As Sam McRae, last surviving member of the “Titan Hauler” crew, you must hack and blast your way through an onslaught of truly bad ‘bots to find a way to prevent a potential planet-destroying catastrophe. The mystery of what happened to everyone while you were in cryostasis unfolds around you as you wade through the bodies of your fallen shipmates, unloading round after round into your relentless automaton attackers.
What We Think
Bad Bots is an apt title for a game crawling with malevolent, gun-toting robots with a chip on their shoulder. Developed by Point 5 Projects, Bad Bots is a 2D shooter set aboard a massive retired battleship turned toxic waste hauler. The small army of robots onboard have turned against their human masters and it’s your job to fight your way through the horde. To do this you’ll make use of an arsenal of weapons while working your way through the various obstacles strewn throughout the ship.
The gameplay of Bad Bots features a healthy mix of gun-toting action and light puzzling. The Titan is split up into separate rooms (170 of them to be exact) that load individually making for an experience mildly reflective of classic platformer/action titles like Flashback. Bad Bots is far more action focused than the early 90s platformer however, and you’ll be blasting away bots for much more time than you spend mulling over puzzles.
Lots o’ Bots
Taking on the role of Sam McRae you must explore the now dead ship and fight through many different types of murderous robot. The ship itself presents a strong variety of dangers from exposed electrics to more insidious threats such as the garbage crusher. That said, the bots are the main threat and there are plenty of types for you to blow away. The different types are also used in a variety of ways to keep the battle fresh. For example the speedy, knife wielding melee type robot is a low threat early on when they appear in small numbers but later in the game they are sprung upon you in enormous hordes, making them an intimidating foe.
Thankfully there are many weapons to help you fight these enemies off. You can carry three weapons at once: a melee weapon, a rifle and a special weapon. You’ll generally be fighting with your rifle while occasionally switching to your special weapon when desperate measures are called for. Special weapons include the shotgun, double shot, pulsar gun, cannon and more. These help to keep the vast numbers of robots off of you but you’ll occasionally find ammo running low if you don’t manage your fire carefully. The variety of weapons is certainly sufficient and it’ll keep the action from getting dull.
There is also a generous collection of bosses to fight through as you progress through the campaign. Some bosses simply take a lot of punishment to bring down while others will take a little thought to out-maneuver. Storing up that powerful weapon for the big enemies is wise but it won’t necessarily work for every boss. The bosses are well distributed throughout the campaign and while a few could do with a larger health pool they generally present a good challenge and an enjoyable high point in the adventure.
The ship itself is a great environment to explore and fight through. While you are generally ushered in a particular path the game does a good job of creating a sense of freedom and so the geography of the ship almost becomes familiar as you navigate its blood soaked halls. Some tasks involve passing through previously explored areas and there are a few hidden rooms to be sought out.
Once Automaton A Time
The story is surprisingly engrossing. It won’t win any awards for drama and it is a tad predictable but Bad Bots has an endearing and sometimes rather amusing narrative that helps to establish a well crafted atmosphere. It didn’t take long for the tongue and cheek plot to sink its hooks in and I quickly found myself pushing forward to see the next comic book style cut-scene.
The graphics of Bad Bots are sufficient to develop a style that sits comfortably next to the aforementioned cut-scenes. The bots go up in satisfying fireballs when you bring them down and the sound effects are meaty enough to underscore these visuals. A lot of the game lacks music, however, and while the sound effects are of a high quality, a little more music would help to improve the feel of the game.
How We Drone On…
Bad Bots is an enjoyable title with some well designed gameplay. The story is has some fun characters and the action remains entertaining thanks to the wide array of enemies, weapons and bosses. The puzzle aspects could be a little stronger but that isn’t really the focus of Bad Bots. When you finish the campaign there are a few extra challenges to extend the action. Thankfully, Bad Bots also has full controller and Big Picture support on Steam so you can just kick back on your couch and frag in comfort. Altogether Bad Bots is a worthy purchase for anyone who enjoys 2D action or a well designed adventure.