Joy of joys! We have another god forsaken movie tie-in game. This time it is for Will Smith’s new movie After Earth. Now, just because the critics have almost universally panned the film as being a dull piece of rubbish doesn’t mean that the iOS game has to follow its lead. It might be good. Really, it might. So let’s have a look and see if After Earth for the iOS explores new territory or if will make you want to feed your head to an alien.
As you would probably expect, After Earth is simply a reskinned running game with tiny little tassels over its naughty bits to make you think it is something new.
Surprisingly though, it is not an endless running game. The developers decided not to simply slap on a new skin like Buffalo Bill and instead decided to tinker with the innards for better or worse.
The graphics are suitably sharp and you’ll find no complaints from me on the visuals. They look grandiose and fit well with the aesthetic of the movie. They are varied enough to keep from you getting bored and each level has its own distinct feel even if they are somewhat sewn together from a bag of parts. What I mean is that each level has a couple of sections that appear in different orders. You get the regular temple run section, the sidescrolling running section, and the flying through the air section. Mix and match and slap on some graphics and you have a new level.
The most interesting aspect added to the game was a bit of combat. You can tap on the screen and swipe at enemies. There are even boss fights for you to engage in at the end of certain levels.
Now, all of this would work well and good if the controls were responsive; which they’re not. The controls are severely lacking for the style of gameplay that this title is trying to achieve. The joy of a good running game is simple and responsive controls that work without you having to think. You work off of reaction time and instinct. The controls in After Earth are laggy and unreliable. Many times when you want to switch paths or make a hairpin turn, the game whips out your weapon instead. You go slamming through an obstacle and lose a bit of your health. It all ends up with you walking away frustrated. Nothing is worse than losing when it isn’t your fault.
If the controls were cleaned up and made to play nicely with the graphics, then we might have something halfway decent on our hands. Maybe the combat could be limited to specific sections of the level where it is only sidescrolling and your gestures can’t be confused as easily.
As it stands, the controls don’t work very well and aren’t nearly as responsive as they need to be for such a fast paced game. It does introduce some interesting ideas to the running game genre, but for now it is a somewhat broken big movie tie-in cash rake. But hey, it is only $0.99 and that is a lot cheaper than a movie ticket, so you’ll have less to regret.