Robots. Just the mere word screams nostalgia. Remember the days when you’d sit in-front of your television sets, digging your hands into your Lego bucket (we’ve all had one of these when we were kids, am I right?) trying to get that one special piece that would complete your makeshift, not-fully-articulated robot while Optimus Prime and Megatron duke it out, laser guns blazing, in the background? This was the most fun a kid could have with robots back then; there was a child-like fascination with creating a big mechanical automaton one part at a time. Nowadays, we get to see that same inventive and subsequent jovial flare in robot-themed shows on Television that pit robotic engineers’ machines against one another, jockeying for position and trying to turn the opposing robot to scrap metal. But sadly, not everyone can have the robotics nor mechanical engineering acumen to create such awesome automations.
For those of us who don’t have robotics or mechanical engineering degrees, there has to be something that could cater to our inner (mad) scientist. Enter Guns and Robots, the free-to-play, browser-based Third-Person shooter MMO from Masthead Studios where players are tasked to assemble their very own junkyard contraptions with so much firepower and ammunition in order to do battle with other players and see who has the meanest machine ever!
Does this new Robot-themed shooter create a new realm of fun and excitement for its players or does it fall by the wayside and ultimately belong in the scrap yard? Let’s check it out!
Guns and Robots: Coded, Calibrated, and Cocked for Battle
When playing Guns and Robots, the very first thing that players will notice is that, aesthetically, the game looks great. It has a very cartoony and colorful environment and map designs that are reminiscent of those Saturday morning cartoons that kids and kids-at-heart used to (and still) watch. The somewhat cell-shaded robots offer a nice textured contrast with the background by having a quirky, junkyard, hap-hazardly-assembled look that further adds charm to the whole game.
Guns and Robots essentially plays like a standard third-person shooter. Players control their robots via W,S,A and D keys, select their weapons by pressing the number keys, and shoot the said weapons using the left and right mouse buttons. Oddly enough, though, the space bar does not make the robots jump. Not giving the robots the ability to jump opens an interesting strategic element to the game because it means that the robots are going to be heavily reliant on the terrain of the map they’re playing in. Not to mention that this limitation in movement further extends the game’s commitment to their theme of scrap yard, elbow and axle grease-laden robots.
It has the typical game modes such as death match, team death match, capture the flag (or in this case batteries), and bomb planting/defusing ala-Counter Strike. Nothing much to say about these, as those who have played any kind of shooter, be it third-person or first-person, will certainly be familiar with any of these modes.
The difference lies with the surprisingly deep level of customization the game gives its players. When talking about what classes are there, Guns and Robots provides three kinds of body types – light, medium, and heavy. From their namesakes, the body types have some advantages and disadvantages. For instance, robots that have light body parts are highly mobile than the other two types, but they are more susceptible to damage as they are the least armored of the three types and can only carry a certain number of armaments. Medium body types give average stats in the speed, armor, and weapons departments while the heavy body type have higher weight capacity for weapons and armor at the expense of having slower speeds.
Customization does not stop at choosing what body type you want your robot to have, as Guns and Robots offers a rich assortment of weapons that can be mixed and matched. Players can choose to equip their robots with guns that shoot shotgun shells, crossbows, rocket launchers, lasers, and so on. Each weapon has different strengths and weaknesses as well – for example, rocket launchers and lasers pack quite a punch, but they take a longer to reload compared to crossbows and conventional guns; lasers require a power source (in the form of batteries) that adds weight to the robot, altering its maneuverability. It’s up to the players to construct the right kind of robot with the correct armaments that fits to their play style. Guns and Robots’ deep level of customization is commendable as it really shows effort that it’s sticking to its theme and, at the same time, it gives the game some depth as it makes players invest time to fine-tune their robots to their full potential; you really feel like you’re an inventor with so many options at your disposal! This also means that every game will bring different elements to the table, as different players will have their own unique specialized machines that are itching to blow the competition away.
Some Assembly Required…
Guns and Robots is not devoid of some faults, however. The tutorial part for creating a robot or a weapon feels like it has been rushed. Players who have a knack for mindlessly clicking through tutorials will be in for a very confusing start when they do that in this game as the tutorial of Guns and Robots seems to be rushed and does not fully explain the ins and outs of robot creation and customization. This proves to be quite distressing for the newer players because unless they followed the tutorial religiously, chances are they would likely end up going into the robot and weapons building part of the game like a bull that’s been blindfolded and tasked to walk into a china shop. It feels like the game punishes the players who weren’t paying attention to the tutorial by leaving them to fend for themselves and try to figure out how to assemble a robot on their own. Then again, some players might like the challenge of going into the creation process with little to no knowledge, much like a daring inventor might do. But for the unimaginative ones, going into this portion of the game seemingly in the dark will be a bad experience altogether.
Regarding the gameplay, Guns and Robots’ queuing system needs to be worked on. After clicking the BATTLE button on the home screen, players are queued until a match is available. The problem lies with the type of game mode that players will do battle in. It seems that there is no way to choose what kind of match players want to try out. Those who are in queue are at the mercy of the Game Mode Gods and more often than not, it looks like the game chooses where the players will do mechanized combat at random. While for some, this randomness makes it more fun, as you’d never know what kind of battle to expect, this might be yet another source of frustration for those who want to get accustomed to the game types because they will most likely get pissed that they aren’t able to choose what game mode they want to familiarize and hone their skills with. Also, in one particular game mode, the Plant/Defuse the Bomb mode, the game does not give players the proper instructions on how to plant and defuse the aforementioned bomb. I’ve looked for the controls in the options part, but sadly, there are no controls that tell me how to plant it. This oversight proves to be infuriating because it leaves the players to figure things out for themselves yet again.
Finally, Guns and Robots have a somewhat limited social element to it. While players can interact with each other via global chat that is readily available on the home screen, players can still opt to be locked in their virtual basements, tinkering and upgrading their robots in solitude. Even in the various game modes, interacting with other players are done via gun shots, rockets, and laser shots to the face (and chassis) rather than the chat box. Then again, the greatest inventors are normally recluses who would rather be left to their own devices rather than stir up a conversation with other people, right?
With a very simple premise, Masthead Studios has managed to create an MMOTPS that truly commits with the theme they’ve set out for with Guns and Robots. A title that pretty much sums up what’s it all about, Guns and Robots captures the zany and fun atmosphere of battling machines while at the same time provide a surprisingly deep level of customization for players to invest themselves in, save for some minor flaws in gameplay. For those who want to experience being an architect of battling bots, this game is definitely worth checking out!
– fun robot and environment designs
– deep character (or in this case, robot) customization
– dynamic and fast-paced gameplay
– can be played via client or browser
– tutorial leaves a lot to be desired, especially when creating robots
– game modes seem to be chosen at random
– little social interaction between players