In Microbot, you fight spermbots replicating out of testicles. It isn’t explicit – but you’ll see it – in the second of five sectors during this twin-stick shooter from EA. A journey into the human body, Microbot has players fighting a war against an invading robotic army. The battlegrounds are your insides – you’ll tunnel through veins as your craft glides majestically through bodily fluids. White blood cells fight alongside you and rushing streams of blood carry your craft in their current. It’s a strange journey to look at – muted green and yellow sectors accented with white in the lungs; vibrant blue and white levels with vast pallet variation in the bones. It’s a game that most players will remember because of how it ‘feels’ to play more than any particular segment (and you fight spermbots).
You control a bot of your own sent in via syringe to fight the infection. Your craft starts with three arms, equipped with a couple of weapons and a propeller. As you navigate through passageways, enemy bots will attack in swarms. It starts too easy. The game keeps the player’s health meters high and your weapons entirely overpower foes. But at the end of the second sector, enemy spermbots swarm, and the game changes pace. You’ll face larger swarms against enemies with broader weapon types. Your arsenal will expand rapidly as you upgrade using power-ups found and fought for. You’ll eventually earn more attachment points, giving you the opportunity to create a craft of your own design. You can attach heat-seeking missiles, cannons, or even go with all rotors and puree your foes. Everything is upgradable, so by the end of the game, you have your own very unique craft.
Microbot could have really benefitted from shorter, tighter sectors. The pattern of the levels becomes quickly apparent, with somewhat dull trips through narrow corridors followed by battles in huge arenas. Only rarely are players forced to contend with spacial limitations AND swarms of enemies. All around, it plays out a little too slowly for this genre and it keeps players out of combat for too much of the experience. But while these issues definitely detract from the experience, Microbot is saved by feeling good to play. The fluidity of the craft moving through the resistant environment feels natural, like a skater on ice. But while it moves well, save for a couple of memorable boss battles, no others stand out. Most confrontations are fairly routine and boring.
Microbot is a game that has players waging war inside a body against spermbots. I cannot stress that point enough. The battles aren’t particularly memorable, but your craft and how it moves silkily through the environment will be. There are better twin-stickers on the market – Alien Breed 3: Decent and Dead Nation stand out in recent releases – but few play so comfortably. Craft customization adds playfulness to the game – you can make the craft anything you want, which definitely encourages experimentation as there are literally hundreds of combinations of crafts that you can create. Replay value is further expanded by a challenge mode that limits you to one life and co-op play. Fans of twin-stick shooters should check it out, but newcomers might do better looking somewhere else.
Here’s the rundown:
+ Awesome level of craft customization
+ The game feels good to play
– Battles become routine and too easy
– Action doesn’t take advantage of environment