Game Reviews

Real Steel Champions

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Real Steel Champions

The movie Real Steel passed me by, but from what I gather it's basically Transformers meets Rocky.

Or to put it another way, the underdog lead character finds a robot which he then trains and improves until they overcomes all odds and win the day.

There was a game about it by Reliance Games and it made an obscene amount of money.

Now Reliance is back with a new title - Real Steel Champions - and it's my job to see if it's any good or not.

Luckily I've got an entire week to spend on it, reporting back to you every couple of days with my findings so far.

First impressions

Real Steel Champions is more of a fighting game than I initially thought it would be.

Mobile gamers are used to ports of actual fighting games being nothing more than slightly more sophisticated card battlers (see Injustice: Gods Among Us, Tekken Card Tournament, and SoulCalibur Unbreakable Soul), but this is a bit closer to a traditional scrapper.

It has buttons and directions that you have to press and everything.

A block, a light attack, a heavy attack, and a context sensitive special attack, help you to smack about (and decapitate) your robotic opponents.

Combining an attack with a direction does change the type and animation of the attack you do, but it doesn't seem to have much of an impact on how much damage is done.

That's mostly predicated on whether your opponent is defending themselves. You can't really dodge though, from what I've seen.

I'm currently learning the ropes and working through the storyline. I'm also unlocking other modes, upgrading my bot, and unfortunately running up against the energy system a fair bit too.

But apart from this last point, I'm enjoying myself thus far.

Day 3: A pertinent question

By day 3 of this review I've got one very important question to answer - how much of a fighting game is Real Steel Champions?

Yes, all you do is scrap with other robots, but it's clear that this isn't the same as a Street Fighter, or a King of Fighters, or a Virtua Fighter, or another brawler that doesn't have "fighter" in its title.

It's all down to Real Steel Champions having stats to worry about. I mentioned earlier that I've been upgrading my bot (which takes real world time to do, unless you pay to skip the wait), and the reason I've done so is to improve how much damage it can take, how much it can give out, and some third thing I'm not 100% clear on yet.

Whenever you change the stat balance of a character in a fighting game, you're tipping the odds in favour of one of the two opponents in the ring, and doing so too much almost guarantees that one player cannot prevail against another.

In the case of Real Steel Champions, you'll often run up against opponents that are simply more powerful than you are, creating artificial roadblocks where in a traditional fighting game you'd simply be required to improve your skills.

To even things out you have to upgrade, either with cash you earn through regular play, or real money you have in your bank account that you spend on IAPs.

I haven't had to splash any cash of my own moolah on anything so far, as I can grind for soft-currency, but it reinforces that unlike a console fighting game, your "ability" is based on how long you've played, or how much you've spent on it.

The new modes I've unlocked allow me to take on time attack missions, special challenges with specific gameplay tweaks that mix things up, and a practice area to keep my robot in top fighting fitness - all of which add to your funds.

Day 7: Having the metal

After a week, I find myself thinking of Real Steel Champions as a fighting game in the same way I think of CSR Racing as a driving game.

Sure it has fighting in it, but it's not really all that deep (I still haven't come close to pulling a combo), it's not that smart (no attacks affect the mechanical capabilities of your opponent), and it's not that satisfying (might will always make right).

But that's kind of okay, because if you go into the game knowing this, and are expecting the meted out progression, wait timers, and grind of something like a CSR, then Real Steel Champions is enjoyable.

Attacks look and sound like they connect with opponents with force, the UI is easy to navigate (if a tad sluggish), and there are all sorts of customisation options to add your stamp to the universe.

Swapping parts for aesthetic or functional purposes, and then ensuring they're all coloured up the way you want them makes it feel as if your robot is your own. You can even add your own recorded audio taunt to the ring entrance, which is a small addition that adds a lot of ownership.

And that's the other big comparison with CSR - Real Steel Champions is about fulfilling the dream of owning a cool thing you could never hope to own in real life. Then you get to make thing thing better.

So if that's what you're after, Real Steel Champions is undoubtedly worth further investigation. If you're after the next One Must Fall, you'll be disappointed.

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Real Steel Champions

Expecting a traditional fighting game? You're better served elsewhere. After the brawler equivalent of CSR? Look no further