MicroBot, in concept, is one hell of a video game. The visuals are telling of what a developer can do with the schmup genre and it attempts to tell a basic story that isn’t too far-fetched. On top of that, it’s an intelligently designed game with a clever premise. But, when you boil it down to the bare necessities, MicroBot is a letdown when compared to the potential it had.
A twin-stick shooter that has players in the role of a robotic microbe, MicroBot asks players to fight off a robotic invasion inside the body that literally has 6-7 white blood cells to aid the player along their journey to find the virus. Biologists may think they are going to have a field day with MicroBot, but the truth of the matter is that the microorganisms are just a ploy for the developer to create a schmup that often goes through an identity crisis with each level.
Playing through the five sectors (chapters) and their four waypoints (levels), MicroBot is a tedious affair that is grates on the nerves. The first sector is an introduction to the title and doesn’t offer much exciting altercations. After that, the entertainment only lasts for one sector within its four waypoints since the remaining three sectors ramp up the difficulty. The lack of power in the player’s bot and overpowered enemies detract too much health when their attacks are successful. In addition, each sector isn’t wildly different than the last: change up the color, mix up a few of the objects and viola, you have a new sector.
For those who have never played a twin-stick shooter, the controls are among the most simple in gaming. Right stick is used to fire weapons and the left stick is used to steer. Outside of that, both triggers deploy special abilities in the form of a max of two auxiliary units, but they aren’t anything worth noting until they are maxed level. After collecting a Hydro-nuke and using it on my enemies, it became clear that the developers held back too much from the player. In order to get stronger, players are capable of upgrading and attaching seven weapons, but it simply takes far too long for the excitement to kick in for anyone to care. Each weapon can be leveled up three times, but it’s not until the third time that their effects are noticeable on the enemies since they, too, become stronger.
The unwelcoming gameplay isn’t the only thing that is disappointing; the music, storyline, lack of multiplayer, and pedestrian puzzles keep MicroBot becoming anything more than a shooter that falls short of its aspirations.
Starting out with a beautifully creepy soundtrack, the music falls right under its own feet as it stagnates and never offers anything new to the player beyond the first sector. The developers missed out on a chance to make this a truly eerie shooter like none other.
Similar to the music, the storyline, too, had a lot of potential. The first level has players being injected into the bloodstream with their goals to eliminate the virus threat. By the end of the game, the storyline is secondary and plays second fiddle to the developer’s attempts to challenge the player’s patience.
Surprisingly so, there is local cooperative play, but not a single mode is available for online multiplayer play. Perhaps the developers didn’t want to give the players any aid, but for whatever reason, the lack of multiplayer detracts in the long run since the offline Challenge Mode (rack up points over rounds, no extra lives, no checkpoints) doesn’t offer a crazy amount of replay value and the single-player campaign is monotonous beyond imagination.
And as for the puzzles, be prepared for the rawest form: press two buttons, open one door. This type appears more often than not, so players must be prepared to be enclosed in a small area with spawning enemies until the door is opened.
MicroBot had potential to be an inspiring and intellectual shooter. Instead, it relegates itself to falling into becoming a substandard shooter that couldn’t deliver on its promises outside of wonderful looking environments.
[Reviewed on: Xbox 360]