I Shot Many Robots
When I sat down to write my review for Shoot Many Robots, I could only muster ten measly words: “There were many robots, and I shot most of them.” And, in all honesty, this is the probably the most precise and judicious review that anyone will ever give to Ubisoft’s latest entry into the side scrolling genre. See, Shoot Many Robots has a sort of overstated conciseness that demands a brevity of words. However, the editors at Cheat Code Central are a terrifying bunch (editor’s note: no we’re not), and ten words doesn’t really make for a good review. So, what follows is a longwinded, nit-picky excavation of a game that can essentially be summed up in ten measly words.
But prattling reviews like this one say far more about the expectations of the gaming industry than the quality of its games. See, at some point in the last decade, much of this industry has become like the self-important uncle that most families avoid inviting to their family barbecues. He’s always trying to impress us with whatever inconsequential factoid is currently on his mind, but doesn’t entirely understand what he’s talking about.
For publishers, those factoids come in the form of technology and graphical prowess. Pushing the technological envelope has taken the industry driver’s seat while gameplay and storytelling are tossed into the trunk. So when a title like Shoot Many Robots comes along, it almost feels like the developer is trying to trick us into having a good time without all the bells and whistles. And, even though it isn’t a perfectly executed title, Shoot Many Robots did manage to pull the wool over my eyes, if only for a short time.
Obviously, the narrative in Shoot Many Robots probably isn’t going to be the appropriate choice for someone who’s working on his or her Ph.D in Literary Criticism, but since most of us barely passed high school English, I doubt we’ll hear much complaining about the storyline. Just like every other element in the game, Shoot Many Robots’ plot is straightforward and without subtlety. Robots are attacking. You have a gun. You shoot them with it. End of story.
They actually do manage to shoehorn a bit about the main character, P. Walter Tugnut, having his truck stolen, but even mentioning this gives the plotline too much credit. But don’t get me wrong, none of this is meant as a complaint. Sure, the plot is practically non-existent, but this is entirely appropriate for the game. In fact, if the developers had attempted to write a plot that was even slightly more compelling, the game itself would have been less enjoyable.
Predictably, the graphics are less impressive than you’ve grown to expect from this generation of consoles, but that’s a good thing. The graphical style is extremely fitting. It’s sporting a Borderlands-meets-Contra motif, with a touch of Team Fortress 2 sprinkled in for taste. In essence, it’s a 2D platformer that has a few 2.5D elements. Demiurge Studios, SMR’s developer, has created a surprisingly sophisticated graphical landscape, especially when you consider that this is their first in-house development project.
However, I would be lying if I said that the controls in Shoot Many Robots were good. In fact, they’re probably the game’s biggest flaw. Remember what I said about the storyline’s lack of subtly? Well, the same goes for the controls, and this time it’s not a good thing. Slight movements won’t do you any good in SMR. In order to control your character, your thumbs must manhandle the analog sticks. As robots start to fill the screen, it becomes nearly impossible to aim and move at the same time.
This is all made worse by the fact that your movement and aiming are both controlled by the same stick. And then, just to make things even more difficult, the developers threw in a “down-the-sight” aiming system. Essentially, you hold down one of the bumpers (ala Call of Duty), and your character stops in his tracks allowing you to more intricately aim the gun. However, my description makes it sound far more interesting than it actually is.
The gamepad’s face buttons control the rest of the usual suspects: jump, fire, etc. However, the fact that it’s nearly impossible to jump, aim, and fire at the same time often makes fighting fifty onscreen robots an impossibility. You’ll be killed more often by the game’s lack of control than its actual difficulty, which is a genuine problem.
Now, the controls may feel clunky and awkward, but even when they’re getting in the way the gameplay feels smooth. If you can manage to get a bead on your enemy, the shots feel fluid and natural. However, fighting with the controls in a game that essentially has you running to the right for seven or eight hours is probably enough to kill any gamer’s excitement.
Shoot Many Robots does allow for a bit of limited character customization, though, so if you’re the kind of guy who enjoys the sound of an automatic rifle, I’m sure you’ll be ale to find a loadout that suits you. And the same goes for those of us who prefer flamethrowers and explosions.
But all of the drawbacks almost fall to the wayside when you fire up the game with four of your friends. SMR’s co-op mode is probably its crowning achievement. It’s loud and chaotic, and the action almost never lets up. However, this just isn’t enough to save it from being a passing fad.
Demiurge has done a good job defining the game’s graphical and thematic ceiling, and not breaking the glass. It’s a throwback side-scroller at its core, but it’s not drenched in the same ironic nostalgia that similar titles fall into. However, even if I’m being generous, I’m fairly certain that Shoot Many Robots isn’t going to stay in your play list for very long. Actually, in my initial ten-word review, it probably would have been more accurate for me to say, “There were many robots, and I shot most of them, but then I went back to playing Modern Warfare 3.”
So what? I’m obviously not immune to the technology and graphically prowess that the industry has taught us to love. But self-awareness has to count for something, right?
What SMR manages to do is remind us that stupid games are fun and that we’re all idiots, which is a good thing. It’s definitely not perfect, but if you’re the type of person who’s going to make a serious attempt at nit-picking Shoot Many Robots, take a look in the mirror; you’re the embarrassing uncle.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Perfect for the tone of the game, but nothing impressive. 2.3 Control
By far one of the worst platforming control setups in history. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Hilarious dialog at times, though the music might be a little too metal-y for some. 3.8 Play Value
Probably won’t stay in your console for very long, but definitely worth $10. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|