Welcome to Obliteracers! A game that attempts to bring back the charm of couch co-operative competition via racing theme. Developers Space Dust Studio / Varkian Empire have sought to create a similar aura for the current generation of young gamers as the older ones had with the releases of games such as Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing in the late 90s. Not to say this game is meant exclusively for kids; it can appeal to all age groups. The game is set to release on the Xbox Marketplace at a later date, but you can buy it now on PlayStation Network for $13.99 or Steam for $14.99.
The game is more vehicle combat than any kind of racing. In fact, there’re no true racing aspects at all to be found here. No player can reach out of sight (or contact) from the rest of the pack, and dually, no player can fall behind without being knocked out and brought back up to speed. There is no incentive to “race” other than to be in the lead of the pack so that you can get first grab at pick-up items and maybe push the camera forward, leading to someone following too far behind and being destroyed. The camera follows the whole group of players as they jockey for pick-up items on the map and battle it out in bumper car fashion in order to knock one another off the track.
At the beginning of the race, you can wiggle the left analog stick side-to-side for the purpose of finding where your racer is located. Each player has a colored circle above them with a number inside, but the screen can be overcrowded as the number of total racers grows closer to the 16 person max, so the flashing white light at the beginning is extremely appreciated.
The pickups you’ll find throughout the maps are either weapon or shield based. As you approach the floating boxes, you'll see what is inside as they will have color codes and a small picture of the item sticking out of the top. If you don't like what you have, you are able to drop it. Dropping an item of any kind does not make it available for anyone else to pick up. Weapons include machine gun turrets, missile launchers, and fire shooting out of the sides of the car, to name some of the few.
The overall gameplay and control you have of your racer will feel very smooth, but the extreme fluidity of the turning can mean you slide too far from what you wanted. This can either be seen as a negative to the game or that it enhances it by making everything seem even more chaotic. The drifting mechanics are helpful but dually can mean you end up braking too much to stay in the view of the camera, meaning a knockout or death of your racer. Its bumper car opportunities at times feel extremely risky since you can easily take out yourself alongside a targeted opponent, or worse, you miss completely and fly off the track.
There are not many controls you'll need to remember for this game. In typical video game driving fashion, you steer with the left analog stick, accelerate with the right trigger, and brake/reverse with the left trigger. On the PlayStation, the square button will be the fire button for weapons, the triangle button will be for dropping items and using the shield, and the "X" button is used to jump and drift. Jumping occurs when driving straight, and the drifting will occur when you're in the middle of a turn, allowing somewhat of an organization to the action button.
Maps and Game Modes
The tracks and the obstacles you’ll come across throughout them are for decoration, hazards, and to heighten the chaos going on. You’ll battle it out in 13 different locations such as "Clawtopia," where you feel the intensely tropical design fill your screen with a bright and sunny environment, or "NuVark" where you race throughout a city located high in the sky, providing an added dimension with chaotic traffic. Each of the locations is unique and comes with their own added touches. Although the maps are for the most part pretty small (some even smaller than others), the lack of true racing makes it less noticeable.
One of the customizable features that the game adds is through its modification options. There are dozens of options to disable/enable or adjust. The possible chaos you can set up almost feels endless. I won't list every single mod, but to name a few: "Pinball" for extra bumper mayhem, "Ice Skating" for extra slippery tracks, "Explosive Shields" for self-destruction upon holding shield up too long, "Ramburglar" to steal other racer's weapons by ramming into them, "Speed" controls 3 different speed of overall gameplay, "Double Damage" to deal twice as much weapon damage. The modifier table can be found below.
There are 4 different game modes to play. The first is called "Endurance," and as evident with its name, is meant to last longer than the others. You'll score points by destroying other players, but upon their death, they are instantly respawned and caught up with the pack. The second is called "Knockout" (this is my personal favorite game type when playing with max players). You'll score points by destroying players, and once a player is destroyed, they will not respawn until the next match. The winner will be whoever destroyed the most amount of people.
The third game type is "Survival" where the objective is to simply survive the longest. You score a point for every round you survive, similar to "Knockout" but with a different way to score. The fourth and final game type is called "Leader." This game is set up to pit everyone against a sole racer; the one racer who leads the pack. To score points you must be in the front, enabling you to steal all points scored via deaths. All 4 game types offer a special spin on gameplay, offering a little bit longer of the "lasting value" idea.
PC Version Added Feature
As my experience playing the game came from using my Playstation 4, I have not been able to explore the innovative feature added for local play on the PC version. The developers, having prior tech experiences on smartphones, have added the ability to squeeze all 16 of the possible players on a single screen at once, by using laptops, gamepads, and smartphones/tablets as extra controllers. I can't even imagine having 16 people crammed in a living room to blow each other up in an animated vehicle combat game while all sharing the same screen, but it sure sounds like a crazy time. Maybe this will be something brought available to console gamers in the near future.
The gameplay was very smooth and maybe feels smoother than it should be at times if that’s even possible. It is a nicely polished final result of a game project. The only drawback is the lack of true variety. In comparison, Mario Kart 64 had half the maps and a quarter of the players possible in a single game, but it offered real go-kart style racing with a devilish twist of attacks that sabotaged other racers. Obliteracers, while carries its own unique identity and should be judged for what it has accomplished, is hard not to compare to its genre predecessors; and I think this will result in appealing mostly to the current generation of kids who lack the comparable gaming experiences.
The game is fun for a while when playing the single player career mode but more enjoyable to set modifications and game settings before jumping into a chaotic game mode of your choice. But single player options end there. Playing with friends greatly increases the enjoyment that can be found while playing this game, and the online play was smooth enough to find quality enjoyment there as well. Its smooth, bright, and vibrant characters and maps make it easy to have a relaxed approach to the competitive aspects it provides. Although the characters are less than impressionable, the game itself is light-hearted in nature and offers a good action packed evening with friends or family.
|+ Fun couch co-op competitions||– No connection to the characters|
|+ Bright and Vibrant characters and maps||– No real racing aspects|
|+ Very Polished gameplay|
|+ Completely customizable games|