|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Demiurge Studios|
|Pub: Demiurge Studios|
|Release: TBA 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by James Trujillo
The title really says it all. Any design document would only get in the way when you pitch a game called Shoot Many Robots. According to the folks over at Demiurge Studios, the name was all that was needed during a fateful company pitch session. Although their studio might not sound familiar, it's almost a sure thing that you've experienced their work. They're like "the guy behind the guy, behind the guy" in the video game industry; having worked on titles such as Mass Effect, Borderlands, and BioShock, to name a few.
The game itself doesn't take a serious approach to the story. In fact, it doesn't really have one at all. What it does have is a pretty unapologetic sense of humor that's refreshingly silly. It all revolves around a paranoid man named P. Walter Tugnut. The "P" stands for Pickles, in case you were wondering, and he has a very strong hatred for robots. Obviously he has a few screws loose; as he spends his days planning for the robot apocalypse in an RV stocked with guns and plenty of booze. After taking residence on the outskirts of an abandoned factory, his dreams come true when it mysteriously begins to create many, many, robots.
The original vision for the game's design was to pull out a concept similar to what Shadow Complex achieved with their perspective take on Metroid and Castlevania. However, being huge fans of the Metal Slug series, Demiurge decided to mesh a run and gun style of gameplay with a significant, yet simple, role-playing game influence. This is what eventually led to the extensive list of items featured in the game, which grant a variety of abilities and statistic buffs to customize your very own P. Walter Tugnut.
There are well over two-hundred items in the game, including over eighty weapons and a surplus of ridiculously themed outfits. Each item can be equipped into one of three slots corresponding with the head, back, and legs. These can range anywhere from Viking helmets, ballerina tutus, jet packs, and extremely tight leather pants to give "Pickles" an array of endowments. The powers gained from items can provide him with things like improved melee damage, larger ammo capacity, sliding attacks, or even flying capabilities. This gives players a chance to make their characters unique, not only with special abilities, but in appearance as well. Seeing P. Walter dressed in fairy wings and a Scottish kilt is a sight to behold, I assure you.
The gameplay is painfully simple, but in no way is that a bad thing. You basically point and shoot, with the occasional ground-stomp, melee attack, or slide tackle to mix things up a bit. You also gain experience from killing every robot you encounter, which is a wonderful cycle, because you unlock much more paraphernalia for destruction as you progress. Everything can be purchased after collecting as many robot nuts as possible, which act as the in-game currency and come in a variety of bronze, silver, and blue nuts.
Once the hands-on time with the game began, it was absolutely a blast. I couldn't help but laugh from pure enjoyment as we delighted in a symphony of mayhem and robot destruction. One minute you're causing an orgy of explosions and the next you're collecting nuts flying in from all directions. Things can get hectic very quickly, but if you find yourself in a bind you can always pound a quick beer to replenish your health. Thankfully the game features a multiplayer component so you can share in the drunken rampage with your friends.
You can tackle the robot apocalypse with two-players locally, or up to four-players online. It makes it all the more spectacular when fighting alongside a companion, especially with the added competition of killing the most robots. Scores are added up at the end of the level, along with various multipliers for keeping up a killing-spree, and whoever has the most at the end of the round gets a larger share of the nuts collected. Also, anytime you want to binge on a shopping spree or change out your gear, you can do so back at Walter's RV, which serves as a hub from level to level. Although it wasn't in the build we saw, we were also told the RV could be driven around on an overhead map as a sort of level select screen.
By far, the most fun and addicting portion of the game was something that wasn't originally intended to be a part of it; although we're hoping that it could be. It was essentially a test level that featured non-stop robots falling from the ceiling in a completely empty room. It was designed to see how many robots could fit on screen without a major drop in frame rate, which held up surprisingly well considering the insane amount that were present. It was also somewhere they could test their idea for "group AI," which would make robots function like a group of attacking ants, building and stacking to get at you in any way possible.
Even though everything we saw was an early build of the game, it was thoroughly impressive. The RPG elements were simple enough, but provided a great compliment of depth to the simplicity of the games combat. It's all about the shooting, but it was nice to mix it up with the occasional ground-stomp or slide tackle depending on the items you had equipped. Shoot Many Robots will be available as a digital download sometime in 2011, and although I played a build on the Xbox 360, other official platforms have yet to be announced.
CCC Freelance Writer