In this world of tweets, statuses, apps, pins, and AMAs, the movie tie-ins are becoming as important as the movies themselves. MGM Studios and App developer Glu know that and decided to make a game that lets you become RoboCop. While there are some annoyances in the game, it’s still fun to play.
The game starts off with some training exercises. Your guides are two scientists who helps rebuild you; one who wants to help you, and one who hopes to see you fail.
You’re given missions to complete by eliminating all targets; they can consist of gang members, snipers, humanoid robots, or even giant, rocket-launching robots. The gameplay is a lot like Chrono Trigger or House of the Dead, where you’re in control while stationary and need to fire the guns. When it’s time to move, the game will move you to the next section.
The controls are pretty simple- dragging your finger around the left side of the screen allows you to look around. Pressing the right side of the screen and focusing on a target will shoot. Aside from the bad guys, you can also shoot barrels and cars, which will blow up, and wooden crates, which fall apart, giving you open shots at enemys.
The rest of the screen contains helpful auxiliary functions and information. You have your health at the top, a left or right arrow to move between structures you can hide behind (which you use to dodge snipers), and 4 buttons designed to help you during fights: a health boost, air support, scan the area, and focus.
While the first two are pretty self explanatory, the latter two might need some clarification. Scan will highlight all objects that can be shot and will help expose enemies that may have otherwise been hidden. Focus will allow you to slow down time, tap up to three targets and fire at them quickly. If you’re getting overwhelmed, Focus will help you. Take note, though, you can only use that once before it takes time to recharge.
When you complete a mission, you gain cash and gold, which you can use on suit and gun upgrades. These upgrades are laid out link a map you traverse through, unlocking new sections and gaining new skills.
For the suit, there are two types of upgrades: Health and Focus. There is some ambiguity with what the Focus upgrades do. You gain percentage points with each upgrade. My assumption is that once you reach a certain level, you’ll get more taps to take out enemies.
For the weapons, there are a lot more upgrades that can take place. You can upgrade Damage done, Accuracy, Rate of Fire, and Overheat Time. The longer you use your guns, the more they overheat, leaving you exposed while they cool down. Overheat Time will increase the time it take for your guns to overheat.
You can also purchase and upgrade your guys. There are several categories of guns, including SMG, Shotguns, Railguns, and more. While the other guns look really cool, they are grossly expensive, so I haven’t had much opportunity to play with them.
There are some frustrations associated with the game. The first is that there are nodes in the upgrade map that have to be unlocked in order for you to purchase more upgrades. What’s annoying about this is that it costs money and you essentially get nothing out of it except for moving to the next node, which costs more money. You are also not guaranteed to unlock the node; you need to spend these blue coins you get in some missions to “increase your chances.” This section of the map is also accompanied by a reminder that you can spend real money to get more gold or blue coins.
I understand the app needs to make money and that it’s free, but I also understand that this game is basically a big ad for the movie; there needs to be some sort of trade-off. I wouldn’t mind if special, pay-only guns existed in the game for example. However, they are making it more difficult for core gameplay.
Even more frustrating than that is when you’re at the upgrade screen (a neutral screen in between missions), occasionally full screen ads for other games pop-up. Again, it’s understood that I’m pretty much playing an ad for a movie. Ads for other stuff are not only a bit tacky and take you out of the game mindset, but they are completely intrusive.
A solution, if Glu needs to make money on the game, is to charge to make the game ad-free or include an add at the beginning, before you actually start playing, not while you’re trying to do something.
Finally, I’m not entirely sure about this, but it seems like the entire game is training missions. I played for quite a while and never left the simulation lab. That just seemed a little strange for a game that ties into a movie.
Even with the frustrations, the game is a lot of fun to play, and is easy and intuitive. It doesn’t overly-complicate anything and you can play actively while upgrading or trying to achieve a goal. You can also play passively while in between tasks or waiting in line. This is a generally good game all around, and I would recommend it, especially since it’s free. Just know there are some little annoying caveats.