Review: Giant Fighting Robots 8
Giant Fighting Robots ($4.99 on sale in the App Catalog) is like MechWarrior for your Pre, but without any of that pesky "plot" to bore you. It’s a fun game to be sure, but does the limited amount of gameplay in this accelerometer-controlled robot combat simulator, when compared to some of the other big name 3D titles in the App Catalog, justify its $10 asking price? Read on to discover our exciting conclusion and video review!
Giant Fighting Robots (or an easier on the fingers GFR from here on out) is brought to you by Laminer Research, the company responsible for the handful of bite-sized, $10 simulators including currently populating the App Catalog that include X-Plane, X-Plane Racing, Apollo Lander and others. As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, there really isn’t much of a plot here beyond: Aliens are invading; defend against them! Since plot isn’t a factor here, gameplay (all of about 4 hours on the easier settings) is meant to be extended by replaying the “campaign” consisting of 10 - 15 missions on different difficulty level.
Though limited in scope, I’ve found GFR to rank amongst 3D titles I’ve enjoyed the most in webOS. Since humanity is of course woefully under prepared when the aliens attack, you start out operating a fairly rudimentary cargo-class ATAW (All Terrain Attack Walker). As you progress though the campaign you unlock more advanced weapons beyond the starter auto-cannon, and heavier duty ATAW’s. Before each mission you can outfit your ATAW with a number of weapons and core components depending on its capabilites. Each class of ATAW has a specific weight capacity, so you have to carefully choose the load out you want for the mission – you have to choose the weapon layout, the engine, reactor, battery, armor and jet system you think will give you the best chances for surviving.
If you’ve played around with (or read our review of) the X-Plane series of simulators, then you’ll be somewhat familiar with the control scheme. You’re in a first person point of view that’s controlled by your device’s accelerometer with forward/reverse throttle to the left, a torso panning control on the bottom, and weapon controls and a jet toggle to the right.
The battles are interesting enough, if not a little monotonous as you get into the later hours of gameplay. You spawn with your selected load out and, depending on the difficulty level you’ve selected, can face several shielded enemies at once. The formula is simple from here: based on your weapon configuration you either get as close as possible as soon as possible to unload your close range weapons, or keep your distance to fire your long range weapons.
Accelerometer based games can tend towards the obnoxious side of the spectrum because you constantly have to hold your phone at a pre-configured angle to the ground. This, thankfully, is not the case with GFR as you're able to set where "zero" is, meaning that if you want play while laying in bed or while hanging upside down, you're able to.
There's also a multi-player mode in GFR, but since it only works over a local network and I'm the only person I know that owns a Pre, I unfortunately wasn't able to test it.
Can I say if GFR is worth the usual $10 asking price for the game? It's hard to say – once the novelty wears off and you’ve played through the (relatively short) game once, it’ll become one of those apps that you’ll rarely touch. But that first time through is a lot of fun, and priced at $5 during Palm's "Half-Time" sale, I'd say sure. Give 'er a download.