Review By: Josh Miller-Watt
|# Of Players:||1-4|
Robocalypse is one of the few true RTS offerings on the DS, its only true competitor the FF Reveant wings franchise. The offering from Vogster entertainment is their first project, and the success of the game has been enough that a Wii version of the franchise is now in development.
The premise of the game is this: You play a geeky engineer named Myron, who works at a robotics factory, and spends all his days lusting over the beautiful scientist Flaxen Hayer. One day, on the same production floor, the company is producing automatic robotic toasters with exceptionally good manners on one line, and on the other Flaxen Hayer’s project s being made: a series of highly lethal robots intended for military use. An unfortunate machine error occurs, and the soldier-bots become imbued with the artificial intelligence of their toaster counterpart. The Demolisher (the titular head of these polite robots) soon decide that it’s probably in their best interest to destroy all of humanity - as politely as possible, of course. I order to fight these machines of malice, you’re going to have to create your own army of robots to combat them. Luckily, due to his abundance of spare time, Myron has created a brain-scan helmet, and even more luckily, some World War II veteran heroes happen to be touring the facility. A quick scan and one data input later, and you have a line of killer robots to combat the scourge of the Demolisher’s forces and save humanity.
The graphics in the game are hit-and-miss. The cutscenes are presented in a sort of animated-comic-book fashion, with a minimum of voice acting. The menus, however simple they may be, get the job done pretty well. And the actual gameplay graphics? Fantastic. The characters have a unique comical look about them and the animation is smooth and fluid. Even with a totally packed screen, I never experienced any slowdown, so Vogster really knows how to make the ds work.
The sound is particularly well done. The music is very fitting - both militarily themed and comical. Picture a marching tune with three stooges sound effects. The little snippets of voice acting on characters helps to lend them some personality and make them stand out - as well as draw your attention to the important parts of the battle. Couple all this with gunfire, laser and assorted other sound effects, and you have an aural experience that is tough to compete with.
The gameplay is classic RTS from the get-go. If you’ve played RTSes before, then you’ll be glad to know, all of those skills are transferrable to robocalypse. Gather materials, build troops, create buildings, upgrade troops, and attack or defend according to your objectives. The game actually only has three basic unit types - light soldier (who will be your go-to guy pretty much all the time), Heavy soldier (Powerful, but slow, and has difficulty mounting attacks), and the medic (heals people - duh). You can upgrade each of these units twice to give them more Health, firepower, and battery charge. However, what makes this game stand a cut above most RTSes is the heroes system. The game has heavily borrowed from Warcraft III, in that you can create up to three hero units, whose abilities vary depending on their type. From your big damage-soaking dual machine-gun wielding assault hero, to the sneaky scout/sniper combo, all the way to leader heroes, who assume command of various troops and enhance their stats to bolster your attacking power, and last but not least, the flamethrower hero, who has a ridiculous attack capacity, but low health - essentially, a glass cannon. To order your various foot troops, you place action flags and defense flags on the map, and the troops will flock to them to complete the objective. Placing more than one flag can split your forces, though, so two-pronged attacks are possible - but not recommended. It’s worth noting that heavy troops don’t follow action flags too well, but follow defense flags VERY well. Good luck getting them into the assault. The flag system can be a bit irritating until you get the hang of it, and even once you do, you wonder why you can’t just directly select and order a unit. It's obvious that Vogster was tryig to simplify the process a bit, but they really just ended up obfuscating it even more. But aside from this variance, the game uses well-established tropes of RTSes. The elements may be pared down in some ways (for instance, you can only build structures on certain platforms), but it works for the DS, and for the most part, it works very well.
Bottom Line:Robocalypse is a solid RPG with slick in-game presentation and sharp sound. The writing is wonderfully self-aware of its cheesiness, breaking the fourth wall with pretty much every cutscene that it shows. And I can honestly say that I didn’t see the ending coming. A solid buy for RTS fans, and the beginning of a great franchise. My one gripe is the cumbersome flag system, but once you get around that, you’re golden.
Posted: 2009-09-23 20:15:53 PST