Real Steel was developed and published by Yuke’s Co., Ltd. It was released on December 14, 2011 for 800 MSP. A code was provided for review purposes.

Like its big-screen brother, one would have a fair amount of skepticism going into the game adaptation of Real Steel. However, unlike the film you will most likely find frustration rather than dumb fun. That’s a shame, really. There actually is ample potential within Real Steel, but issues that seem small at first end up ruining everything in the long run.

Here’s what we liked:

Solid building blocks – The most exciting aspect of the game isn’t the act of destroying humanoid robots for the pleasure of the ever-excited digital crowd. No, the real fun lies in the surprisingly deep customization of metallic warriors. As your robot fights, win or lose, experience is gained leveling up 5 skills (offense, speed, guard, performance, and destruction). How you fight will determine which skill increases and in turn will unlock new gear or attacks to purchase for further customization. These hooks land deep, offering hope that things may not be as bad as you thought going in.

Finely tuned visuals – While not the most visually stunning fighter on the platform, Real Steel uses the tools it has at its disposal well. All of the robot models and parts look neat and distinct, and at a glance, one can determine how the enemy might fight. The style is borrowed directly from the movie, giving it an authentic tie-in feel. Even better, the engine runs at a fast and smooth frame-rate.

The sweet scienceReal Steel, for all intents and purposes, is based on futuristic Rock’em Sock’em Robots boxing in the place of flesh-and-blood people. Keeping that idea in mind, developer Yukes decided once again to side with depth in their design, producing a game that is more akin to Fight Night, than the timeless head-popper. The fighting mechanics are once again surprisingly not shallow with dodge, block, and sway mechanics along with a bevy of jabs, uppercuts, hooks, and haymakers. Landing blows on the opposition can be impactful and satisfying. Though, watching a combatant drop to the mat like a pile of scrap is fun until it happens to you.

Here’s what we didn’t like: (Seriously, this took away most of the fun from the game.)

I get knocked down – The first of two reasons the game lost us so severely is supposed to be the most triumphant part of a bout. Once downed in a boxing game, the tradition is to perform a quick time event or overlap two circles with the analog sticks to retrieve your lost footing. Real Steel has a similar mechanic as well, but rather than focusing on one important task, you now have four. To struggle back to your feel (and we do mean struggle), the left stick must be rotated several times to fill a meter. Once the meter has some “energy” stored, it must be deposited into one of a set of four rapidly discharging meters corresponding to the controller’s face buttons. By the time this chore is completed on all four meters, you’ll be lucky to be back on your feet. If by chance the first go is successful, the second won’t be. It is near impossible to get back up from two knockdowns, so close to impossible, in fact, that the computer can not do it either. It becomes a fluke to see subsequent rounds.

No money, no paint – Customization, as stated before, is one of the best parts about the game. It’s incredibly fun to outfit new arms, legs, fists, heads, chassis, fluids, motherboards, and other pieces. You want to make your bot stand out, and the customization goes even further! Colors and patterns can be changed for each individual part to look as unique and cool as the robots in the film. If you buy the designer DLC. The game allows you to view how awesome colors and patterns could look on your machine, but will not let you apply the coat of paint because you have to spend more money for something that is included in the game. Until cash is forked over, your alloyed gladiator will have a dull, stock-color finish.

Real Steel did have a lot of things going for it. The customization carrot dangled right there on the stick, and a competent brawling system helped to get you closer to that sweet reward. It’s too bad something as minor as recovering from a knockdown and adding a much-needed unique flair to a robot were handled beyond poorly and dragged down everything attached to it.

Score: Skip It!