App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Getting drawn in to the world of RobotGladi8tor is easy. I mean look at it. It's got the kind of gritty sci-fi atmosphere that doesn't get much iOS love these days. With Unreal behind it, no less. Wanting to stay in this universe is another matter entirely.
We all know the premise: good-guy gets railroaded, ends up on some kind of death-dealing spectator sport of the future, has to fight for his freedom and hopefully get back at the bad-guy, etc... It's eerily like the criminally under appreciated Schwarzenegger classic, The Running Man, actually. Only in space and with robots. Players take control of the enigmatic "Number 8" as he explores the derelict space station, boosts ratings, and fights his way past a small battalion of mechanized ne'er-do-wells.
Aside from looking pretty, RobotGladi8tor also offers up a decent amount of exploration. Keycards can be tracked down, new weapons can be uncovered in various nooks and crannies, and there's almost always something looking for a fight around the next corner. Being a Speedbump production it also features some very well-done voice work and some excellent music. That pretty much makes them two-for-two now.
It's a shame that there are so many small irritations that hold the overall experience back. For one thing the "open world" isn't actually all that open. There's some exploration to be had, but those are just small detours along the main path. Plus the "world" in question is actually rather small, all things considered. At least when compared to other titles that use the open world bullet point. The controls are also fairly problematic. There's a little lag with the controls and the visuals during fights, but they're more of an annoyance while navigating. Swiping to look around takes forever and there's no way to adjust the sensitivity. I've also gotten stuck on environmental geometry. Oh, and I've fallen to my death on several occasions thanks to clunky movement during "that part with the lifts." Players will know it when they get there. Last but not least, I was extremely disappointed to find myself finishing the game within about an hour or so (and "To be continued?" Really now?). Although I suppose I just expected more because of the description. The bigger disappointment I have about the length is that there's no incentive to play it again aside from getting higher ratings, and those aren't even really tracked. No New Game+. No unlockable stuff. I even have to manually reset my game if I want to play through again from the beginning.
It may seem like I wasn't a fan of RobotGladi8tor, but that's not true. I enjoyed it. I just had to work to enjoy it, which is sort of a problem. Still, it's certainly not a bad effort. It just needs some tweaking. And perhaps a bit more... stuff.