In this XBLA title, Electronic Arts shows the small-game studios that it doesn’t hurt to put a bit more work into an XBLA arcade release. I’ve played
quite a few Live Arcade games, and MicroBot is by far, the best among them.
BETTER THAN OLD HOME REMEDIES
Cooler Than a Dennis Quaid Movie - For those of you who have seen the movie “Inner Space,” this game follows a very similar premise—you control a microscopic ship that been injected into someone’s body, only instead of the patient being Martin Short, it’s some nameless, faceless person who has been infected by some micro-robotic pathogen…kind of like the way the Borg are made.
However, the graphics and effects make both Quaid’s movie and The Next Generation look like, well, an 80’s movie a 90’s TV sci-fi drama, respectively. This game’s graphics are very well done. The settings and backdrops really separate this game from the average XBLA experience. The depth and lighting effects in addition to the excellent sound really give you visceral feeling of cruising around someone’s gooey insides.
Now Available in Extra Strength - One thing I love about this game is the wide variety of upgrades you can buy that make your little Bot faster, stronger, and more agile. The upgrade system really keeps you playing in a game where you just shoot things over and over. This also gives you more in the way of replay value: it’s a pretty good time going back to past sections and womping the crud out of the baddies with your souped-up Bot.
Long-Lasting Flavor - Besides the campaign, where you get your upgrades and play through various systems in the body, the game also comes with a survival mode. You’re given one chance to set up your Bot before you go barreling in to achieve the highest score you can in one life and rank yourself among the rest of the MicroBotic world. I like how the creators found a way to integrate the main game into the “arcade” mode, as you one-time choice for load out on this mode is determined by what you unlock in the main game. It’s a nice mechanic that makes the game a little bit more than the sum of its parts.
Negative Side-effects are Minimal in Most Patients - For what it’s worth, I didn’t see a lot of negatives with this game. At times it was a little frustrating saving up points for an upgrade only to find that I didn’t really like the one I bought. With no “Sell-Back” feature, you have to start all over racking up the purchasing power to buy what you really need or want.
Another thing that could have been improved upon was the story line. Even if it was just to tell us why we’re fighting off this infection, how it came about, etc. There is a story there, but it’s never really flushed out. Not telling us the “why” might work for a George Romero movie, but for a video game from a developer of this caliber it’s like gluing a carrot to horse’s head an calling it a unicorn.
Microbot is definitively one of those games that is set apart from most XBLA offerings. It has great graphics, a leveling system, and an addicting survival mode. Although it lacks in story for a game with EA’s name tagged to it, with a price 800 MS you get a lot of game for your points so it’s worth the purchase for fans of top-down shooters.
- Collin Lucke