Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Can’t Live Up to the Wacky Title

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars is one of those games that wants you to take all your highbrow notions about depth and games-as-art and trade them in for one thing: fun. To many gamers this is a good proposition. Sometimes we just need games that are flat-out silly in design and you “get” the concept after spending five minutes with the game.

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars screenshot

If Battle-Cars delivered in this respect ,than it would be a fine downloadable title. However, what holds it back from ever climbing above average is that it never really excels. By slapping together two genres – soccer and arena-based combat – the developers made a compromise where neither gets properly fleshed out. The sport component feels rudimentary and there are a plethora of missed opportunities in the combat department. When you pair these shortcomings with the $14.99 price tag, you’ve got a title whose fun surface quickly erodes, leaving you with a underwhelming experience.

The easiest way to describe Battle-Cars is to think of a soccer game played with Twisted Metal vehicles. Every tournament match has two goals and a ball is placed in the middle. Using your micro-charged car, you slam into the ball, trying to score in your opponent’s goal. The base level of strategy comes from learning how to properly maneuver your Battle-Car across the arena.

Aside from standard driving controls – such as accelerate, brake, and handbrake – you can pull off a lot of tricks. Not only can your Battle-Car jump, but hitting the jump button again will result in a double jump – useful for hitting a high bouncing ball or dodging opponents. You can also flip your car forward and each flip will reward you with more momentum, allowing you to slingshot across the map. Boosting is dependent on your stock of boost fuel, which you pick up either via capsules or boost pads that are spread across the arena. A standard boost will fire up your rockets; if you pair a boost with a jump, you can literally rocket across the arena in a matter of seconds. Build up enough speed and your car goes supersonic, leaving a trail of blue sparks and giving you the ability to obliterate other cars with a single hit.

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars screenshot

The boost pad system and obliteration idea illustrate some of the missed opportunities for the game. The fact that your boost meter can get depleted and you have to continually hit pads is a neat idea – by limiting your supply, it forces you to think more carefully – but what about pads for other things? Here’s a game that has “Battle-Cars” in the title and there is no form of weaponry for your vehicle. It seems like such an obvious idea to include weapon pads for things like rockets and bombs, yet the developers completely missed out. Obliteration is supposed to be a substitute, but it has no real weight. When you destroy another car it immediately re-spawns – this leaves you with no sense of reward and does little to panic your opponent.

What about the soccer aspect of the game? While you can pull of precision turns and some spectacular tricks with your Battle-Car, trying to get the ball in the goal is actually one of the harder aspects of the game. Since there are in-game physics at play, you have to take into account the height of the ball – in case it’s bouncing – and the force you apply. Often, you may completely miss a jump-hit or slam the ball too hard, sending it over the goal. Even when you have a shot in what seems to be a direct line for the goal, it may miss. This is because you car acts like a pool cue, so the exact angle you hit the ball greatly affects whether it lands in the goal.

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars screenshot

To help you cope with this kind of haphazard shooting mechanism, there is a camera toggle that tracks the ball, so you can more easily line up your shots. However, this camera will often get stuck in the side of walls or underneath the floor, turning your once-optimal vantage point into a focal hodgepodge. It’s really unfortunate that a lot of your shots come down to luck more than finesse.

Single-player is split up into tournament mode and a collection of mini-games. Tournament play is actually less satisfying because its it is essentially a series of matches that pits you against some bots, always competing for a high score. The mini-game mode beats it out purely because of its variety. Split into five tiers, with four games per a tier, there are a lot of gameplay variations that easily put the soccer-only play to shame. Games like Sweeper, which puts you in the role of a goal keeper defending against a series of cannons and Combustible, a demolition derby mode that requires you to destroy a certain number of opponents, are more fun than just playing through a series of matches.

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars screenshot

Your reward for beating each tier of mini-games is a new car. This would seem like a good incentive to keep you going, but it’s lackluster. New cars don’t have different statistics. All you get is a slightly different form factor – whether it’s more of a monster truck body or a VW Beetle shell – and a new paint job. Had the developers given each Battle-Car different attributes, like better handling or greater acceleration, then this would actually feel like a bonus, but as it stands, it feels like a wasted opportunity.

For such a small downloadable title, Battle-Cars does have some impressive visuals. It uses the Unreal 3 Engine, but inserts something we’re not used to seeing in Unreal-licensed games: lots of bright colors. Instead of graduated hues of blues, browns, and grays, there are plenty of yellows and oranges – colors that really make everything on the screen standout. Sure, the polygon count and overall level of detail isn’t huge, but what’s there works quite well. It’s too bad the music can’t match the quality of the visuals. It’s mostly a collection of generic rock that, for some reason, is mixed really low. Luckily, the developers included custom soundtrack support and mapped track-skipping to the left and right d-pad buttons, so you can quickly cycle through your favorite songs.

Multiplayer support is robust. Offline you can play with up to eight players, substituting bots for as many human players as you wish. Online the play count still clocks up to eight, and the matchmaking tools make hooking up with opponents a breeze. It’s too bad the game only comes with three maps – a little more variety would have helped. You can save replays of any match – whether offline or online – and then cut up the clip and save a copy to your XMB or upload it to YouTube. The tools are pretty rudimentary, but do give you a few camera and editing options. It’s a nice little bonus to have should you finish a match you want watch at a later time.

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars delivers a unique concept that stands out among the increasingly populated downloadable pack. It’s too bad this charm wears off quickly, resulting in a game that feels more like a novelty than a crafty idea brought to realization.

Yes, it uses Unreal 3 Engine, runs at a good clip, and has something we rarely see in UE3 games – a vivid color palette. 3.3 Control
Driving is no problem, but lining up shots seems to require more luck than skill, and the lock-on camera occasionally gets stuck in walls. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Very minimalist. So much so, nothing really stands out. However, there is the option for custom soundtrack support – a nice bonus. 3.0 Play Value
The tournament mode is shallow, but the huge assortment of mini-games and multiplayer breathe some much-needed vitality into a game that would have otherwise been a short-lived downloadable title. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • SARPBC features unique rocket-powered cars with incredible physics-based maneuverability, including the ability to rocket into the air or accelerate at supersonic speeds on the ground by racing over boost strips, obtaining boost capsules, or by performing a rapid succession of acrobatic flips.
  • Players choose their avatar car and customize its paint style.
  • Wide-ranging community involvement is supported through team and league play, as well as extensive and thorough statistical tracking, rankings, and rewards for individuals and teams, including support for PlayStation 3 system trophies.
  • Using the full featured in-game video editor, players have the ability to save, upload, and share their amazing triumphs and hysterical Battle-Car antics to their PlayStation 3 system hard drive or upload clips directly to YouTube.
  • Screen Resolution: Up to 1080p (Full HDTV).

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