With a name like Shoot Many Robots, the title says it all. It's a game with lots of robots and lots of bullets, and when the two come together, it's lots of fun. Developer Demiurge Studios, a Boston-based studio that has worked behind the scenes on such games as Borderlands and Mass Effect, is hoping to do for Metal Slug what Shadow Complex did for Castlevania. A faithful reimagining, a modern-day update…whatever you want to call it, we had a blast going hands on with it during this year's Game Developers Conference.
In Shoot Many Robots, you take on the role of P. Walter Tugnut, a good ol' boy living the simple life in his dilapidated, countryside RV. Not one for civilized society, Walter has found his life's calling in the wake of a sudden robot apocalypse. He is every action movie hero you've ever seen, armed to the teeth with an extensive gun collection and an eclectic wardrobe. Our demonstration began here--in Mr. Tugnut's mobile home.
One of Demiurge Studios' development philosophies is that role-playing mechanics make everything better. To wit, our character could gain experience, level up, and define his role in the upcoming robot slaughter based on the equipment we brought along. These items included everything from football helmets to Viking shields, and each one conferred its own special ability, as well as altered the appearance of our character. It may have looked silly, but the boost to running speed and jump height from the pink tutu (part of the fairy princess item set) was impressive.
Our means for dispensing robot death came in an equally diverse assortment of flavors. Dozens of shotguns, rifles, machine guns, and more--each with unlimited ammo--were available as primary weapons. Our secondary choices, referred to as "Oh Snap!" weapons, ran the gamut from grenade launchers to Molotov cocktails. Once we had made our selection--stuntman helmet, jetpack, leather pants, machine gun, grenade launcher--we were prepared to face the horde (or have one wild weekend).
We were dropped into the Grain Processing level, which was an early farm/factory level far away from the epicenter of the robot outbreak. After blasting our way through this opening stage, we were most impressed with the pacing of the action. In a game where presentation is all about loud music, big guns, and lots of robots, it would have been easy to drown the player in a light show of explosions and enemies. Instead, during our brief time with the game, we felt empowered and in control. We didn't get lost in the action, and there was always a creative way to dispatch any threat.
The flow of battle was held together with nuts. These metallic bits burst forth from robot corpses and act as both currency and a point multiplier. You're going to need those points because Shoot Many Robots is all about the score chase. At the top of the screen, alongside your current score, the next highest score on your friends list is always displayed. If you beat his, it automatically updates to the next. After we finished, the two Demiurge staffers loaded up a cooperative game, which supports two-player local play and up to four players online. One decked himself out in heavy gear armed with a shotgun, while the other chose damage-boosting items and a high-powered, single-shot revolver. Together, the duo formed an unstoppable team that never stopped moving and quickly put our meager score to shame.
Our demo ended with us back in the driver's seat going up against The Fat Man--a living, fire-breathing anthropomorphic bulldozer. The metal monstrosity would vomit puddles of oil on the ground before lighting them on fire and driving up our nation's gas prices. Our jetpack was the real hero of the battle because it saved us from getting burned on numerous occasions. Once we emerged victorious, we were eager to jump back in for another round, but our time was up. We look forward to seeing more of the robot apocalypse though the eyes of Walter Tugnut on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC later this year.