Simulations can usually be rather slow, and time consuming. Take my review on Ships 2017 for example. However this game, Robot Squad Simulator 2017 really does add some drama and action.
You control a series of special robots, each designed to perform various tasks on the field. Bomb disposal, crash recovery, infiltration. The game introduces you to a very similar theme to, Ships 2017. Before you proceed, you must first purchase the only robot available and upgrade it slightly by purchasing things such as a camera, or upgrading the speed, and endurance; there are ten different accessories that can be mounted onto your robot. Once you’re good to go you can begin with the training missions. There are four robots to control.
The EOD is an all terrain robot, with six wheels in total, and although it has six wheels it’s not amazingly fast. It’s a little bit similar to Wall-E an interactive arm that can grab, and drill. It’s used to transporting items such as bombs, or gold deposits, as well as having the ability to press buttons and disarm bombs. It’s a fairly handy robot, and is possibly the most precise, enabling you to really gain control of that arm and reach things the other robots can’t.
This is a right little speedy RC Car type robot, it allows you to quickly travel along the terrain, and fit in small spaces. It can have a speaker installed into it to distract guards when activated. The camera system also acts as a digital interference system, allowing the small Spy to activate buttons that are too high up for it to reach.
As you’d expect, the drone flies. Allowing you to scale the skies and travel through obstacle ridden rooms, this robot allows you to travel to wreckage’s and carefully manoeuvre around obstructions, but it can become dangerously affected by strong winds, resulting in a spin out and crash.It can have a grasper attached to its body to allow transportation of small goods.
The submarine acts like a submarine, it can submerge itself underwater and travel around, although a handy robot, it’s hard to manoeuvre, especially when underwater currents are prominent.
The controls for all of the robots can come across fairly simple, although at the same time they are a little bit complicated, especially when it comes to changing between arm controls, and driving. The main issue with the controls was that the turning system with the A, and D keys can’t only be used when moving forward, and the Q, and E keys rotate your robot on the spot; there could have been a simple approach by combining the turning and rotation. As it happens, for the land robots, they have good grip and stick fairly nicely to the terrains, but for the drone and the submarine the rotating and turning is very floaty and falls under the irritating system of a slow build up leading into a fast spin.
On top of the weird controls with the drone and the submarine, the land vehicles end up with an irritating camera system. Throughout the game you have two camera modes. Third person where you can either lock the camera in whatever direction, or free camera where you can orbit the robot with your camera. First person where you look directly through the front of the robot. The thing is, I’m rather partial to playing it in third person, and occasionally on the grounded robots the camera automatically changes to first person, which is fine, there’s no indication that the game will do that, but it’s all good. The annoying thing is the third person camera when you end up with the camera being at an awkward angle, and any other angle restricts your view horrendously. Not really much can be done with that, but it’s just an annoying issue for me really.
Now with the word, “Simulator” thrown into the title, I was expecting gameplay that was slow, and boring, but as it turns out, Robot Squad Simulator 2017 is actually fairly action packed. The tutorial levels focus on guiding you around a training environment designed to mimic an actual mission environment, but with signs as guides. Each training level starts with a brief explanation on what to expect and what your goals are. Once they’re over, you jump right into a real world mission. Missions end up ranging from inspecting collapsed mines, searching shipwrecks, and finding out where the contents of a briefcase have vanished too, and even more. In total there are six training missions, and sixteen story missions, each ones offerings exploration elements, rescue missions, spy missions, and military type missions. It’s a nice action packed game from these missions alone, with snipers manning roads, guards blocking the way, explosions, and strong weather elements.
The HUD looks simple, and doesn’t really get in the way of gameplay, although the map symbols can be a bit easy to forget on top of not really standing out. When you’re assigned to look for wreckage parts, the props are shown in a pulsating orange glow which makes for easy viewing, and I’m confused that the developer didn’t think to use the same colour scheme for the map elements, just to make them stand out a little bit more from the desaturated, almost monochromatic map. There’s also options to zoom in and out of the map, fully zoom in/out, and lock it from rotating. In the bottom left there’s the controls that remain there, actually a rather handy thing to have when it comes to remembering what some functions are.
Along the bottom there are the hotkeys for the robot functions, and up in the top right there is the current objective. All the information is there, and it’s always there for your convenience. I feel like I need to reiterate this part, because I really do like how the instructions on controls are shown all the time, it really saves time without having to jump through several main menu screens to get to the control key bindings section. There are levels where you end up having to use more than one robot, and as a result need to work together to achieve certain tasks, in the bottom left you can see what robots are available to you within that mission, and to change it requires a very simple, 1, 2, 3, 4 hotkey press.
Graphically the game is rather pretty. It looks gritty, and realistic to an extent, the shading is impressive, as is the lighting on the surfaces of the robot, but on everything else it appears rather flat. The overall colour of the game is also quite desaturated and really comes across like it’s trying to be serious and dramatic. The interior levels aren’t as great at the exterior ones, but they do show off some great lighting sources, but other than that, there’s not much wow-factor when it comes to the area lighting. The music is rather military, similar to those scores where you get some type of marching scene within a film, or deployment scene. Sound effects aren’t incredibly engaging, although there are moments with the submarine where you go underwater and the audio changes in accordance.
It’s a good game which shows a lot of promise, but the lack of physics, weird shading in some levels, and confusing controls makes it that little less engrossing as a game. The controls, when rotating in particular are a real frustration to me, but other than that I did enjoy my time with it, and the developing several stories. It’s certainly worth a look at if you feel like you want an action packed simulator.