Obliteracers is a same-screen, party racer for up to 16 players, emphasizing wanton destruction as you race cute, but brutal aliens across exotic planets in physic-based vehicles to annihilate your competition. Now the first thing that people are going to say when they see this title is “it’s just like Mario Kart”, and although there are some key similarities, these are only in its primary elements; you drive around, collecting weapons and power-ups to blow your opponents off the tracks. But these aside, Obliteracers does a great job of distinguishing itself from other arcade games of this genre.
The graphic design is particularly appealing, with lots of colours and explosions that are easy to appreciate and the outlandish vehicles and cartoony characters are a treat for the eyes. Vehicle choices consist of tanks, hover-cars and other hovercraft-like-karts, all driven by birds, boars and robots that really fit the description “outlandish”. The maps are visually stunning and very well put together, but there are only a few that stand out, leaving others to be quite forgetful.
The game feels and plays very smoothly. Vehicles controls are fluid and easy to use after a bit of practice and the lack of traction of the race track quickly adds to the mayhem and strategy as you drift around corners looking to knock other players off the track. Even at full player capacity, the levels run beautifully and so far have yet to experience a drop in frame rate or any formidable freezes.
And it’s at its full player capacity where the real chaos comes to the forefront. To have 16 players simultaneously sharing the same screen is a fast-paced, chaotic thrill ride that is enhanced by the people you play with. A selling feature of the game is the ability to use your smart phone, tablet or laptop as an additional controller, allowing for 16 players in the same room to all play the same game. It’s not without its little grievances. It can prove tricky to get these devices up and running and mastering the controls on a different device can take an hour or two to get to grips with, but once set up, a lot of fun can be had.
There is a greater focus on fighting than racing, which shifts around the racing formula that does give the game its own identity and feels more refreshing. The close proximity of all the players on-screen puts a greater emphasis on battling it out as opposed to getting ahead. Being first isn’t always the best idea here. Sometimes it’s better to be at the back of the pack and pick off your opponents one kart at a time. Speed, in this case, is not always the best option. Most players will fall off the track before you even get a chance to annihilate them and if you trail behind you are either knocked out or respawn back in the pack, depending on the game mode, setting up a lot of laughs and a great deal of fun.
There’s a decent amount of game modes to have fun with, but you may find yourself sticking to a certain few. Deathmatch is the one to focus on, although Survival is a close second, but the issue with most of the modes is simply the fact that rounds can be over far too quickly to really get your funny bones tickled. The lack of a progression system is also a bit of a shame. There are no levels or unlockables to be found as rewards, only a leaderboard to track your progress.
However, though the game modes themselves don’t offer a huge amount of variety, there are ‘Modifiers’ that you can apply to your own races. These can be used to tone done the chaos or make things even more insane, giving you the freedom to customise the rules to suit whatever realm of madness you are looking for. These include making the ground more slippery, turning the floor to lava in Survival mode, removing pickups and certain weapons and much, much more. When playing locally with a group of friends in the same room, this really brings the party element of the racer to life and fundamentally is where the real source of entertainment comes from.
The camera is the feature that proves to be quite tricky. Although it’s great fun to see all these racers battling it out on the same screen, the camera tries to frame the chaos by attempting to follow the central point of the pack. This can prove quite frustrating as the camera constantly zooms in and out to try and maintain that middle point and particularly when going over jumps or around corners, the camera isn’t sure what to aim for. It can be very disorientating and often or not you’ll lose track of which vehicle you are actually controlling, especially when you are trying to keep one on eye on the course and another on your target.
There is the choice of a Single Player (or Career Mode) option for those unable to take it online, but this remains to be a very basic setup that pits you against bots and random challenges that get progressively harder. There is some fun to be had here. The challenges are challenging rather than trivial, but nothing compares to the thrill and madness of competing against thinking, unpredictable human beings.
Obliteracers proves itself to be a great little game that’s a pretty decent affair for the price, and best played with your friends. It’s not really one to play if you’re likely to play it solo. The bots don’t offer the same level of challenge and chaos that human beings do. There may not be a great variety of maps and modes, but the ‘Modifiers’ offer potential to keep it fresh and it’s simple enough for anyone to pick it up, play it and most importantly, enjoy it. The camera is the only thing that threatens to put you off, but once you get used to it, it’s little more than a niggle. But all in all, this is a party game that must be played with friends. It is there and only there, where the true worth of the game is realised.
For those players looking for a title to satisfy their alternative to Nintendo’s Mario Kart, then you are going to be disappointed. But once you see how different Obliteracers is, and all the better for it, you’ll have discovered a great little racing game with lots of fun to be had with friends.
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