Review: Shoot Many Robots
I know the whole “it’s like Borderlands crossed with Metal Slug” has been run into the ground with this game but it’s kind of hard to ignore once you start playing it. The inspirations taken from Borderlands itself blanket a large portion of Shoot Many Robots. These games share the looting, crazy weapons, art style, absence of a coherent plot and heck even the humor is a bit similar. That’s not to say that you’ll be thinking about how much this game is like Borderlands because even though it does share a lot of ideas in common it’s clear that Shoot Many Robots is fully capable of standing on its own. What that comparison should tell you is that Shoot Many Robots is built upon a great foundation for what should have been a great game. Unfortunately there’s a handful of issues that hold it back and make me think that perhaps Demiurge bit off a little more than it can chew.
Whether in single player or co-op everyone will be controlling the same character, P. Walter Tugnutt. He doesn’t really have an actual personality to speak of and I guess for that matter it’s important to note that no story is ever really presented to you. There is one and it’s mainly about a robot apocalypse but all of that is thrown to the side in favor of just letting you have fun. The bright side of this is that there’s so many customization options it’s pretty likely that your Tugnutt will be totally different from any other players that you run into online. This is where Shoot Many Robots should shine and in some ways it does. You’ll go through each level shooting a whole lot of robots as you collect nuts (currency), level up and discover hidden loot. Yes, the game does play similar to something like Metal Slug or even Contra. I won’t say it’s as good as those games but the similarity is there. Robots swarm you from all sides of the screen with most of them just running at you and a few standing back to fire rockets. There’s rarely a break in the action as, true to its name, you’ll be shooting many robots. After each level you’ll return to your base, a RV, and use the nuts you’ve collected from killing robots to purchase new equipment. This can range from a primary and secondary weapon to a hat, backpack and pants. At the start you’ll have mostly standard weapons and armor but as you level up and discover more loot you’ll find that the combinations get crazier and crazier. You can wear a space suit that causes your character to react differently to gravity or a paper bag over your head while wielding an ice cannon. Each equipment has stats to effect your health, defense and damage dealt as well as some custom stats that were thrown in for humor. For instance one weapon called the Vicious 110%-American grants +15% to your Patriotism stat and features the description “Our striving for that extra 10% in everything explains our obesity epidemic”. The combination of this style of humor and the extensive customization options available should make for a great game. So what holds it back?
For starters Shoot Many Robots sort of does something that Ghostbusters did last year. (Don’t panic just yet.) Normal difficulty in the game is split up into six different adventures. Each adventure has you playing through anywhere from three to five missions and by collecting enough stars you’ll unlock the next adventure. The reason I bring up Ghostbusters is that that game had you returning to the same environments numerous times with slightly different level layouts until you were eventually driven insane. Shoot Many Robots does this as well. You’ll go from a farm, to a forest, to the city outskirts, into the city and then into a factory. This will be your adventure over and over and over again. There’s a little bit of variety in the levels but not enough to make much of a difference. It’s really unfortunate because there’s a rather lengthy campaign that unlocks a Hard and Insane mode once it’s complete. Eventually you’re just not going to want to go through the same levels over and over again even if it’s at a harder difficulty. It’s a shame too because to be honest if levels didn’t get reused as much as they are in this game Shoot Many Robots would probably be a lot better.
The major draw to Shoot Many Robots lies within its co-op. You can team up with up to four players and take on levels together. Something I appreciate from the co-op in Shoot Many Robots is that you can leave the group and go off on your own if you so choose. It’s not always a wise choice but you’re rarely restricted to a certain portion of the screen. Often times two of us would go down one route while the others would go a different way. (Note that there are only a few branching paths throughout stages.) The unfortunate side of things however is that in multiplayer I noticed the game stutter quite a few times and on more than a few occasions I was put into a game where nobody was moving at all. But when it does work Shoot Many Robots does prove to be a good amount of mindless fun. That is if you can get around the technical issues.
I’ll usually spot screen tearing when present but it’s rare that it ever really bothers me. The screen tearing in Shoot Many Robots bothers me a lot. It’s almost as if whenever my character was moving there’d be a big line going across the bottom of my screen. There were portions of the game where it wasn’t very noticeable but for the most part it quickly became a pretty big distraction. Building upon that I really think Shoot Many Robots should look a lot better than it actually does. I like the art style a lot and it’s capable of looking fantastic (see Borderlands/Borderlands 2) but in Shoot Many Robots it looks unfinished in a way. There’s a lack of polish that, if present, would probably go a long way.
Shoot Many Robots does a lot of things right. The amount of customization, the wackiness of your equipment and the style of humor fit together really well. Heck even playing the game can be tons of fun at times and there’s no doubt in my mind that if we got a group of four players together with some headsets on good times would be had. The ideas are in place for a great game but somewhere between the repeated levels and the terrible screen tearing Shoot Many Robots fails to execute. It’s a shame because this is one game that should be so much better than how things turned out.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Tons of customization options
- Great sense of humor
- It's just good mindless fun playing with four people in co-op
What I Dislike:
- Loads of screen tearing
- Recycled levels
- Lack of graphical polish
- Lack of variety means the formula will get old fast