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Shoot Many Robots, and not much else

Apr 3, 2012

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Shoot Many  RobotsThe plot for "Shoot Many Robots" - yes, technically there is one - isn't explained through a flashy opening sequence or by way of detailed cutscenes. You learn all you need to know via text snippets that are displayed during loading screens.

This is clear proof the game's developer, Demiurge, didn't want to waste any time getting to the shooting of robots. Though, the title of the game probably should have clued you in right off the bat.

If you're too busy posting to Twitter or checking sports updates on your phone during loading screens, here's the gist: a robot apocalypse occurs, and protagonist P. Walter Tugnut grabs a seemingly endless array of high-powered weaponry and does his best to destroy the equally endless hordes of evil machinery that spews from all corners of the earth.

SMR is a side-scrolling run-and-gun shooter that never takes itself too seriously. Demiurge, a developer that helped Gearbox Studios with one of the multiplayer modes for Borderlands, is clearly influenced by that first-person shooter that was released in 2009. Both games have a four-player co-operative campaign, both have a big focus on collecting loot and constantly upgrading, and both have a cool cel-shaded look to them.

The big difference, of course, is that while Borderlands is a huge game with a neat story and memorable characters, SMR is dead-simple. Although there is some strategy involved if you're on your own as you go through the campaign, you're still spending about 99 percent of the game, well, shooting robots and nothing else.

Of course, not all games need to be grandiose adventures that span centuries and multiple worlds, looking deep into the mysteries of the unknown, while asking questions about the meaning of life. That said, the further you get into SMR, the more mindless it becomes.

Shoot Many  Robots The game is split up into several "chapters" that each contains multiple levels. When you begin the game, most chapters are unlocked, but you can open them up by earning stars. You earn stars by picking up "nuts" that are dropped by robots; the more you pick up, the better your final results will be.

One of the more glaring issues with SMR is that many of its levels are recycled. You'll go through farmland, factories, cities, but you'll be doing the same thing regardless of where you are. There are some levels that are essentially arenas where you'll clear wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies, but they don't do much to shake things up.

While some stages have minibosses or screen-filling robot monsters, others finish with nothing more than a flag that's sitting out in the open, which renders everything you've done in the level up to that point kind of hollow. The bosses themselves certainly look cool, but they have the same basic patterns and really aren't terribly exciting.

Between levels, players are given the chance to spend the nuts they've earned on new weapons and equipment. Some of these things can only be bought once you reach a certain level, and many are unlocked by finding them in crates or earning them from downed enemies in levels.

There is a lot of stuff to sift through and you'll never be at a loss trying to find a cool new flamethrower or hilarious helmet. Each weapon and piece of equipment has a wide array of attributes as well; a certain backpack may afford you an extra beer (which you drink to earn health back), but it may also slow you down significantly. Some guns are devastatingly powerful, but they may have a very slow rate of fire, and may only be effective up close.

Shoot Many  Robots It's up to you to experiment and figure out what works best with your play style. When all is said and done, the upgrade system is one of the things that help keep this game somewhat fresh through its many levels of blasting away robot after robot.

While attempting the campaign solo can be a rough slog, teaming up with three other players can actually be too easy. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the matchmaking when opting for a quick match, and if for instance you're a level 30 or 40, and you get teamed with three other level 50s - which is as high as you can currently go - you could literally go an entire level with shooting a single bullet and still earn a ridiculous amount of nuts.

This of course makes it incredibly easy to level up and buy cool loot, but it also takes all of the fun and challenge out of the game. There were a few times where I was partnered with higher-ranked players and even after equipping my most powerful stuff and trying my damndest, I would only manage to kill a handful of enemies in total in any given level.

Even dying doesn't mean much, as any player can instantly revive you with a simple tap of the left bumper, no matter how many times you're downed. Keep in mind there are three difficult levels you play through (Normal, Hard, and Insane), but even on Insane mode, the endless stream of bullets coming from four players' guns was enough to keep even the most difficult enemy at bay.

Shoot Many  Robots Regardless of how many people you're playing with, Demiurge should be commended for its use of the controls. It feels a lot like later Contra games, so seasoned run-and-gun veterans should have a blast here. Although twin-stick controls are all the rage during the current generation of shooters, I quite enjoyed using the face buttons for shooting and meleeing and holding down the left trigger to stand in place.

SMR's biggest strength has to be its sense of humour. Just about every weapon, backpack, hat and piece of clothing includes a laugh-worthy description. Of course, some items are hilarious on their own, like the empty barrel you can use in lieu of pants, or the beer hat you can rock.

Still, as funny, laid back, and low-brow as SMR is, there's not enough meat to this game. On the surface, there is a ton of levels to play through, enemies to destroy, and equipment to earn, but so much of the content is recycled that it still manages to feel kind of empty.

And this is coming from a guy who is borderline obsessed with all things robotic.

 

Shoot Many Robots
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Demiurge
ESRB Rating: M for Mature 17+
Official Site: http://shootmanyrobots.com/

Rating: 5.5 / 10

 
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