Pacific Rim: The Video Game
"When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju."
Still on a high after seeing Pacific Rim in theaters, I found out that Xbox LIVE had an arcade title for it, so I spent the 800 MP to purchase it (and threw down a little extra so I could color my Jaegers), played it, and thought I would give out my reviews (because it has been a real long time since I've given you guys a game related review)!
Being a fighting game, plot's aren't usually expected, but this particular one takes no attempts at all to sync up with the movie or provide any plot whatsoever. This is a bit of a downer, as it'd be a nice little gem for the people who didn't get the chance to see the movie, or (heavens forbid) they pick it up long after the theatrical run has ceased and they can't remember what really happened. To this extent, we all get lucky in that the game focuses on just classic beat-em up fun in a one on one, mano a monstro fist fight to the death, causing plot to be mostly optional.
Character selection seems a bit weak at first: Three of the movies four main Jaegers make an appearance (Cherno Alpha, Gipsy Danger, and Crimson Typhoon ), and only five of the Kaiju show up (Knifehead, Leatherback, Otachi, Scunner, and Slattern). This is remedied to some extent by allowing the player to mix and match Jaeger parts in the character creation mechanic, where some RPG-lite material is added as well (allowing players to upgrade stats of different levelled parts such as Armor, Health, and Damage). Of course, all of these parts require earning money (by playing matches) or by getting them as a reward (dependant on your rank for each mission). Coloring your freshly made Jaeger, on the other hand, will cost you another Microsoft Point DLC purchase, which leaves a rather sour taste in the mouth that such a feature would be left out to cobble away at one's wallet.
Mechanics are pretty solid as far as a fighting game goes, with buttons registering promptly and a bit more depth discoverable beneath the surface in the form of "heavy" attacks and the blade-mode available when using Gipsy or Crimson's arms. By all means, this is nothing that will shock and awe any serious fans of the genre, and the lack of button-combination specials and throw maneuvers, as well as fancier counter-attacks may leave them wanting more than what this game has to offer. Special attacks come in the form of an energy bar that charges as damage is dealt or taken, allowing one of the two specials (dependant on the parts) to be used - such as a four punch combo that can knock an opponent prone. The latter of the special moves - aptly named a "Final Assault" - can only be used when said bar is at 90% (which requires both Jaeger pilots to be alive), and if it connects will instantly KO the opponent.
Ranged attacks can be performed with a simple button press, and all attacks are tied to the energy bar, which builds as you land hits as well, so for the most part as long as a small break is taken now and then during assaults you never need worry about not having the energy for something. Health bars seem to be the biggest difference between the Jaegers and Kaiju - the latter having a single one, while the former has two separate ones (one for each pilot). This can be a bit of an issue, as when one pilot dies, the Jaeger then loses the use of one arm, as well as having it's energy gauge capped at 50% (meaning Final Assaults are no longer possible). Outside of that, the general play style of each character feels rather much the same with only minor differences (such as damage dealt or how slow it moves).
The game is also rather short - clocking in at a mere 3 hours depending on your grasp of the controls and general enthusiasm towards tinkering with your character of choice and staying away from multiplayer. There are two single player modes: Normal and Survival, the only major difference between the two being that survival doesn't restore your health between the rounds in the "stage" like normal does. Multiplayer is a bit of a different beast altogether, and I had a very limited stay there before I found out that not being a very competition-oriented person, it was not a good place for me to be. Whereas most of the single player experience was a breeze after I understood the controls, the first multiplayer battle I engaged in rewarded my best efforts with a mere scratch upon my Kaiju opponent as he rained complete and utter devastation upon my poor hopeless mechanical frame. Round two, however, ended even faster than the first. Although it is possible that I just ran into a prodigal son of Kaiju combat, it's equally as plausible that the matchmaking system just isn't set to handle your actual skill level, instead focusing on the points used or level of equipment instead.
With that in mind, survival mode did lend to me a feel for what it must have been like to be the Jaeger teams on-screen, with my only desire that it could link up in some form of cooperative mode that linked two controllers similar to how the Pons system would Drift two pilots (Yeah, I'm a nerd, deal with it). Visually, the game is up to snuff with a lot of other games on the market, although you won't notice so much from the backgrounds as you will the characters (only 4 different backdrops for the fights exist, causing the scenery to get very repetitive fast). Final call on this is that it would have been nice to see it go for a little cheaper, or have a few extra features to set it apart from the crowd, but overall it's an alright game. If it's worth the 800 MP cost is debatable from person to person, but it did mostly satisfy that itch I had for a Pacific Rim game experience since watching the movie.