Broken Bots

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action
Release Date: June 7, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'Broken Bots'

by Brian Dumlao on Aug. 12, 2016 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Broken Bots is arcade-style multiplayer robot warfare where players dish out power-ups to teammates and glitches to foes. Customize weapons, passives, and skills before battling it out!

One of the unwritten rules about competitive shooters is that you only have two perspectives. You can go with a first-person perspective, which almost every game does, or you can go with the third-person perspective, which performs the same way but gives you a camera that's pulled back a bit. Very rarely will you see anyone attempt to do something different in this space, which is why Bunnycopter's Broken Bots stands out so much. It's just too bad that there isn't much to place it in must-play territory.

The hooks are twofold. The first is that you're playing a traditional twin-stick shooter from a top-down perspective. As expected, the wider field of view means that you're more situationally aware of what's going on, but it also means that in the heat of 12-player skirmishes, you'll get a better sense of how chaotic things can be. Aside from this, your abilities will be familiar to those who love playing competitive shooters. Your bots are differentiated by their stats and guns, whether they're standard machine guns, flamethrowers, or plasma shooters. You can equip four different boosts to compensate for your bot's shortcomings or to further solidify its strengths. You can also equip your bot with two different power-ups that all run on cooldown timers, whether they're health boosts, cloaking, or the ability to throw down turrets.

The second hook is the malfunction ability. Whether you're using an EMP or powering up a meter to fire off one shot, making contact with any bot using those weapons will cause them to gain a malfunction effect, which can be cut short with a health boost. The effect is completely randomized, so you can get detriments such as your guns firing off-cadence to reversed controls or slower moving speed. Those malfunctions can also be beneficial, so you can get things like faster speed or the ability to fire your guns in a spread pattern. The inability to select which effect you'll fire gives the game a nice risk/reward system, but it is unfortunate that you have no idea which malfunctions others are experiencing.

Broken Bots features the standard assortment of multiplayer modes. Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, and both the regular and crazy varieties of King of the Hill make up your competitive multiplayer modes, while Survival is your lone co-op mode. Aside from the various customization options for these modes and the fact that you're playing from a top-down perspective, they play no differently from other competitive shooters, so you'll be able to jump in and play without much of a learning curve.

One issue you'll find with the game is that it seems to have no community, despite incorporating PS4 players into the mix. The chances of finding any group of players online at any one time is small to none unless you make arrangements beforehand. Luckily, the game makes liberal use of bots to fill in the empty spaces if desired, so you won't be left hanging for a match.

Admittedly, we've had to speculate on actual multiplayer play via forums and such, since we couldn't get into the servers. Throughout the whole review period, the online servers were having trouble, so the game couldn't connect to a match at all. Even if you plan on playing with bots, the title's inability to connect to its servers means that a huge chunk of the game is rendered useless, leaving Infiltration as the only option for those wanting to play.

Infiltration is the only available offline mode. In it, you take your bot through five levels where you fight off waves of enemy bots while looking for switches to open doors that take you deeper into the enemy base. The mode provides a decent challenge, and it is good fun overall thanks to the solid shooting. However, at only five levels, it is short enough to keep you busy for an afternoon and doesn't provide much replay value unless you want to unlock things before heading out for online play.

From a presentation perspective, Broken Bots does things well enough. The graphics are well done, with some good bot design and color choice counteracting the otherwise drab appearance of the stages. Things move well, and the game handles a multitude of objects without stuttering or otherwise missing a beat. Aside from the sound of gunfire and explosions, the game is otherwise devoid of other effects, like movement or even activating some power-ups. While that is very noticeable, few players may be bothered by it, since the music is well done. There aren't too many tracks, but the standard action fare with hints of chiptune make for good background noise.

The top-down perspective of Broken Bots does enough to catch your attention as the malfunction abilities. Even without any innovative modes at hand, those are enough to make this game worthy of a look, especially at the rather cheap price of $6.99. However, the online issues due to a lack of community and heavy server dependence kill the game, and the single-player mode isn't enough to keep people interested should those aforementioned issues fail to get fixed. It can be a fun title if you know you have a group of friends willing to jump in, but it would be best to pass on this title until the server woes are addressed.

Score: 5.5/10

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