Whoever said that love was a battlefield has apparently never been a tiny robot inside of the human body. If they did, they would soon realize that love has nothing on the raging battle going on right now in your body… That is, if your body is infested with malicious Microbots. In Microbot, you play as a single Microbot armed to the teeth and sent to destroy an infection of malicious Microbots. That’s pretty much all you get for story and, to be honest, I’m quite ok with that. If I had to put Microbot in a category it would definitely go under shooter. There are some obstacles to overcome and tad bit of puzzle solving, but overall it’s a shooter and the human body is the arena.
The first thing you will notice about Microbot is it’s over all presentation. At all times you stay in the perspective of this tiny micro object. Even when the start your first game, the first thing that happens is you are sucked into a syringe and then injected into a body (it looks more fun than it feels). Once you’re inside you definitely get the feeling that you are inside something living; various tubes pumping fluid in line with a heartbeat, sounding like you’re underwater, etc. There is lots of movement in the background; larger objects than yourself getting around and various other functions happening. Sometimes enemies will actually come from the background. I know the first sub-boss I ran into scared the crap out of me when he popped out of the background. Some enemies are more subtle though and before you know it you will find yourself dead because you didn’t pay attention to the subtle shadow getting bigger and bigger until it finally eats you.
As mentioned before, there are malicious Microbots that you need to get rid of while on your journey through the body. Most of them will hijack some type of organism in the body and use it against you. Most of the time when you destroy the organism you also destroy the bot, but that’s not always the case. More than a few times I destroyed the organism and then started going after another bot, only to get shot in the back by a bot I thought I destroyed.
Some bots are melee, some are ranged, and some are both. On top of that, there are several different types of each class. Some melee bots only hit you while others may leave behind a fluid that will trap and damage you or just run into you kamikaze style. Same thing on the ranged side, some may just shoot at you while others shoot homing missiles or have projectiles that leave an acid once they explode. You will also come across bosses at the end of each sector. Boss fights can be long depending on how your Microbot is setup. I can’t say I ran across an “easy” boss fight, but setting yourself up with the right weapons can definitely speed up a fight.
Enemies get progressively harder in each level so you won’t get bored fighting with them. The combination of the enemies that the developer uses in certain area adds great challenge to the game. That along with the fact that sometimes checkpoints are few and far between, and that you really don’t have that much health can really make for some tense situations. Nothing that your pimped out Microbot can’t handle!
Your Microbot highly customizable. There are a plethora of parts for you to use that you can separate into four categories: weapons, propulsion, auxiliary, and defense. Each part has a specific function in their category and you can mix and match them to fit your play style. I choose to go with dual Electron Guns and Seeker Missiles so my screen was very busy at all times. However, some may like to be a bit more efficient and kill more enemies at once so they will use the Particle Cannon or other weapons that have a stronger punch but shoot slower with fewer projectiles.
The weapons have very obvious differences when you read about them; propulsion on the other hand is something I had to experience to decide what I needed. You start with the paddle which gives you great braking power, but making tight turns is a different story. I then got the rotor which lets you hit zero point turning. This worked out much better for me, but at the same time I did kind of miss the braking power at times. Defense is something I honestly didn’t use. My defense was not getting hit, but if you want to you can have shields or add more health to your health meter by attaching those parts. Auxiliary items have a wide range of functions. An item like the Harpoon will connect a tow cable to the walls of the body or drag items that are far close to you, or you can use an item like Virus which scrambles enemy targeting systems.
All of your parts are selected and upgraded at Upgrade Terminals. There is at least one in every level, most of the time at the beginning, but on some of the longer levels there are two. To unlock new parts you need to collect data fragments from enemies. Specific enemies will drop specific fragments based on their function. Different parts require varying amounts of fragments, but once you collect enough you will be able to add that part the next time you go to the Upgrade Terminal. Parts have three levels; each level increases the effectiveness of each part. You upgrade your parts by collecting Atoms throughout the game by destroying enemies, destroying sacks that have Atoms in them, or you may just find them hanging around. Some Atoms are dual purpose and will heal you when you pick it up.
Besides making your way through the body and tearing up enemy Microbots, there is also quite a bit of exploration to be had. You have a navigation map, but the map doesn’t really give you any details; just a general idea of where you are and which way you should be going. This definitely pushes you to explore a bit more than normal. Exploration is usually rewarded with Atoms, special items, or even perhaps allies. White blood cells are present throughout the body. If you attack them they will attack you, but if they see you attack bacteria or other Microbot they will assist you. Along with the white blood cells there are also several items in the environment to help you. You can knock over certain structures to destroy enemies as well as shoot certain objects to make them explode which will also take out a few of your enemies.
I was expecting to have fun with Microbot simply because it looked like a shooter I would enjoy. I was definitely pleasantly surprised with the amount of customization, variations of enemies, and overall challenge of the game. I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes shooters and enjoys a challenge. With shooters those typically go hand in hand so I would imagine it’s suitable for all fans of shooters. You can pick it up on XBLA and PSN for $10. I was trying to think of something catchy to say at the end, but I really can’t. How’s this for a quote: Get the game… It’s Awesome.