Diablo Platforming with Wicked Humor
Download Size: 1 GB
Hours Played: 4
Regions Finished: 6/14 (Normal mode cleared)
Favorite Item: Gnoming Missile Launcher
What I'd Pay: $20
Steam Price (4/8/12): $10
Shoot Many Robots, like its redneck protagonist, is stupid, goofy, and more fun than it has any right to be. On paper, its premise seems boring: run and jump through a level and shoot many robots to earn nuts to buy better guns & pants to shoot even more robots. However, great graphics & sound, a skewed sense of humor, and some good mindless multiplayer action make it well worth its price.
The first thing that strikes you about this game is how ridiculous it is. You single-handedly (or quad-handily) push back a robot apocalypse with an RV and a shower full of guns. Many of the robots look like toasters with chainsaws, or apes that shoot bullets & throw a tantrum when they miss. A flamethrower, a missile launcher that shoots screaming garden gnomes, a coonskin cap, and bright pink rubber pants is a reasonable loadout. The item description for Too-Effective Camo Pack is "Where is that thing?" Shooting each other in the RV while you wait for a multiplayer level to start sums up this game's absurdity rather well. (There's no friendly fire on the levels themselves; they put it in just so you can mess with each other in the lobby.)
The second thing that strikes you about this game is the production values. Everything has this grungy-yet-colorful cell-shaded 3D models look that fits the game's theme well, and the guns (and the sound of bullets hitting robots) makes a satisfying rat-a-tat-a-tat-a sound. The background country music switches between several themes based on how much shooting is going on. The background itself is filled giant robots, smelters, and machines doing their own thing while you turn their smaller buddies into scrap metal. It's a good thing it looks so good, because many of the 61 levels are duplicates or variations of each other, with the main difference being the number & types of robots sent at you. (Interesting note: each difficulty level has its own set of levels; imagine if Diablo 2 had different layouts & enemies in Nightmare & Hell mode.)
The gameplay itself is simple, but addictive. You move with the keyboard & aim/fire with the mouse. You can jump, slide, switch to a secondary weapon with more oomph but limited ammo, punch the robots' bullets back at them, and chug beers when your health gets low. You go through each level, kililng every robot you can, until you reach the goal, or boss, or survive long enough (in the Survival stages). Quickly killing robots fills your combo meter, which drops rapidly when you aren't killing. The combo meter determines how many nuts the robots drop, which are used for buying equipment & determining your star rank for that level. Since other levels are unlocked once you get enough stars (and buying stuff is good), the game encourages you to push forward and recklessly kill bots to keep the combo meter up and buy more loot.
The loot itself has different strengths from health to speed to accuracy vs speed vs damage. Best of all, certain stats aren't limited to just one type of gear, but can appear on multiple types, letting you synergize them for uber-powered fun. For example, my "reasonable build" above has 2 weapons with high crit% and crit damage, then combines them with the Coon Skin Cap which also increases crit chance and damage. As a result, I constantly see obscene yellow crit numbers pop off the robots I'm melting. It encourages you to pick certain builds, rather than just put the best equipment you have in each slot.
Multiplayer is a joy... once you get in a match. Unfortunately, you can't join up midlevel, so you'll end up watching a Level Complete percentage increase until they finish. (Thankfully, the game lets you hear their audio, giving the impression of an offscreen conflict between an automated factory and an arms shipment.) Then you pop up in their RV, where you can change your loadout and shoot each other. If you're lucky, you won't lose the connection (or have the host bow out) before the next level starts. It took 15 minutes for me to finally start a level in coop, but once I did, having 4 players firing in all directions, simultaneously blowing up hordes of robots, was satisfying. I don't know if the game increases the number of bots spawned based on how many players you have, but judging by the difficulty of the initial hard levels, perhaps it doesn't need to. (I wonder if you can reasonably finish Hard and Insane modes on single-player...)
I was beginning to lose interest around the 4-hr mark- levels were beginning to get difficult and my favorite flamethrower/gnoming missile launcher combo just wasn't working well anymore- but I can see the appeal of this game, and just how long it can last for fans. Just finishing Normal difficulty was a good use of $10 in my opinion; if you like action platformers with absurd humor and a good loot system enough to finish Hard & Insane as well, it's a steal for this price.