Monday night I was at the WWE Raw/Smackdown/Saturday Morning Slam/Main Event tapings here in Washington D.C. (Five+ hours of wrestling…oy) and one of the things they repeatedly plugged was a new freemium iOS game called Rockpocalypse. I figured it couldn’t be worse than WWE Betrayal, right? Plus it was free so I downloaded it. After spending a few days with it, here are ten quick thoughts on the game.
1. First of all, this is NOT a wrestling game. It’s a weird one-on-one fighting game where you only play as the Rock as he takes on numerous assailants in the backlot of a Hollywood Studio. The plot is that something has happened on the set to where everyone has gone murderously psychotic except for The Rock and he has to fight his way through the studio, making sure no one gets out. It’s not Shakespeare by any means, and you only really discover the plot through hidden files littered throughout the stages, but it’s serviceable if trite.
2. Each stage starts off with one of several quotes from The Rock, which is always nice to hear. The lines are sometimes nonsensical such as, “I hope you like dessert, because The Rock’s about to feed you some thunder cookies bee-yoch.” What the hell does that even mean? The only voice acting in the game comes from Dwayne Johnson, but you’ll only hear a one-liner at the start of a level, when you earn a slam attack (random), or when you damage an enemy enough. The only other noises are one of two musical tracks and the sound of something making contact with something else. Generally a fist, weapon, or foot to the face.
3. Visually the game is a complete mess. Sure your character looks like The Rock. All the opponents are weird generic looking characters and everyone is animated horribly. There are times when the opponent should be stunned, but it’s still showing the animation for blocking. There are times when you take out an enemy and it takes the game several seconds to realize he’s out of health and should fall down. The game looks mediocre at best and it’s complete with frame rate and animation detection issues.
4. Playing Rockpocalypse isn’t very much fun either. Each stage pits The Rock against one or more enemies (in succession, not all at once). You have to get through them all with your single life bar. Not a problem except for the fact move detection is some of the worst I’ve ever seen in a game. I’d go for a block or dodge and my guy wuld just stand there for several seconds, get it, and then do the requested move. The same thing happens sometimes for offense. You go for an uppercut and throw a right haymaker, or go for a left haymaker and throw a kick. It’s a damn good thing this game is free or I’d be incensed at how deplorable both the move detection and the lag between command and it actually occurring on the screen are. For shame!
5. The controls are simple enough in theory. Swipe from left to right or right to left to throw a haymaker, up to down to kick and down to up to throw an uppercut. Swipe left to right or right to left to block a punch and dodge occurs by tapping anywhere on the screen save characters. Of course, the game often confuses if you are blocking or punching and then there is the massive lag between when you do a command and the game recognizing it. So expect to try to block, only to have The Rock stand there, get hit and then block or accidentally punch (it’s a toss-up which you will get) after the fact. As I’ve said, the move detection and response times are brutal.
6. You can find coins on the screen before a battle or earn them by defeating opponents. Coins are then used to purchase new gear for the Rock. Choices include Fists/Weapons (do more damage), Shirts (more health), pants (more stamina, which is how often you can block or dodge) and shoes (chance of a special move). Coins are earned slowly but you do get enough that you really shouldn’t ever need to buy any via in-app purchases. If the enemy in the current stage is too hard, you can always replay an earlier stage and grind away until you have enough coins. For those who want their Rock super strong, you can buy those coins, but then you still have to deal with control issues up the wazoo.
7. Everything has experience points. Your items and The Rock himself. When you level The Rock up, you get two or three points (it varies) to spend on stats. When an item levels up…nothing happens. You just get MAXIMUM XP on the item and can’t earn anymore. I’ve yet to see what XP does for an item. Kind of a weird but useless function.
8. A more expensive purchase you probably will need to buy coins for are skills. These cost at least 1,000 coins and are super abilities for The Rock. For example, to gain “Piercing,” which lets you do 5% of your move’s damage even when it is blocked costs 2,500 coins – to start. Ouch. So like most FTP or freemium games, they have found a way to nickel and dime you here. You don’t need to buy skills, but in later stages you’ll have to either buy coins or grind previous stages repeatedly.
9. Occasionally you’ll earn a slam. When this happens, a few circles with the word “tap” in them will appear on screen. Tap all the spaces and The Rock will…do a headbutt or something else anticlimactic. It’s not like a Rock Bottom (although he does do that the first time you do a slam in the Tutorial, but never again) or a power bomb. It’s just a regular looking attack that doesn’t even appear to do any more damage than a regular move. My advice is to not worry about Slams and just boost your Attack and Health so you can stay alive without purchasing coins.
10. all in all, Rockpocalypse is a pretty terrible game in all respects. It’s cute for about five minutes until you realize the game is extremely repetitive, ugly to look at and has some of the worst control detection I’ve ever seen in an iOS game. No, stay far away from this one. Sure, you can download it to experience it for yourself. It IS free after all, but honestly, this is one of those times where I’ve downloaded a free app and I feel like I paid too much for it. That’s…pretty awful when you think about it. This really is up there with WWF Betrayal as one of the worst WWE related video games ever to come out.