Close but not quite fantastic
Man, this game is pretty fun. The combat is snappy and satisfying, especially when you find your groove with a weapon. While the enemies are pretty simple, either sitting still and shooting at you or for the most part running at you with chainsaws at the ready, it's still quite fun to pump led into the legions of robots you will shoot. The visuals are quirky and pleasing, especially with the often ridiculous and sometimes even insane gear you see on your character. The music is surprisingly enjoyable and totally fitting of the game, but I found SMR to be a fantastic podcast game while I wasn't playing Coop with my mate.
In Shoot Many Robots, you play as a man who's had everything but his RV taken from him by... The Robots? That's about as defined as the antagonists get. There aren't really characters in this game, it's pretty much just a variety of robots hell bent on destroying you. You are hell bent on sweeping through the land, destroying (sorry, shooting) many, many robots, with an end goal of destroying some robot factories and eventually rubbing away from a really big robot... sorta like some of the sequences in 'Splosion Man. Unfortunately this ending encounter ends up being pretty either boring or frustrating, and INCREDIBLY short. You shoot a few robots (I know, I know, only a few? It's the finale!) and then do some basic platforming down a hall and up a thing.
In fact, one of my biggest gripes with the game is the rate at which the number of robots you shoot varies throughout the game. It's kind of all over the place. Some levels are side scrolling levels that have you progressing to the right and shooting robots along he way. Occasionally the screen will lock you down and through some enemies at you for a bit, but then you'll move on again. These can be very enjoyable, especially in coop, but they can also be pretty lacking. Either in the satisfaction you learn to enjoy from slaughtering a whole hell of a lot of robots with your gold tommy gun or challenge or even length. On the opposite end of this spectrum are the survival missions, which put you in a small arena area up against enemies that constantly pile on the heat. In these missions you have to last a certain number of waves, but after this minimum wave for success there are several bonus waves that up the challenge and enemy counts more and more. On coop with two players, these levels get really enjoyable, because you are just shooting so damn many robots. But again, this kind of lessens the punch on levels that end up being a little lacking in kicks already.
But even when things get at their most intense, things can get a bit messy. When you kill robots, they break up into a cloud of metal pieces, inconveniently obscuring an increasingly large space and preventing you from seeing the bulk of the horde rushing at your feet and even worse the red bullets fired by the ranged enemies. This ends up causing a bit of confusing sometimes, where you'll get hit by a bullet you never even saw because it was covered by shit flying everywhere. Including right into your screen... Almost as if you were supposed to play it in 3D...
I had a lot of fun with the game in coop, the gear really makes the game shine, much as it did for Borderlands. The writing and just the insanity of the things you put on is fantastic. The Fruit Fucker is a great example. If you aren't familiar with Fruit Fucker, he's a cartoon juicer that, well, fucks fruit. Only in SMR, he fucks your head. And god damnit that animation gets me every time. The style and sense of humor in the game is excellent. When you jump, your character does a little thumbs up. You can slide around the level, an ability granted to you in varying levels by equipment, which ends up looking hilarious with high level gear when you end up sliding across your entire RV. Hell, you can even punch and kick bullets back at the robot assholes that tried to shoot you. So that's pretty cool (feels great too!)
The loot is more than just an outlet for insanity however: Different weapons handle and look very differently, giving you anything from an assault rifle painted red, white, and blue; a golden sniper rifle; a fat garden gnome launcher; an ice ray; just about anything you could want. Some weapons have knock back, some are single shot high damage, some have accuracy that degrade as you fire for prolonged periods of time. Secondary weapons which tend to be more explosive or massive weaponry but unlike your primary they expend ammunition for the increase in firepower. All weapons unless (with a few exceptions thanks to debuffs from gear) will get crits, both randomly and from picking up pickups, which increases your damage output a hell of a lot, usually around 3x unbuffed but a lot of gear increases the chance and damage of crits.
Beyond weapons, there are head pieces; backpacks; and bottoms, all of which give significant (seriously, big numbers) buffs to some of your stats. I've seen stat boosts as high as almost 500%, and once you get into the higher levels they hang out around +1-200% depending on how much of an all-rounder the piece is. Some have effects like making crits like 120% more likely, and do 80% more damage, but make your accuracy pretty piss poor; others will let you slide, hover, or perform a ground pound while giving big boosts to speed and explosive damage. Some even disable certain abilities that you might have been given by another piece of gear.
The abilities given by the gear; namely sliding, hang-timing, and slamming, have different levels based on the gear you are wearing, which increases the effectiveness of the ability. For example, a level 9 slide is pretty quick and goes foreverrrrr. Basically, big numbers are awesome. But if you don't have a piece of gear that enables you to use that ability and/or disables the ability, you can't use it. The abilities are given by the gear, they are not inherent to your character. This means a lot of gear requires you to make sacrifices if you want more firepower or something to that effect. With the focus on speed and keeping your multiplier up and gathering nuts from under a horde of little robots, sliding is pretty handy, and it also pops smaller enemies up in the air if you hit them. Plus the huge number of robots on screen makes for hovering over the enemies after a double jump pretty invaluable, letting you stay out of reach of the melee types and rain death down on the from above.
I had a lot of fun with this game, especially in coop (I only played two player, but that got plenty crazy, three or four will probably get pretty fantastically hectic), but there are some pretty glaring issues. A few instances of 3D foreground objects obscuring your view of combat occasionally (a real pain on hard or insane levels where a couple hits takes you down), some real issues with hit boxes where your head and feet can get hit despite a perfectly timed deflection, especially likely when you're up in the air (again, a pain), and some pretty intense stuttering despite the game being pretty modest visually. I'd have liked if the timing for punching bullets were adjusted in online play, because the lag can make that a little inconsistent, and it's already a bit weird with the animation not at all lining up with the timing. On a higher resolution monitor, the cursor is pretty small, which can be an issue with how busy things get when a lot of things are jumping into or being blasted off of the screen.
But I've never been super skilled at 2D games, either platformers or shooters, so I might just be bad at video games. Either way, you should absolutely try this game if you like crazy amounts of ridiculous and awesome loot, good fun coop, and of course, Shootin Many Robots.