Do you remember the 2006 Samuel Jackson movie, Snakes on a Plane
? The joke at the time was that the movie's title was so upfront about the content of the movie that people were impressed by the honesty. Naturally when the movie was actually released that Summer, it featured plenty of snakes on a plane but by then, the joke had worn thin and audiences were left disappointed. Shoot Many Robots
falls into that same trap by being so laser focused on its simple premise.
The first original title by Demiurge Studios, the team that handled PC ports of http://www.trueachievements.com/Mass-Effect-xbox-360.htm
and the multiplayer of Medal of Honor: Airborne
. Shoot Many Robots
is exactly the sort of game you think it is: mindless 2D side-scrolling with copious amounts of robots being supplied for target practice.
Bare bones does not even describe the non-existent plot which centers on P. Walter Tugnut, a good old country boy living after the Robot Apocalypse, on his quest for vengeance after the robots destroy his truck and his house. Thankfully he was able to save his RV, which is a combination truck/house and therefore awesome. That explains why the following few hours consist of robotic genocide and also why your base of operations is a tricked out RV with guns, rocket launchers and babies stored in the fridge.
What the game lacks in plot, it attempts to make up in gameplay. There are two types of game modes you face during your quest for vengeance: typical left to right side scrolling levels and survival stages that have you facing a wave of enemies in a small arena. Be prepared to run through the same levels over and over again as each segment of your journey cycles through the exact same environments in the exact same order, with only slight variation in the type and amounts of robots standing against you.
The run'n'gun gameplay is focused on chaining together your kills to increase your nuts multiplier which gives you more nuts for your collection whenever you defeat an enemy. More nuts collected in a level grants you a better rating, which is required to advance on to the next level. Playing normally, I had no issues advancing to the next area until I reached the second segment of hard difficulty. Regardless of your concerns about level progression, collecting nuts from fallen enemies is vital for the real heart of this game: character customization.
The character customization makes up for the lack of gameplay variety by giving you many, many options to personalize your play style. As you level up more weapons and items are unlocked for use though you can also find loot drops during each level that gives access to even better weapons and armor. You can carry a basic weapon of the following types: pistol, sub-machine gun, sniper rifle, flamethrower, shotgun and assault rifle. In addition you get a heavy weapon, which can be an absolute life saver against certain armored enemy types. The heavy weapons include bazookas, heavy machine guns, landmines, dead cats in a cat carrier, Atlantean freeze beams, grenade launchers, and lastly the not-quite-homing-but-they-try-hard-anyways gnome launchers.
Clothing options are even more varied and bizarre, with options from cowboy hats to beer helmets, tutus to championship belts, fishnet stockings to kilts. Every piece of clothing has stats that improve your performance in different areas or offer up penalties in return for greatly improved performance. The fishnet stockings for example, greatly increase the damage you deal but also increase the damage you take, forcing you to adopt a very risky playstyle in order to succeed.
These weapons and items also have some of the greatest descriptions I have ever come across in a video game. One of the items you can find is an old fashioned diving helmet which has the following description: "Your little sister would have loved this helmet." That is just one of many references to other games, another is the Shield of Olaf the Stout which increases your hangtime while equipped. It is well worth your time to read these descriptions as the humor in each will at least get a chuckle out of most people.
You may wonder why I'm approaching the thousand word mark but have yet to say one thing about the graphics or music. Frankly, the game might as well have no music. Every level will quickly degenerate into a chorus of explosions, gunshots and screaming robots broken up only occasionally by the simple guitar riff that plays every time you collect a piece of loot. Graphics are perfectly acceptable with Walter in particular standing out as well animated and well designed no matter what crazy outfit you have him wearing. My one major graphical complaint is that it can be very hard to tell the difference between platforms you can stand on or shoot through versus those that are simply part of the background.
The greatest saving grace for Shoot Many Robots
, outside of the customization, is co-op gameplay. By the time I had reached level 41, I was very bored with the single player game. Thankfully, you can play the entire game in up to 4 player co-op with everyone retaining access to every piece of gear they have unlocked. Props to the guys over at Empty Lifebar
for joining myself and fellow Newshound osubluejacket
for some of the co-op experience.
What we found is that everything gets exponentially crazier in co-op as the number of robots scales up with the number of players. It's very easy to get lost in the sea of explosions and blown up robotic parts, but thankfully you can easily revive teammates in co-op as many times as needed to get through the level. We laughed, we screamed and we cried as we made our way through the last area of the normal difficulty up into the first few areas of hard mode. The difference between playing this alone and playing with friends is so vast that I simply can not suggest Shoot Many Robots
for anyone that is not willing to play online with other gamers.
Is it worth your time if you do have friends willing to play with you? Sure it is, this is a perfectly acceptable run'n'gun game that is legitimately funny with an addictive leveling system and lots of items to collect. The great parts of Shoot Many Robots
are brought down by the multitude of simply average parts of this game. Music, graphics, enemy variety and intelligence, all of these could have been handled much better if the bulk of emphasis was not on the item customization.
What about the achievement hunters out there? You might want this game, despite the four co-op only achievements, as in 10 hours of playtime I would have the game completed except my playgroup made a mistake. Turns out, you are unable to access the Factory levels while playing a quick-match and the Robot Overlord is only to be found at the end of the Factory.
Do be aware that there is a micro-transaction system in place for Shoot Many Robots
. It was not up and running in time for this review but there is the option of buying items with MSP along with the option to buy 1.5 million nuts for 800 MSP. There is nothing available, as far as I could tell, that you can't simply earn by playing the game normally.
Ultimately, Shoot Many Robots
is a simply average game with a simple, straight forward concept. There is nothing here making it a must-play title but if you do play online with friends, it can make for a fun few hours of mindless run 'n' gun gameplay. If you plan on playing through solo, I would think twice as the experience became painfully boring during my first day with the game. Despite the faults, Shoot Many Robots
is an impressive rookie debut for Demiurge Studios and I will be looking forward to what they have to offer us in the future.Final Score: 3/5
This review is based off of pre-release code provided by the developer. The reviewer spent 7 hours playing through single player and 3 hours playing in co-op.