Developer: Gaming Corps
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Chronicles of Riddick brand has proven to be one of the more unexpectedly awesome film-to-game crossovers in recent memory. Xbox’s Escape from Butcher Bay, and the later cross-platform Assault on Dark Athena were shining examples of how films could translate perfectly to a home console. So when it was recently announced that there were more Riddick games in the pipeline, it was highly unexpected to see that the target platform would be iOS. Can Riddick manage to creep his way into mobile gamers’ hearts, or should he have stayed within the comfy confines of the analog controller?

IMG_0029There are few voices in Hollywood that are more iconic than that of Vin Diesel. So it would be easy to assume that Diesel’s dulcet tones would be all over square inch of Riddick: The Merc Files, right? Wrong. In fact, aside from his very distinguishable likeness, there is very little to tie this game to the character or even the film universe as a whole. What remains is a buggy stealth-action title that has briefly redeemable moments interspersed throughout the gameplay.

Riddick is one with the dark. With that in mind, the core mechanics of Merc Files revolve around stealthfully attempting to clear a stage three separate ways: escaping, executing a specific target, or fetching an item and reaching the extraction point. When in the dark, the player is virtually invisible to the troops patrolling an area. Using this to the utmost advantage, sneaking up behind these unsuspecting militiaman, and dispatching them one-by-one is the easiest way to attain a sure victory. The problem is that every mode of completing a stage can be accomplished the exact same way, making the each replay feel rather redundant.

IMG_0028As far as perspective goes, the isometric camera does wonders to highlight the combat to its fullest. Despite being framed well, the camera controls would intermittently spaz out, especially after Riddick had been spotted. Naturally, this was the time when the most control would be necessary. Frustrations would continue to mount when the inevitable occurrence of visual glitches would result in all player control freezing or an objective like an exit location never being shown during a fetch mission.

Clocking in at a mere sixteen stages, Riddick: The Merc Files is rather light on content for a $2.99 game. Sure, missions can be replayed a total of three different ways, but when the core goal each time is to clear every baddy from a room it plays like mission padding for an already abbreviated experience. Some of the pure elation of pulling off a perfect stealth kill is still there, but the excitement tends to be derailed by several technical issues. This title may have been better served spending a bit more time in the dark, just to shore up the final product.

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