Shoot Many Robots Hands-On Preview --By Stephen Johnson - Posted Mar 09, 2011
Demiurge Studios’ first full game, Shoot Many Robots, is a charming, aggressive, funny, and cool downloadable title summed up perfectly by its title – although “Shoot Many Robots" seems like a totally dumb moniker, it’s actually brilliant. SMR has its silly moments, no doubt, with its wacky costumes, cartoony graphics, and tongue-in-cheek presentation, but judging from my GDC 2011 hands-on demo, it’s based on solid mechanics and tried-and-true gaming mainstays.
Basically, if you like Metal Slug (and only Communists don’t like Metal Slug) you’ll like Shoot Many Robots – it’s a hardcore run-and-gunner that offers up to four-player online co-op, customizable weapons, RPG elements, and the opportunity to shoot many, many robots. Demiurge describes it as “Metal Slug meets Borderlands,” and they’re right on.
You play as P. Walter Tugnut, a badass whose first name is actually “Pickles.” Tugnut has been prophesizing a robot apocalypse for years, and now that it’s finally here, he’s in heaven. He sets off in his RV for a robot-murdering rampage.
The RV serves as a hub for the game, giving you a quiet place to recharge, ponder your life, grab the right weapons for the next level, and change your clothes. Your clothing acts as the RPG elements in the game, with each piece of gear giving you different powers. Slither into a pair of leather pants, and you’ll be granted a sliding melee attack, where choosing a ballerina’s tu-tu is both a bold fashion choice and a good idea if you want to jump higher and run faster. Full sets like Scottish gear with a kilt give you even bigger boosts.
Outside of the RV, it’s madness. You travel from level to level, from a farm town, to a junkyard, to other locales, battling hordes of mechanical enemies. The enemies are interesting, design-wise. Rather than your clean, sci-fi robots, these are more guns on wheels, spewing smoke and bullets, each with its own specification. Some enemies are heavily armored but don’t hit so hard, where other are the opposite. You get the drift: Lots of different kinds of robots working together to kill you. Individually, they’re not that bright, but together, the many robots are formidable enemies.
Shoot Many Robots uses a unique aiming system to make managing gangs of enemies more efficient and fun. You click your controller stick down and go into aiming mode, eliminating a lot of the frustration of the classics of the genre – finally you can stop and carefully aim at those enemies sneaking up behind you.
I played through the Junkyard level, co-op with one of the game’s developers. Wearing a trusty beer can helmet (beer is health here, just like real life), we set out and mowed down a ton of ‘bots, collecting lots of nuts, the game’s currency, along the way. It’s a set-up that will be familiar to anyone who has ever played a video game, and is exactly as addictive and action-packed as it sounds. End-of-level, your nut collecting will be split, with higher kills resulting in more money. Demiurge calls it “co-opetition,” and again, those guys are good with names. Overall, me likey, and I imagine I’ll likey even more with a couple more pals playing – nothing says “awesome” more than four friends destroying four bajillion robots, fighting over kills to earn nuts.
At the end of the stage, in a nod to classic video game level structure, you’ll find the mini-boss, The Suppressor, a heavily armored bad guy who takes a lot of shots to pull down. Good-natured cursing and celebrating ensued.
The final level Demiurge showed off was more of a tech demo or a promise of things to come than a full level. In it, the developers turned the robot level up to 11, and allowed an endless stream of enemies to pour from the ceiling. It’s technically impressive on a number of levels. First, because there are so many enemies onscreen, there’s little point in even trying to count them – I was too busy shooting, honestly-- and second, because the swarms of robots act in concert with one another. The robot horde is more than the sum of its parts, with ‘bots piling atop one another like ants in order to attack and swarm you. It hints at the many possibilities that the harder levels of the game will offer.
In short: Shoot Many Robots is silly when it should be (the presentation, look and story) and serious when it needs to be (The gameplay, enemies and difficulty), adding up to a unique and sure-to-be fun title. You’ll be able to download this one on sometime in 2011, hopefully across the Xbox 360, PSN and PC. If you want to get a jump on the rest of the gaming world, Shoot Many Robots will be playable at PAX East 2011 this weekend in Boston. If you’re going to the show, do not miss this game.