Though you won’t find Hugh Jackman starring in the iOS/Android spin-off to the 85-million-dollar-grossing film sharing the same two words as its name, Real Steel: World Robot Boxing is just as tough and impressive in many respects. It’s got a number of familiar characters – Midas and Atom should be the highlights for many – as well as the confidence to expand the Real Steel universe, shaping it into a free-to-play game that’s got many likeable features and some impressive visuals. Can these factors impress players enough to make them forget about some design issues though? You’ll find out in the review below.
A Guy’s Dream Game
The game is a guy’s dream from the premise right through to its content. It’s effectively a modern-day version of the classic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots action toy/game played by millions of people around the world before video games were even a widespread thing. World Robot Boxing, set after the events of the Real Steel film, has you fighting against a variety of robot challengers, with your opponents increasing in difficulty as you fight your way through each match. To match with you opponents’ ever-increasing skill set, you are yourself able to build yourself up, effectively upgrading your way to a better fighting character as you go.
Forget realistic, human-competitors boxing, though. EA Sports Fight Night Round 4 this game is not: this is a robot-only affair. Controlling the action is made possible with on-screen buttons and a D-Pad on the left of the screen. Though the graphics are obviously three-dimensional, the fighting itself takes place on a two-dimensional plane, each robot only able to move in relatively straight lines back and forward. It’s all about punches and blocks of course, this being much like Western boxing in its rules. The buttons on screen allow you to perform either a light or heavy attack, as well as blocking and manoeuvring being crucial to your success as you fight your way through your robot opponents.
There are a few facets to the gameplay that make this game more enjoyable as you play it. You’ll learn that using the D-Pad with the light or heavy attack buttons results in the throwing of a variety of different attacks. As you’d sort of expect from a fighting game, there’s a power bar to be filled as well, which as you guessed, charges up with successful punches and blocks. Once you fill the meter, you can then initiate a unique, robot-specific attack.
Finishing moves are also included here, only they’re not quite as brutal as those you’ll find in Mortal Kombat. They’re still satisfying though: tap the right parts of your opponent when they’re depleted of energy, and you’ll unleash a deadly combination, often finishing with one or more parts of the opponent flying into the air or dropping off onto the floor. On the whole, finishing moves are quite a rarity in robot games – take a look on www.friendlyrobotics.co.uk if you don’t believe this – so the inclusion of them here in large quantity and slickly-executed style make the action all the more enjoyable.
Because Real Steel: World Robot Boxing is free to play, you’re inevitably going to run into some progress barriers. Sadly, you can only engage in five fights per session, though in-app purchases allow you to fight as often as you please. Much of the in-app purchases involve increasing your gold in the game, which can be spent on removing these road blocks to the real entertainment. Pop-up adverts are also to be expected for the non-paying player, and these can be quite intrusive at times.
This is one area where the game really shines. Though the fighting itself moves on a 2D plane, the 3D rendering of the scenery and the robot characters is quite impressive considering this is a mobile game. The animations for each of the characters, including the special and finishing moves, are very well executed. There’s a good quantity of slo-mo to be enjoyed as well, often employed on the last strike of a finishing move to make things all the more dramatic.
Being dramatic is what the game in general is really all about, anyway. The concept of boxing robots is, after all a rather silly one, outrageous even. For all the guy gamers out there however, there couldn’t be anything better than the idea of a punch-up between two epic robots (that’s what Robot Wars was all about, remember). The controls are solid, the fighting itself is entertaining, but the in-app purchases could be a little less insistent. In-app purchases and pop-up ads aside, Reliance Games did a great job with this one.