They've been promised time and again: Facebook games for "gamers". Looking past the label, it's safe to say that time has come. Games on Facebook that traditional game fans can appreciate have arrived, one of the most notable being Robot Rising. Brought to you by developer Stomp Games and publisher Tencent Boston, Robot Rising shows incredible promise for the future of social games.
Although it does oh, so many things right, it misses the mark in a major area, one that defines the genre. But first, Robot Rising is one of the most gorgeous social games seen to date. That's thanks to Unity and in no small part to the talent at Stomp Games. (Of course, this also means that interested players will need to download the Unity player, but such a thing should be second nature for more seasoned game fans.)
Regardless of whether the world in this action RPG is technically devoid of it, Robot Rising looks full of life, with artfully detailed textures and explosions brimming with flares of light. Believable sound effects, like the whir of gears churning and the clang of steel feet meeting the floor, are indispensable in increasing the (buzz word of the year) immersion. In any decent action game, both combined are only as good as how it feels to interact with the world.
In the overworld in which you research and build new parts for your killer machine of choice, every building reacts to your touch with visual flair and metallic fanfare. Using your spoils from battle to deck out your fully-customizable robot is a fun exercise in micromanagement, but it's more entertaining to acquire said spoils. (Isn't it always?) If Robot Rising were a game to be sold in a plastic case, "explosive, engaging and skillful combat" would be the first bullet point on the back.
Just like in almost any Facebook game, players click around to navigate the world and interact with other robots (i.e. bomb them into bits of nuts and bolts). But what makes Robot Rising unique from other "hardcore"-focused Facebook games is the feedback that the environment and its inhabitants give the player. While that generally amounts to explosions of fire, ice or electricity, isn't that what the majority of action games provide? True, but Robot Rising gives it up on a scale not seen in Facebook games before.
Almost every weapon in Robot Rising--from rapid fire machine guns to laser blasters and rocket-propelled grenade launchers--feels unique, and secondary fire options like cluster bombs and sniper scopes only add to the options available. In other words, there are more than enough ways to lay the glorious beat down on enemy robots, and there's a method for almost every kind of player.
Unfortunately, one of the absolute best methods methods of robotic rampage is nowhere in sight: ripping robots apart with your friends. While we're told that more real-time and asynchronous social features are on the way, the game currently only supports minor social options like gifting and friendly visitations. But with similarly action-packed games on Facebook, Robot Rising is just screaming for deeper social play.
Robot Rising ultimately delivers on the promise that riveting games with intense graphical fidelity are possible on Facebook. This space-age RPG isn't a far cry from its inspirations, and bodes well for the future of Facebook as a destination for those seeking a more intense experience. Now, it's time to bring in the features that make social games what they are.
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