10 Thoughts On… The Real Steel Demo (Sony PS3)

On the surface, Real Steel seems like the perfect movie to get its own video game. The premise is basically a flashier version of Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots. Who doesn’t think the idea of big robots beating the crap out of each other? It worked for One Must Fall 2097. It could certainly work for the latest Hugh Jackman movie.

Oddly enough, there is no big release at all. Instead, we get a game for downloadable platforms only. This actually is a pretty sweet deal. We all know that licensed games don’t tend to be worth a full price of admission. A cheap downloadable title seems like just the ticket. The demo his PSN on Tuesday and I decided to try it out.

1. The demo features four robots from the movie, though there are two others that are grayed out. These are Atom, Noisy Boy, Metro, and Midas. The grayed out bots are Zeus and Twin Cities. I have to say that you have a decent selection for a demo. The four robots look distinct and have their own animations and taunts. Each also has special moves unique to them. My favorite became Atom, which is probably the point. He is the featured robot of the movie after all.

2. As this game is make by Yukes, it feels very familiar to those who’ve played a UFC game. You punch using the four face buttons. You have two light attacks and two heavy attacks. It basically amounts to one of each for each arm. You can throw combinations and mix things up. Also, there is a modifier button to allow for special attacks. These blows take a while to charge up but land to devastating affect. It is very similar to the Undisputed style, except with more punches and no kicks. You can alternate attacking the body and head by using the right analog stick.

3. There is a simple blocking system in place. You hold a shoulder button and move the stick to block up and/or down. If you time a block right, you can leave the opponent open to a strong counter attack. You can also sway or dash if the mood fits you. This makes it easy to dodge in one direction and throw punches. You can’t block forever though, as your arms get damaged.

4. The game uses a combination health/stamina system to monitor your status. You have a core health that depletes as you get hit. Like in a lot of fighters, some damage can be regenerated over time provided you avoid taking more hits. Also, you have health for your arms, head and torso. If these get too damaged, they can be knocked off, causing you to lose by TKO. Your stamina depletes with every punch and dodge. If you run out, you’ll be unable to use super attacks or dodge properly until it recharges. Managing this is vital to your ability to continue.

5. If you should get knocked down, things aren’t over. You start a minigame that involves rotating the analog stick to charge a meter. At any time, you can press a face button to fill up one of four bars. These bars will drain until filled up to full. If you can fill them all up, you’re back on your feet and ready to go again. If you fail, you’ll lose by knockout. I didn’t particularly like this game, but it certainly was frantic enough to get the point across.

6. In between rounds, you’ll have a decision to make. You can choose to get a health boost on one of your four body parts or boost your attack. Either way, you’ll get some core HP back. This time should be spent wisely, as you can save a damaged body part or get just the boost you need to land a finishing blow. There’s something special about coming out in the second round and landing a huge flourish.

7. Each of the robots has their own stats with drastically effect how they handle. They all have varying degrees of health, attack, and defense. However, health recharge, punch speed, and mobility are just as important. For example, Metro is practically a tank. He’s got high HP, strong resistance, and powerful punches. However, he’s slow as molasses. This means you need to time your attacks carefully, otherwise faster bots will hit you while you’re in the middle of a move. On the other side of things, Atom is a fast little bugger that should be bobbing and weaving as well as landing punches in flurries. Single punches won’t do much, so combinations are key.

8. The art style of the game matches the movie pretty well. The bots look pretty great. Some are shined up as if they just came out of the shop, whereas others looks like rusted hunks of junk created out of a few old cars. The arena you fight in is practically in Fight Club territory. Everything looks grungy. I have to say, I wasn’t too impressed, but it fit the game pretty well.

9. A disappointing thing about the demo is that it doesn’t delve at all into the customization aspects of the full game. A huge thing about Real Steal is creating your own bot from a multitude of parts in order to create your own style as well as boost stats. There is nothing of that sort on display here. If you’re trying to sell people on the game, I really think that a taste of that feature should have been included.

10. Overall, this game is interesting. The combat system has some merits, even if it is a bit simple. I’m definitely interested in what the full game can do. After all, Yukes has proven themselves to be a competent developer for one on one sports based fighting games. If you want to get the full game, give this demo a try. If you like it, the game will be worth the ten dollar asking price.

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