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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: June 10, 2002
Few things are more fun to contemplate than building robots and setting them loose to fight against other user-created robots in colorful arenas. Combining the advantages of construction simulation, arcade action, and combat games, such a computer title would seem to appeal to a huge audience. Well, Climax Development has taken a stab at satisfying this desire by creating, for BBC Multimedia, Robot Wars: Arenas of Destruction. Released on the PlayStation 2 as well as the PC, will this release fulfill this mechanized combat fantasy?
Robot Wars is based on the popular British television series of the same name and attempts to please the show’s huge fan base. Although I personally have never viewed the program, from what I understand the onscreen robot clashes are quite exciting to watch. To succeed in that show, as well as in this game, you need to be able to design a robot combining strength, speed, and versatility and then execute nimbly a variety of sophisticated offensive and defensive moves in the battle arena. So both quick reflexes and strategic planning are vital to victory. With limited funds, you have to make tough choices about what to put into your mechanized fighting machine. Your ultimate goal is to be crowned champion of Robot Wars.
To build or customize your robots so you have exactly the capabilities you want in battle, you utilize the Robot Workshop. Unlike in some other titles such as the MechWarrior series, here use of this workshop is absolutely essential, for if you just use an existing prefabricated robot you lose quickly. Indeed, the default robot available at the very beginning, lamely called “Your First Bot,” is extremely weak. You begin by choosing the body, and then pick the locomotion, power source, drive, weaponry, armor, and extras such as horns and sirens. You may buy brand-new parts at the Shop, purchase used parts at the Scrapyard, or exchange parts. You may even alter the color and name of your robot if you wish. Displayed robot statistics aiding with your design are weight, cost, strength, speed, pushing power, agility, and attack power; the tradeoffs are obvious between small, light, fast machines and large, heavy, slow ones. Having the flexibility provided to make these construction choices yourself from a quite wide variety of components is a real boon.
The weapons selection for your robot creations is particularly intriguing. You have a lot to choose from here, including axes, crushers, flippers, flame throwers, hammers, saws, and spikes. Using money earned from previous successes, you may purchase robot upgrades, such as better defensive armor and better offensive armaments. Each of the weapons works very distinctively, having special limits in the type of damage created and the angle from which you may attack, and they also look very different in their actual battlefield operation. On each robot it is helpful that you have a primary and secondary weapon available, so that if one is disabled you are not totally helpless to fight back.
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