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Platform: PC

McDROID Review

A breath of fresh, strawberry-scented air

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Did you pick out the words 'current state' from that last sentence? You ought to have, because they lead us neatly into McDROID's unlock system, which makes me want to sandwich my head in a desk drawer. New towers, pieces of equipment and special weapons all get unlocked after a specific amount of progression through the story, which is a fine idea on its own, but if you want to upgrade a tower during a battle – and you will, because tier-one towers are barely capable of giving later enemies more than a minor case of eczema – you'll first need to research the upgrade in the hub world with diamonds, the secondary resource that gets retained between battles. Even then, such a mechanic would be bearable – if a little unnecessary, I think – if diamonds weren't more scarce than dry armpits in the PAX exhibition hall and the cost of researching upgrades wasn't so damn exorbitant. A battle might net you anywhere between ten and fifty diamonds, but research costs stretch into the hundreds and even thousands, so do the maths. Every time you come up against an insurmountable stage it's time to hunch over that grindstone, go back through the old levels, and refuse to stop until the flesh has been flayed from your bones. Or you have enough diamonds, I suppose. And worst of all, special weapons also consume diamonds whenever you deploy them, so not only are you being forced to re-play old levels, but every time you reach for the land-mines or the missile drones in order to hasten your victory and spare your patience, you're saddled with the knowledge that you've just set yourself back, possibly losing even more than the spoils of war will actually grant you.


McDROID is thankfully somewhat self-aware here, as it comes with a rather decent array of side activities to dull the pain of grinding for your next tower upgrade. As well as there being three slightly gimmicky 'endless mode' stages, each stage in the campaign has corresponding 'challenge' and 'nightmare' mode stages, which ratchet up the difficulty another few agonising notches, but do at least carry the tantalising promise of more diamonds. Unfortunately McDROID is a bit fussy about its continuity, so each additional difficulty tier starts in exactly the state that the preceding tier ended. That is to say, if you finished stage three with a busted laser turret, a wilted chrysanthemum and a bag of pebbles, then the corresponding challenge stage will pitch you right into the action with exactly that set-up (then consequentially rip your servos off, you presumptuous robotic canine). So if you actually want to stand a chance at a challenge stage, you first have to perfectly play through the normal stage just to set the scene, then hope you're up to the task of the real thing. If you want to have a bash at the nightmare stage then you have to play through both preceding tiers perfectly, just for the privilege of being torn to shreds. It's all so bloody redundant.

It also bears mentioning that the game's polish is in extreme disarray. McDROID is like a big scrappy dog; half-missing one ear, prone to drooling over the upholstery and a bit of a mongrel when all's said and done, but no less boisterously enthusiastic when somebody throws a stick. Everywhere you look are signs of cut corners and patch jobs, and yet it still judders happily along. You'd think a game based around being swarmed by hordes of enemies would be good at rendering hordes of enemies, but the framerate chugs horrendously at the kind of opposing force that could quite comfortably fit inside a panel van together. Given the aforementioned difficulty that might be a cause for panic, but don't abandon hope: there's always a chance that you'll be able to cheese the last wave by inexplicably gaining their undivided attention and luring them around the arena for the next five minutes while your missile towers slowly wear them down. I could also swear that certain tooltips in the research hub are not narrated by the usual voice, as expected, but by Microsoft Sam. And what about being able to simply walk out of the playable area and take a look at the gaping void where the terrain abruptly ends? I don't even want to deduct points for something that hilarious. That's like a 'baby's first Counter-Strike map' mistake.


So that's McDROID for you: a bright spark of creativity, stressful tower defence and weird commentary, wrapped up in a package that's genuinely kind of adorable without trying too hard. It's not a great game by any stretch of the word, but it has the potential to inject a modicum of joy into your life for a few hours, and for that alone I believe it deserves a fair go. So, take a look for yourself and offer McDROID a moment of your attention, if only to make a personal judgement. Me? I need to go place an order: one pedestal, one glass case, one custom engraved brass plate. This one's going to be a centrepiece.

Our ratings for McDROID on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Boasts an aesthetic that manages to be cute without being saccharine. Numerous visual glitches abound, though, and while the voice actor for the shuttle is agreeable, the voice of the sentient planet makes me want to dig out my ears with a corkscrew.
A frantic challenging tower defence game with a unique third-person perspective and a difficulty curve that eventually just turns into a concrete wall. Gets progressively more repetitive as the focus shifts to re-playing old levels over and over.
Single Player
Attains an original, somewhat surreal premise while carefully skirting the borders of being a collection of non-sequiturs strung together. The plot might be simple and straightforward, but there's enough creativity in each level to draw you through it.
Bare-bones co-op with a few simple features. Good luck finding somebody to play it with.
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: Intel i7-870 @ 2.93 GHz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
OS: Windows 7 Premium 64-bit
PC Specs

Broken, but in a harmless 'climbing into the skybox' sort of way that doesn't really affect the gameplay. Serious framerate issues abound, though.
Creative and charming, McDROID is an endearing little adventure with some hefty core gameplay chops that very nearly carry the game all on their own. Sadly, it nevertheless gets dragged down by an over-aggressive difficulty curve, a heavy reliance on repeating content, and some major lapses in polish.
McDROID box art Platform:
Our Review of McDROID
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
McDROID is ranked #1164 out of 1732 total reviewed games. It is ranked #96 out of 152 games reviewed in 2014.
1163. Journal
1164. McDROID

8 images added Sep 21, 2014 15:19
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