Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Obliteracers (PS4) Review

Continuing the review output for the month of August is Obliteracers, a fresh take on a familiar formula. How does she handle? Let's find out with this SuperPhillip Central review.

Opponents obliterating each other as well as my overall fun.

In a genre so full of me-toos and derivative games, it's nice to see Varkian Empire's Obliteracers try something new with their action racing. That said, Obliteracers is sort of a misnomer for the name of the game. The central mechanic of Obliteracers is all about destroying the other cars while driving along one of a handful of twisty tracks such as a sky high mining metropolis, a minefield in a desert, and a tropical coast. There are no laps, there are no finish lines, and there really isn't a reason to be in first place except for one mode.

The weapons offered by Obliteracers run your standard gamut of explosive goodness-- machine guns, rockets, mines, shockwaves, a trail of slippery oil to let loose behind your vehicle, and even a series of flames that burn from the sides of your ride. All of these are used to blow up, annihilate, and destroy the other opponents who dare share the same track as you.

This weapon launches three pink missiles at opponents unfortunate enough to be in your path.
What also makes Obliteracers stand out other than being all about destruction rather than pure racing is that the game has a fixed camera that is centered on the leader of the pack of cars. Thus, every player is shown on the screen at the same time, and if you don't keep up and go off screen, you car gets obliterated. While this is generally fine with just four vehicles on screen at the same time, it is especially and painfully clear in events with eight or more vehicles that this doesn't work so well. Like, at all.

You see, there is very little real estate on the screen for eight or more racers, In these more crowded races, the area upon which you're considered too far behind, thus being knocked out is larger. In addition to that, most of the time if you're leading the pack, the camera angle forces you to make blind turns or worse, blind jumps, usually leading to you falling off the track.

Things can get quite crowded with eight opponents at once.
The main campaign of Obliteracers features several dozen events focusing around four types. Survival has you trying to outlive the other vehicles on the track. Doing so gives you a point. Earn a set amount of points before your opponents to win. Knockout and Endurance are similar. Knockout earns you points for defeating opponents, though if your car is destroyed, you have to wait until the next round to come back. Meanwhile, Endurance forgoes rounds, having you instantly return to the action if you are destroyed. Finally, Leader mode gives points for any kill to the player in first place. Doing well in these campaign events earns you bombs. The more you collect, the more events you unlock.

In the initial few races I felt in control of my own destiny. To put it in less dramatic terms, when I won, I felt like I earned it. When I lost, it was because I screwed up. Later events with eight or more racers are basically crap shoots. In a game of Survival, it never seemed prudent to take the lead, as you'd just have a bunch of weapon-toting opponents on your tail, ready to fire at you. Being in the back was safer, but it still wasn't a safe bet. It seemed like I would win a round randomly when things finally fell correctly into place out of pure happenstance.

And things just become too chaotic with 12 opponents on screen at once.
Then there's this event-- a 12 racer Endurance event that totally made me just flabbergasted at how it passed testing and QA. As stated earlier, an event with eight or more opponents makes for a crowded screen. 12 opponents that can constantly re-spawn into the race? Even worse. If you get destroyed, your car is but one of 12 that zooms into the picture, making it very difficult to even see when you drive back into view. And not only does the camera not actually follow the leader but instead the middle of the pack (leading you to have to negotiate a turn at a weird angle due to this, oftentimes resulting in you falling off the track or going off course), but as cars bump into and jostle one another, getting off course is commonplace. This race usually had up to 10 cars fall off at one turn. Additionally, you can forget about picking up weapons or being able to feel like you have any control in this race. It's pure rage-inducing, and it's amazing that the developers felt that the game could work with so many racers on screen at one time. It can't.

So, as a solo game, Obliteracers isn't too compelling. In fact, it can be darn frustrating, and maddeningly so. However, with friends, Obliteracers is a rip-roaring good time. Being able to share the same screen and enjoy some local multiplayer fun is indeed entertaining. Online is also available, but it's pretty hard to find and join a game. Thus, Obliteracers is almost forced to be a local multiplayer-only game due to the lack of players online.

Thus, Obliteracers is a tough sell overall. The main campaign struggles to hold one's attention for long with its pithy amount of event types, almost entirely luck-based and borderline broken events in later offerings, and short longevity. The online servers also don't have too many players either. However, if you have friends locally to play with, then Obliteracers can give you a few game nights of wacky entertainment. Just don't take the gameplay as anything but severely flawed fun.

[SPC Says: D+]

Review copy provided by Deck 13 Games.

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