[Review] The Hunger Games: Panem Rising

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The Hunger Games: Panem Rising on Google Play and iTunes
by Kabam
Price: free, offers in-app purchases

So, I’ve spent several days playing the long-awaited Panem Rising, a Hunger Games movie tie-in created by a fruitful Kabam – Lionsgate partnership. I’ve reached Level 10, and I have some super rare cards like Katniss Everdeen, Finnick Odaire, Beetee and Effie in my three squads. I’ve liberated Districts 10 and 3 from Peace Keepers, done a great deal of character leveling up, evolving and training, fought on the Stadium and read through game chats to be able to come up with a definitive resolution. The game is ok for the younger fans of the Hunger Games franchise (franchise in relation to the HG almost sounds a blasphemy), but it feels generic in most aspects, uninspiring and quite dull.

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Overview

Firs off, I am a great fan of the books and the movies, and having found myself unable to wait an entire year for the first part of the Mockingjay, I took the leap and listened to both audio books of the Mockingjay Part One and Part Two, or whatever the division was. So, knowing who lives and who dies, I feel I can make it to November, 21st, and assess the movie from a critical point of view.

That said, I could not have been happier when I heard Kabam was doing the movie tie-in with Lionsgate. Alas, the outcome tastes like popcorn – regular, genetically modified, lacking in life and substance.

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Gameplay

HGPR is a card battler and card collecting sort of RPG. The first thing you do when you launch it is choose your District. I am not sure if all players are presented with the same choice, but I preferred District 3 over District 10, and happened to become Beetee. For those of you who still don’t know, after the daring escape from the Arena, Beetee is not too well with his health and rides a wheel chair, which is even more stupefying when he goes out for a patrolling mission.

Remember the recent release by Kabam The Lord of the Rings: Legends, and how you got tired of tapping that ‘Explore’ button? Expect to do just the same in the Hunger Games, but with even less thrill. Kabam did not invest much into fresh ideas, and missions in HGPR go like this:

  • tap Explore
  • get loot
  • tap explore
  • get a card
  • tap explore
  • tap explore
  • battle peace keepers
  • skip the battle process because it’s utterly boring
  • collect loot
  • go to the next stage and do the same thing over again.

I don’t know what upsets me more – the fact that you can’t move and look around as you explore (you simply look at the same static picture throughout the entire mission), or the fact that the battles are nominal. If your collective squads’ points outnumber the opponents’ – you are victorious.

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Perks

In between the missions, or even in the middle of them, you can edit your squads, train and evolve your character cards, recruit more heroes. This constitutes half of the gameplay because you can’t ignore leveling up.

Heroes is probably the only aspect that will keep you playing for some time. I might have been lucky to get the super rare Katniss card on my first log in because I got Finnick only when I got to level 10. Can’t say I was overwhelmed when I got Effie, she still looks like a bad clown from Stephen King’s ‘It.’

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That said, I see users complaining they don’t want to be Beetee, which I assume happens pretty often.

The squads, when assembled of the specific team members, have a bonus striking power. For example, if you combine Beeetee with his District 3 female companion (the tic-toc one), you get a combo. Likewise, if you combine Haymitch, Finnick, Katniss, Cinna and Peeta, you get a special combo, too. On the other hand, it will probably take you ages to collect those cards.

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The majority of cards, though, are hair stylists, handbag stylists, fruit collectors, factory workers, fancy dressed fur ladies and ladies who knit. There is also a ton of minor workers with tech, gems and overall, the people you collect are of professions pertaining to the District you are currently purging from peace keepers.

Once I even recruited two peace keepers who turned to rebellions’ side. Recruiting heroes in the shop costs you pins and coins, and some packs can bring up to ten heroes. A pin can bring you a common card, or a super rare one.

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As you Explore, you collect coins, pins, endurance, energy and cards. In my experience, I never ran out of those to keep me playing, so there is no limit on the hours you can spend playing other than your eye sight and patience.

UI

I found it very inconvenient the way you get to the Vault after the mission is done, or after you collect some heroes in the mission. For some reason, the collected heroes need to be collected again from the Vault, and you can access the Vault from Squad -> Edit -> Vault, instead of Home screen.

Also, I don’t know why Squad and Upgrade are different menus instead of one.  Other than that, UI is pretty standard.

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IAPs

One of my favorite YouTubers who screeencast mobile gameplays, Zack Scott, said in his tweeter ‘F2P increases player count and the brand awareness, ad rev, merch deals, etc that follow.’ Can’t argue with that, but when I look at the cost of some of the IAPs here, I tend to agree more with South Park’s ‘addictive personality’ and ‘just barely fun’ view of F2P, especially the Explore – Collect – Spend – Improve – Explore and so on RPG loop.

  • 350 Gems $4.99
  • 700 Gems $9.99
  • 1400 Gems Tier 20 $19.99
  • 2100 Gems $29.99

Just like South Park explained, there are tons of in-game currencies, each responsible for something different – energy, endurance, coins, pins, golden sparks, and it doesn’t help knowing what they serve for.

That said, I see no point paying to do anything faster in this game because ultimately, it is just ‘barely fun.’

Design

The cards are great, and some of the heroes look more like their actors than others. The cards are somewhat animated, and when you zoom in, you can see Finnick’s hair waving with the wind.finnick

As for the environments,  they are static. If in the Lord of the Rings: Legends you actually moved through the look-alike forests, Panem Rising has you standing in front of one picture until you clear the mission. The images look like they have been taken from the movie and re-mastered with Photoshops’ oil painting effect. In other words, the design is a set of movie screenshots.

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Replay Value

You will play as much as your ‘addictive personality’ will tell you to play, and nothing can change that. There is only one thing that can hook you – super rare cards with faces of Jennifer Lawrence and her co-stars.

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Pros

  • The hero cards look like the actors in the movies
  • The gameplay is easy
  • Hero leveling up is easy
  • The story is that of the Mockingjay Part One
  • You can get Katniss right from the start if you are lucky
  • You can play without spending real money
  • You can play as long as you want to without running out of energy

Cons

  • All the missions are the same
  • There is no movement, no action, no real battling
  • A ton of common cards I don’t even know why they were created, if not to keep you grinding for super-rare ones. Surely, not for the sake of graphic art.
  • Vault takes several taps to access and makes no sense why it even exists
  • The gameplay becomes repetitive and boring as the novelty wears off
  • Chat can take too much screen real estate on smaller devices, and it is flooded with obscene and nonsense talk

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Conclusion

Hunger Games: Panem Rising is a clone of a clone of the first successful CCG RPG. Kabam took the tried out, generic model of collecting rare hero cards from the loads of common cards, spiced it up with card evolving and squad combos, and forgot to add fun and substance pertaining to the Hunger Games idea. As user-friendly and content-rich as it is, the game lacks the Hunger Games factor – authenticity, surprise, battle, and soul. The bottom line is – it’s ok to kill some time, but it’s not the Hunger Games entry worthy of its franchise.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Gameplay
Design
IAPs
Replay Value
Fun Factor