Real Steel was a very awesome movie.  I’m not one to see movies much, but the trailers caught my interest.  After watching it I fell in love, especially because I love boxing (the anime “Hajime no Ippo” helped tremendously).  I was hyped as soon as I found out there would be an XBLA game.

Getting in contact with Yukes, I knew I had to get this game for review for you guys.  I’m going to cover what this fighting game is all about, and see if it can deliver the experience from the movie right to the comfort of our own Xbox 360.

Hit the jump below to check out the full article on Real Steel for Xbox Live Arcade.

-[ A Little Back Story ]-
For those of you unfamiliar with the origins of this game, it is based off of the movie “Real Steel”.  A story which takes place in the near future where boxing has become obsolete because the welfare of your opponent is considered and humans are not allowed to give into their lust for destruction.  Taking the people out of the ring, they are replaced by robots which fight it out in boxing fashion in five 2 minute rounds for dominance.  In the movie, it is treated like an actual boxing match with introductions, and the mechanics acting as the “cut men”.
This arcade game puts you in the hand of someone who is trying to rise their robot up to the ranks of WRB Champion (World Robot Boxing).  This is where the game kicks off.

-[ Getting Started ]- 

Real Steel’s select menu screen.


Starting off the game, I do not really know what to expect.  Just hoping that Yukes has done a decent job with this game and that it is not just a cheesy way to capitalize off of the movies popularity.
Starts off loading up, “E 10+ , Fantasy Violence” that rating shows up along with Yukes’ logo, finally the start screen which looks just like the first image you see above.  I push the start button and I am ready to dive into this world of robot boxing.  The robot says “Real Steel” and I’m hype already.  Prompting me now to create a save file, I do so.
Afterwards it cuts to the arena, which looks just like the place where the main character of “Real Steel” takes the robot “Noisy Boy” for a fight after he first got him.  We then begin to see an explanation of why robots are fighting… at least that is what I thought.  They just say that times have changed, but the people have not and tell me I need to set up some robot so I can fight and make some money.  Sounds good.
Starting off, they give you a start of three types of robots: “Standard Type”, “Power Type”, and “Speed Type”.  I’m thinking about which type I want… “Atom” in the movie was probably a Standard or a Speed Type… “Zeus” was a “Power Type”, but “Ippo” my favorite character in the boxing anime “Hajime no Ippo” is built more like the Standard Type so that’s the one I go with.  Already my cash goes from 100,000 to 24,700 off of this single purchase of a robot.  Going off into Assembly Mode soon after, I guess I am at the screen where I am allowed to customize my robot.
-[ Customize Your Robot ]-

Already very hype, I cannot believe they allow you to customize your robot.  I already think I know how I ant him to look, but it is time to take a look at exactly what I can do before I begin to come up with ideas.

Looking at Assembly mode, you start with Head, Body, Arms, Fists, Legs, Core, and another option called Profile.  After selecting all of these it is clear that you cannot upgrade them or anything, all you can do at the moment is look at them.  With this I go over to Profile and am given the options to give my robot a ring name, I choose “Killatron”, naming him after my computer’s hard drive. Afterwards, I give him a Pre-Match action which is for him to “Shadow Box”, a Fighting Pose, his Tech Moves (A little about what this is in the Game Play section), Taunts, and finally I’m done. (Plus I earned 10G for saving a customized robot with the achievement “Robot Engineer”.  So far, so good.  I like the fact you have some multiple options, though, I wish that your pre-match action could be previewed like the Fighting Pose and Tech Moves(I chose Shadow Box because I know what it is from being a fan of boxing).

After finishing that up, I go back into the Assembly Shop and see I have the option to go to a “Shop” where I can now buy or sell parts.  Going into it, I see I can purchase Head, Body, Arms, Fists, Legs, Core, and Moves.  Looking through them, they are expensive to upgrade.  Initially, I wanted things but seems I had to reach a certain “Total Battle Rating” in order to unlock it and make it readily available.  I decide to keep all of my parts and my moves and save up until I reach the level where I can actually buy what I want and make my robot look pretty cool; I did not care for any of the options I could immediately buy as they were currently nothing more than the parts from the “Power” and “Speed” Type default robots I passed up initially.   At least I know I have got some cool customization options to look forward to after I begin to climb my way towards the WRB (World Robot Boxing) Championship belt.

Backing out I click on my name robot’s name “Killatron” in “Robot List” which is right above “Shop” that I just got through  browsing with all the parts I could buy, just to see if I had missed something.  I click on the option “customize” and see what we have going.  Click on any area of my robot, “Head, Arms, etc.” I soon find “Designer” the only option available at this time (Equip and Repair are unselectable), and it tells me his message.

“Currently, only the sample version of DESIGNER is available for you to use.

In order to be able to customize the design of your robots, you must purchase DESIGNER from the downloadable content menu.

If you haven’t purchased DESIGNER, you will not be able to apply designs to your robot.”

Immediately I’m thinking, “What the hell?!”.  I try out the sample design and they have patterns and colors you can choose from.  Things such as: Desert Camo, Snow Camo, Bolted Metal, etc.  I finally design on just regular red (They have multiple areas you can apply it to), and then it does not save.  Immediately I am thinking that this is a HUGE draw back already.  Heading back to the shop I go to “Downloadable Content” and see that it costs 240 Microsoft Points($3) to get it.  You should not have to pay for something as simple as color configuration in this game; that was a major, major let down.

Other Downloadable Content

Other downloadable content they sported was “Repair Kits” to help fix your robot, in game Cash, various parts and whole robots (which sold for 800 Microsoft Points or $10), and only had one free download for additional stages in single player mode.  Over all, I find that to be a bit ridiculous, but I hope that buying those robots are not necessary to having a good time and I sure hope the game can interest me enough to convince me to go and buy that Robot Designer to color my bot red.


-[ How to Play ]-

Real Steel is actually pretty viable when it comes to the control scheme.  You have the ability to sway, block, sidestep, do either left or right light or heavy punches, block high or low, attack high and low, and have “destruction” and “tech moves”.

Destruction moves are moves that destroy a piece of a robot that is badly damaged, either an arm or the head (The head results in a direct KO).  Tech moves are unblockable moves that have slow start up but deal great damage but leave you open if you are not careful with them.

Something that is also cool about the blocking is that you are essentially able “repel” an opponents attack by blocking at the exact time you are hit, basically allowing you to throw a worry free counter that will connect (Tech moves cannot be countered).  However, this makes an opponent think about mixing up his left/rights and highs/lows so he is not predictable and easily countered by someone with a keen eye and quick reflexes, I like it.

Not only do they actually talk about how to fight, they also begin to give you a rundown of the various mechanics and rules that go along with the “Real Steel’ game.  Such as what each of the part does, such as the Motherboard (Which effects many aspects of the robot like “Speed, Attack, and Defense”) or even the Robot Status’ (Such as Mobility and Punch Speed).  The game does a very good job of detailing exactly what everything is and what is effected by parts.  With this, it should fun to upgrade your robot and fine tune them according to what you think is the most important aspect of the robot.

Also, telling about how matches consist of five 2 minute rounds and that you can be KO’d by either being unable to get up and assume a fighting position by a 10 count, or when both arms are destroyed or the robot’s head is destroyed.  Pretty exciting rules are they not?  After reading all of this and getting myself primed, I head over to Single Player mode and see what I can make of myself.


Noisy Boy’s arm getting ripped off, just like in the movie!


-[ Game Play ]
Atom vs Metro, just like in the movie.
So now that I’m done with all of that, it is time for me to get ready for my first game.  I go to “Match Modes” on the main menu, go to the 1st stage of “UnderWorld” and here I in my first fight “Scrape Bot”.  I begin to punch and try out different combinations, landing a few hits and doing my best to weave with the Left Trigger and to block with the Right, but I am still getting the hang of it and soon become quickly overwhelmed.  I am knocked down and soon the referee begins o make the 10-count for me. I am not able to get up and wind up “KO’d” on my first down.  I do not like the mechanic that is used for when you are trying to recover; having to rapidly rotate the left stick and push every single button to get it back to full.  I do not like this mechanic and felt they could have did something more reliable.
After I lose they tell me about being repaired and everything, and saying that Repair kits would be better than spending cash (Which means they want me to use Microsoft Points to go and buy repair kits) which I thought was too money grubbing and would rather spend the in game funds to repair my robot.
After my robot is fully repaired I go back to in and review all the commands again, wanting to see where I messed up and maybe if remembering anything from my Fight Night Round 3 experience will help me out.  After two more tries I am victorious in the 1st Round, winning 4,000 in cash and moving up int he ladders.  They tell me I have new parts for my robots but I still do not have the ones unlocked that I want, so I proceed to go forward.  The fighting is fine but seems a bit clunky.  Also, because their body does not sway very good, it can be hard to predict what move is a low attack sometimes.

As I enter the second match somethings become very apparent about this game.  Power is something that rules a lot more than speed does, at least from what I am seeing now.  My opponent is going around in an airplane motion, hitting me even when I manage to sidestep.  Also, this particular opponent swings his arms like a windmill and walks towards you, adjusting towards your direction even when you see it coming and sidestep, making you continually have to move in order to avoid it, and you will still get hit even then.   The opponent after him is even worse.  It is very hard to move up, which is why I think they have those robots available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and why they have up to 100 Repair Kits you can buy with Microsoft Points and even Cash available for purchase.

The difficulty in this game, as well as the unfairness, makes it very hard to progress.  At this point and time, you should easily be able to get up to the first Boss (Metro) in Underworld and power up your guy, but you are going to more than likely fight the same few people over and over to earn enough money for upgrades to fight “Skar” who is Ranked #2 in Underworld and far surpasses anything you have at the time (That or buy some money).   This completely overshadows everything else and shows just how much depth this game has. There is no reason it should be this difficult from the get go and why you should be down this much money before you have even reached the WRB circuit.  You will continually have to fight the lower bots to increase your battle level, unlock new parts, as well as earn money in order to even stand a chance, and that type of grinding should not be in a Fighting Game.

Online Multiplayer
I decided to take my robot online “as is” to see how he would do, so I went into Ranked Match and seen what would present itself.  Well, what I came across was not very pretty in the least.

My character had a battle level of around 500, and someone who came in with a bot known as “Reptile” had a battle level over 9,000 (Seriously).  It was so bad that he could stand there and taunt and no matter how much I hit he was not phased, while he hit me and all of a sudden I fly back, K.O.’ing me in the second round with a measly two punches (Destroying the head of my robot).  I really thought this was also a pile of crap because I should be able to do at least some type of damage to him, but he could stand there and even take my unblockable tech moves and only go back a few inches and not even be stunned too long.  Reminded me of when I went into the match with “Skar” for the first time in Single Player mode.

After the match was over I decided to send him a message, seemed he bought all the parts and only customized the robot through the color selecting options.  It was pretty terrible that you could get a robot through paying money that is the equivalent to all your hard work if you were to go through the game and grind, or even better than that in all actuality.  This completely ruins the experience online and tips the scale in favor of those who spend money actual money; making the price tag to make this game enjoyable more than the 800 Microsoft Points ($10) you spend on it; just being able to customize your robot’s color tacks on an addition $3 from the start.

-[ The Verdict ]-

Real Steel was an excellent movie on a concept that was a bit far-fetched but actually managed to deliver nicely.  A game based on it with robot boxing could very well work.  It seemed they had very good potential and setup the game in a way that it could achieve its effect, but at the cost of too many things in order to try and gain money, or least it appears to me; does not even start off with a basic function of being able to let you do something as simple as choose the color of your robot.

Grinding for money is not fun and fights can be frustrating.  I think this game had potential but was executed poorly in the end.  My advice for anyone would be to avoid this game, seeing as it is a hybrid of boxing from Fight Night along with the robot building mechanics of Armored Core, but lack luster in each category.

Unless you have either a ton of patience and are willing to grind, or enough extra money to visit the DLC Marketplace, this is not the game for you.