Real Steel for iOS Brings Robotic Combat to the iPad

Real Steel, a story set in the near-distant future where humanoid robots do battle in a giant ring, is arriving at US theaters in October. That doesn’t mean you have to wait until October to experience these 2,000 pound robots doing battle in various arenas. Real Steel for iOS features eight unique playable robots — each with their own unique blend of moves and abilities — which you can use to fight your way through the ranks and defeat Midas.

Real Steel is a very well-made app. The graphics quality on the iPad version is superb with very little visual pixelation. Each robot is fitting with high-quality textures and a complex 3D model. Background characters and fans are 2D sprites, but this is a small price to pay on a mobile game.

The music included on Real Steel is upbeat and catchy. Personally, I’d prefer the ability to substitute in-game music with tunes from your library, but the only way to do this is by muting the music in the application and playing it on your iPod separately.

Real Steel is a fighter. You stand toe-to-toe with your opponent and duke it out with a series of simple combos available across four directional, left and right attack, block, and special attack buttons. By combining certain directional and attack options, you can have your robot do quite a number on your opponent very quickly. Just like any typical fighting game, you can deal a deadly finisher. Real Steel finishers generally involve ripping limbs off your opponent. After all, Real Steel is a fight to the death.

One immediate downside I found when playing is that commands appear to be delayed. Single jabs come very quickly, but because so many combinations require quick key presses, the animations take time to catch up. It took me more than a few losses on easy mode before I began to adjust to the slower response time during gameplay. Once timing was down, things immediately became a lot easier.

Because there’s no tactile feedback, any iOS fighting game with a delay in response falls short of other popular gaming platforms. In this case, I’d say it could be an obstacle that is difficult for casual players to overcome.

There are two meters you need to keep a close eye on while playing Real Steel. The first is your health bar, which acts the same as any other fighter does. When the meter depletes, your bot is defeated. The next bar indicates your energy levels. During downtime between swings, your energy level rebuilds. If you spam moves on a near-constant basis, this meter will quickly deplete, which results in you being less capable of fighting and/or defending yourself. In order to pull off the best combinations and special moves, you need to make sure there’s plenty of energy available on this bar.

Real Steel is somewhat limited in terms of customizability and options. You can invert the screen to position it to your liking using the menu, but there isn’t much else you can do. Controls are set in their positions, and commands are set in stone. You can adjust the volumes of the music and sound effects separately, however.

When you start Real Steel, you have access to four bots: BlueBot, Ambush, Blacktop, and AquaBot. You can unlock four additional robots by advancing through tournament play and ultimately defeating Midas. The initial four bots are strong enough to take you through the tournament.

Over all, Real Steel is a fairy good game that recreates the fun of playing Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots as a child on a digital scale. The upcoming movie with Hugh Jackman is sure to give the audience a much more intense experience with better graphics and value for the price of admission. At US$4.99, Real Steel isn’t much of a steal — but it can be pretty fun.

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