On the Right Track, In The Wrong Race
By Edwin Velez
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on August 26th, 2016 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC
Developer: Space Dust Studios Publisher: Deck13 Interactive
Battle racers have long been a favorite genre of mine. Many titles have drawn clear inspirations from classics like Mario Kart and Twisted Metal, some successful and others not so much. Obliteracers takes these inspirations and breeds a very original concept, one that crams up to 16 racers on one screen and pits them head to head. Does it work though? Yes, it does, but oddly enough is more fun in the single player mode as opposed to the multiplayer modes where it should have and could have shined. Had they tweaked the gameplay a bit, it really could have been something truly special, but regardless of that it is still a great and original project. It’s charming, vibrant, and fun once you get a handle on the gameplay. Packed with character and action, Obliteracers speeds on to the scene to steal your attention.
Obliteracers pits drivers against each other on a variety of tracks, with the goal (usually) being to explode each other. With four base modes, players will quickly learn that they need to kill and not be killed to rack up points the quickest. I found my time with the single player career mode to be quite fun. There is a simplicity to it that rings a subtle call back to how it felt to play games when you were younger. What I mean by that is that the title is straight forward and not overly complex for the sake of being complex, it’s just fun as it should be. The racing takes some getting used to, as it is loose like controlling a hovercraft would be. Each mode takes place on one singular screen, so whether you are playing with one friend or 15, you will all be looking on one screen. You will quickly realize that the game is more obliteration than racing, as a true dedicated racing option does not exist. It is a bummer that there is not an actual racing mode, because I think it would have complimented the title immensely. Though the base modes are fun, sharing a screen constantly can get rather congested, and an actual racing mode would have been great to change the pace.
The game does a lot right. The level design is great, and fits well with the visual themes. It’s quirky, colorful, and cell-shaded just right. The music pops, and is instantly catchy the moment you boot up the game. On the racing side of things, there is only a handful of weapons but it’s honestly the perfect amount. The best aesthetic to Obliteracers is the ability to mod races. There is all kinds of optional settings you can tweak to make customized races. From tweaking weapon power, adjusting gravity, to many other options, this makes races feel a lot more unique. In addition to the large amount of mods, there is a huge cast of characters. Sadly, you can only pick your character in multiplayer. In what I believe is a baffling move, single player only lets you be the character “Sarge”, even though there is no pre-destined story that specifically relates to them. I cannot think of any reason why you should not be able to choose who you want to be. In retrospect, there is much more positive here as a whole than anything, it is just missing some key aspects that would have made it a great racer than rather just a good one.
Though having the option of playing with 16 combatants may seem great, it’s not always the best way to play. In some sprints, specifically in Endurance mode where you are constantly respawning and racking up kills, it can be rather fun. Most of the time, a smaller race of 8-10 is ideal to play with a certain finesse. Beyond that, the gameplay is more erratic and less skillful in a sense. I truly wish I enjoyed playing with actual people more, but at the end of the day I just don’t. For some reason, it just does not translate. Once again though, single player is great. Aside from lacking a character select, the amount of races and their variety is great. Obliteracers is a fun time that overcomes its shortcomings to be a mostly good title. I appreciate the themes and style of the title as a whole, and it just gives off a fun vibe. But in PvP multiplayer where the game seemingly would have shined, it’s a bit dull. Regardless of that, I found Obliteracers to be a fun ride. I would love to see it become a series, one that puts the “racers” in Obliteracers as it should be, but in the meantime this title is still worth a trip around the track.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review
Final Score: 7/10
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