Shoot many Robots is all about the American dream. Living in an RV, drinking beer and shooting killer robots with a rifle.
Okay, I’ll admit I could be a bit hazy on the definition of ‘the American dream’ there. But it plays up a lot of the American stereotypes and I still haven’t figured out if it’s supposed to be ironic or not. You play a bald, grizzled American redneck type character. Your pickup truck is immediately destroyed by robots, shortly followed by your house. Seeking vengeance, you set out armed with a submachine gun, rocket launcher and quantities of health-restoring beer and narrowly save your RV from the same fate as your house and truck. Fortunately it’s the ultimate hybrid of house and truck so you’re pretty much sorted. Beyond that, the plot hopes to merely propel itself on a wave of machine wreckage. No twists, drama or character development, not even the merest token effort, just destroying thousands upon thousands of robots because they wrecked your truck.
So those robots had better be really fun to destroy, right? Alas, not so much. There’s a variety of weapons and upgrades available via a shop housed inexplicably in your RV’s bathroom. There’s a bit of variety in the weaponry too, but a considerable part of the arsenal is just upgrades on the previous model, and honestly, I just keep coming back to the same gear. Fully automatic weapons just chew through most enemies pretty quickly and pretty much the first hat you unlock raises your weapon crit rate to 60%. It’s so overpowered as to make everything else redundant. I suppose you could easily artificially raise the difficulty by simply not using said items, but since when did any gamer volunteer to nerf themselves?
Interspersed throughout the standard levels are a handful of survival mode levels. These are a bit more challenging and will throw wave after wave of enemies at you until you succumb to the hordes or kill them all. This will put even an overpowered loadout to the test and it’s quite a lot of fun, too.
The game is a 2D platformer/shooter. Kind of like the old Metal Slug games. Jumping around on platforms shooting at anything that moves. It’s a bit more fluid than Metal Slug though so it plays less like memorizing a sequence of moves and more like an actual game. The graphical style borrows heavily from Borderlands with an industrial, almost cel-shaded look. Unfortunately, the game gets stale pretty quickly. You can mix it up with different loadouts, but once you’ve smashed a few thousand mechanoids it starts to feel like a bit of a grind. It doesn’t even have the same visceral satisfaction that Orcs Must Die! had, and that was a similar principle; at least orcs had the decency to walk into giant whirling blade traps with a sadistically delightful squelch.
Ubisoft keep catching me with my guard down. They keep publishing games that if I didn’t know better I would have called indie. Rather original looking concepts with a low price points, and it’s hard to take issue with that. The idea that it has a publisher at all is poor grounds to make a complaint, no doubt. The problem I have with publishers is that the game never stands on its own merits. I’d heard of Shoot Many Robots before launch, and I’d assumed the hype was due to it looking pretty decent. In retrospect it’s obvious that it was due to Ubi digging into its deep pockets to make sure people heard of it. I mean, that’s their job, right? The faux “indie” stuff Ubisoft keeps publishing never quite lives up to expectations though. They build hype and follow through with a less than stellar offering. From Dust never quite lived up to the promise, either. Sans-publisher these games probably wouldn’t fail outright; they’re well polished and quite entertaining, but they’d struggle to stay afloat amongst much better indie titles.