popular Infinity Blade will find the attack commands sometimes clucky and unresponsive, characters getting stuck in battle and graphics that occasionally need a serious call from the collision detection doctor.

The game also throws in a Survival mode to try and beat waves of Kaiju guaranteeing bruised and bloodied thumbs and index fingers.

The glitchiness of the action and temptation to have to buy more PP$ coins to actually beat some of the tougher beasts in the later missions make it a potentially aggravating and expensive battles for a mobile gamer.

Ultimately, Pacific Rim tries hard to give fans of the movie some fun, but it makes much more sense as a freemium title (marketed for pure promotion) rather than carrying a $5 price tag.



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