by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
The P stands for Pickles
What are you going to do when the eventual robot apocalypse happens? Hide in your house? Too bad, robots smashed it. Drive away to the mountains? Sorry, smashed that too. According to Demiurge Studios’ first fully original release, Shoot Many Robots, there’s only one thing to do – put on a tutu, grab your shotgun and RV and go get some. Just don’t forget the beer.
You’ve probably guessed by now that SMR is more premise than plot. The protagonist, P. Walter Tugnut, is a stereotypical hillbilly in every way and the game does little to innovate the cliché. Genuinely funny weapon descriptions are there if you have the patience to read them, but the permeating humor of titles like DeathSpank is woefully absent. A bit more story could have gone a long way but, as it is, SMR needs to stand on the strength of its gameplay. Thankfully, the robot-shooting action is decent, though repetitive.
With the same cel-shaded graphics as Borderlands (though noticeably lower in quality), SMR could have been a side-scrolling version of Gearbox’s acclaimed game. You constantly earn money to spend on two weapon slots and three equipment slots, each of which offers a variety of wacky options to dress up your avatar. The guns range from shotguns to freeze rays and all function pretty much as you’d expect them to. Better still, that paper bag you put on your head gives you a damage bonus. A task as mundane as changing your pants can unlock a more powerful slide tackle. While the stats look impressive, however, the different gear appear to have little effect during gameplay. I found that I was doing about the same no matter what I wore as I went level to level. This could be a testament to SMR’s balancing, but a more obvious bonus associated with each item would have been more satisfying. Then again, you can wear a jetpack, so that pretty much makes up for everything else.
The enemy variety, however, is less excusable. You’ll fight stronger versions of the same buzzsaw robots with irritating amounts of health over and over again as you traverse the levels, punching rockets back in their metallic faces. The game also repeats environments, and the déjà vu is unwelcome. More involved levels with more exotic robots would have alleviated much of the tedium inherent in the later levels.
Foursomes are always better
SMR’s saving grace is its four-player cooperative multiplayer. You can play with 4 people online (or two online and two on the same TV), and having some buddies along increases the action and increases the loot. Item drops are color-coded for each player, so you never have to worry about your buddy taking your swag. At some points the sheer number of enemies on screen makes it hard to see what is going on, but the game is definitely better with friends. I suggest making a drinking game out of it; every time you have to take a drink in-game to replenish your health, take one in real life. It may not make you play better but it’ll certainly smooth over SMR’s rough patches.
Despite these rough patches, Shoot Many Robots is still a game worth playing, especially if you have some dedicated friends along for the ride. Solo gamers should probably give it a pass, but multiplayer fiends looking for the next Metal Slug could do a lot worse.
Robot-massacring gets more fun as you increase friends and decrease sobriety
Gameplay can get repetitive, many items appear merely cosmetic