'Men in Black 3' game: Let's hope the movie is this good

Gameloft's tie-in for Android and iOS isn't the one-note alien shooter you'd expect. Instead, it's a rich resource-management simulation with turn-based combat.

Build your MIB agency with the resources you collect by completing missions.
Build your MIB agency with the resources you collect by completing missions. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

The summer movie season is officially under way, and that can only mean one thing: movie tie-in season is also under way.

Exhibit A (or should I say Exhibit K): "Men in Black 3," which opens in theaters Friday, just got the app treatment. Gameloft's Men in Black 3 is available now for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.

Obviously any game based on the MIB franchise is going to involve a lot of running and gunning, right? Wrong. Men in Black 3 combines resource management with turn-based combat. And there's way more depth and replay value here than you'd expect from a movie tie-in.

As the new agent on the block, it's your job to manage the MIB agency. You'll train agents, develop weapons and gadgets, expand the agency with new rooms, and fight aliens on the streets of New York -- in both 2012 and 1969. (Hope that's not a spoiler; anyone who's seen the movie trailer knows the plot involves time travel.)

Lookin' good, 1969!
Lookin' good, 1969! Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

As you complete various tasks, you earn money, energy, experience points, and other things you need to build various rooms, heal your agent, recruit other agents, buy new weapons, and so on.

Some missions take time to finish (in some cases a lot of time), but you can speed them up by using Temporal Pulse Recharge -- one tap and the mission is over. The game gives you about a dozen T-Pulses to start; you can buy more via in-app purchasing. For example, T-Pulse 1 gives you 20 TPs for $1.99, whereas T-Pulse 2 gives you 53 for $4.99. It's the freemium model at work.

In many respects, Men in Black 3 reminds me of the world-building Simpsons: Tapped Out (which, unfortunately, has been removed from the App Store because of overwhelming demand), but with some combat thrown in for good measure.

That combat plays out via turns: each agent shoots, then takes fire from the alien. It's a last-man-standing kind of thing that's fun, especially as you beef up your weapon and gadget inventory, but all the tapping, waiting, and tapping again gets a bit repetitive.

The game looks gorgeous, but I don't love its cheesy '80s-arcade music. The real disappointment: no voices. You won't hear Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, or anyone else. I think that would have enhanced the experience, much as it did with Simpsons: Tapped Out, but the game offers only music and sound effects.

I don't normally go in for this kind of game, but Men in Black 3 delivers tons of fun and hours of it.

 

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