Real Steel’s Deceptive Demo Appearance

Real Steel, the movie tie-in from generally respectable developer Yukes (WWF No Mercy) hit XBLA and PSN this week with a surprising demo. What this post should be is a celebration of a developer pulling off the unthinkable, especially after the previous quick-to-release downloadable mess was Battle L.A.

Sadly, Real Steel can’t be the surprise it should, mostly because Real Steel comes with a demo that isn’t representative of the final product. See, the preview is a one shot exhibition brawl, showcasing some fun, Fight Night inspired metal clashing. It’s so soundly put together, that the brawling mixed with the promise of customization makes this one an insta-buy.

But, lying in wait for purchasers of this $10 bomb is DLC. No, not DLC that can be clearly seen within the Xbox Live Marketplace. This is all self contained, stuff like the ability to to change the color of your robot ($4), buy completed robots ($10 each), repair kits to bring your fighter up to speed after a tough battle ($1) or snag some expensive parts ($1).

It’s easy to write it off as a fluke, because, at least in the case of the parts, everything can be unlocked, right? True, but Real Steel is designed with one purpose: progression through cash, much like a free-to-play MMO, only one with a $10 entry fee.

For example, your robot is assigned an overall combat rating. Entering into the opening battle, the first foe hovers around the 800 mark, the personal created ‘bot about 600-650. The next level in the rankings is nearing 1200. After two hours of play and purchasing at least a dozen parts with in-game cash from about 15 wins, my robo buddy was only at 834, still miles away from being in fair competition. And yes, those 15 wins all came against the Glass Joe of Real Steel.

You can almost knock out those higher ranks, being the underdog part of the movie and the game, but two or even three quick jolts from the opposing side and you’re down for a 10 count. It’s sort of amazing they didn’t charge a buck to get off the mat, because they’ll sure charge for a chance to take more punches.