Shoot Many Robots review
- Shoot Many Robots
Made2Game Shoot Many Robots review score: 7/10
Formats: PS3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360
Developer: Demiurge Studios
Walter Tugnut, the protagonist of Demiurge Studios’ Shoot Many Robots, is apparently not insane – despite what some of his wardrobe decisions might suggest. You see, Walter is a beer-swilling hillbilly who spent the last few years acting insane, stockpiling weapons and ammo in preparation for the robot apocalypse he was sure was approaching. And guess what? He was bloody right, too. A mysterious factory in the distance is mass-producing murderous machines intent on destroying mankind, and only Walter can save the world from the robots – by tooling up and shooting many of them. Repeatedly.
Nut up or shut up
Shoot Many Robots’ videogame and movie influences are proudly displayed for all to see, with blatant nods to Zombieland, Metal Slug, Contra and Borderlands throughout. Had it been called Shoot Many Zombies, Demiurge needn’t have changed anything but the enemy animations. It’s very much a game about running around to avoid attacks whilst thumbing the trigger button until your hands are sore. It’s an incredibly simple premise underlying an incredibly simple game – and therein lies Shoot Many Robots’ greatest strength.
The action begins when the invading robot swarm encroaches on Walter’s turf and destroys his home and truck. Luckily his RV and huge supply of weapons and ammo is intact, which can only lead to one thing: a rampaging road trip across Demiurge’s stereotypical vision of America, whilst shooting everything remotely metallic until it stops whirring. The side-scrolling action comes thick and fast to begin with, although there are problems with pacing here and there – mainly due to bouts of relentless combat shot through with almost insanity-inducing difficulty spikes.
Walter can carry two weapons at a time, a standard gun with infinite rounds and a heavy weapon that you’ll need to find ammunition for as you progress. Y swaps between them and X fires them, which seems a strange button to map a trigger to – especially as the right trigger makes Walter slide and LT causes him to stand still so you can aim. RB causes Walter to chug a beer and refill his health, and B will punch robots or launch flashing red missiles back at their murderous tin-can of origin. Power-ups that increase speed, melee damage and bullet damage are often dropped by enemies, and killing many bad guys in quick succession will up the score multiplier, allowing you to harvest more juicy nuts (as in, nuts and bolts) to buy better equipment.
(Slightly less than) 87 bazillion guns
Weapons come in a huge variety of flavours from flame throwers and rocket launchers to sub-machine guns, laser canons and revolvers. They can be found hidden around the levels in green crates, or else looted from fallen foes in classic RPG style. In fact, Shoot Many Robots bears some striking similarities to Gearbox’s Borderlands in both its cel-shaded cartoonish artwork and the fact that it’s really just a game about picking up lots of loot masquerading as a shooter.
While guns and ammo are in abundance, Walter isn’t shy of dressing up either. Hats, trousers (or at least, bottoms) and shirts are in huge supply – but must be discovered or otherwise unlocked before you can wear them. Beer-helmets, cowboy hats, batwings and tutus all feature in what is quite possibly the largest and most ridiculous selection of gear we’ve ever seen. Items can be purchased from a store in Walter’s trailer in return for nuts scavenged from dead robots – quite why Walter has a store in his trailer, or why he has to pay for items he logically already owns with gold and silver nuts is anyone’s guess. It’s completely unlikely, but kind of in context with Shoot Many Robots’ skewed universe.
Every item of gear buffs some stat or another, from health boosts to an increase in “patriotism” – but it can be hard to know what to wear for a given situation. Mixing and matching unlocked items to better progress through a particular area or survive longer in a bonus endurance level is essential – sometimes higher damage output is more important than more health. Although, sometimes it’s just as important to look damn good.
Do the Robot
Where Shoot Many Robots threatens to fall apart isn’t in the oddly hypnotic action (which is surprisingly far from tedious despite its repetitiveness), or its silly sense of humour, but in the occasionally punishing difficulty spikes. Sometimes no matter what you do, you’ll spend ages trying to proceed through one level or kill one cheap boss – especially when playing above Normal difficulty.
Of course, the frustrating challenge can be alleviated by making use of the 4-player co-op option, inviting 3 friends to join you as little Walter clones to smash the invasion together. The graphical style and level design lend themselves to frantic bouts of co-operative play – and the leaderboard system and constant contest for loot adds an element of competition. It’s not the revolution Demiurge were hoping for when they coined the phrase “co-opetition” (and in fact, actual competitiveness isn’t blatantly encouraged at all), but it does make for some brilliantly manic fun – and despite the increase in difficulty, makes some of the harder levels much more approachable.
The control system is slightly counter-intuitive at times (why isn’t “shoot” mapped to the right trigger, again?), and it’s annoying that you have to stand still to aim carefully – but then this isn’t a game about precision. It’s a run-and-gun bullet-fest, and it’s a pretty good example of what it is. It might be remarkably shallow and offer little more than something for loot-addicts to chase for hours on end – but that’s quite alright. It’s not intended to be a deep, story-driven human drama. It’s about shooting, punching and otherwise exploding many, many robots while drinking booze and dressing in silly clothes.
Overall, Shoot Many Robots is an interesting RPG-Shooter hybrid with a charming, bold art style and pervading sense of fun that compensate for its almost complete lack of narrative. Although Walter is almost completely wordless, his drunken redneck sensibilities are always on display, and have their own understated charm. The loading screen “hints” range from helpful to actually quite funny (when they remind you to “floss twice a day”, for example, or announce that “This game is based on a true story”), and the rock-country soundtrack is less irritating than you’d expect. It’s not the deepest and most engaging game to centre around one man’s stand against an army of invading machines to be released this month (ahem), but as a slice of loot-chasing, side-scrolling, robot-blasting fun, it’s unlikely to be beaten any time soon.
Words by Mick Fraser (Twitter: @Jedi_Beats_Tank)
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