The original Cel Damage was released over a decade ago and featured a slew of cartoonish characters driving wacky vehicles while trying to destroy each other with a variety of weapons. While the concept and gameplay were similar to other vehicular combat games like Twisted Metal, Cel Damage was unique mainly through the cel-shaded animation which fit in well with the TV theme of the game. After many years and a couple console generations, the game is back in an HD re-release in Cel Damage HD. Developed by Finish Line Games, Cel Damage HD is a faithful re-creation of the original game at a fairly reasonable price.
Cel Damage HD: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Developer: Finish Line Games
Publisher: Finish Line Games
Release Date: 11 March 2016
Price: £7.19 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Cel Damage HD takes place in a fictional cartoon series that pits racers against each other in a series of deadly contests to win the show. While the game lacks any sort of story or campaign mission that provides any details on the plot or the characters themselves, there are a few cutscenes that are unlocked as you progress through the game modes with each character. Players can choose from a variety of characters that each have their own vehicle and play through three types of events within the show. The three modes include Smack Attack, Flag Rally, and Gate Relay.
Smack Attack is your standard death match mode where you are pitted in an arena against several opponents in a free-for-all style game. Players will have to collect whatever weapon pick-up they can find and try to land as many hits on opposing opponents. The character with the most points at the end of the match wins. Flag Rally is your standard capture the flag mode, where racers must drive around collecting flags and returning them to the designated zone. The first driver to deliver 10 flags to the zone wins the match. Finally, Gate Relay is the games only racing mode, where drivers must race through a series of checkpoints around the course. The game modes in Cel Damage HD are pretty typical by modern standards and don’t offer much to set itself apart from other similar games that have released since then.
The maps in Cel Damage HD are fairly diverse, each taking place in one of four general themes: The desert, the jungles, a “scary” setting (which is a night-time Transylvania-inspired theme), and space. While these tracks offer some variety, the individual arenas within each one feel similar to each other to the point that they all seem to flow together. There is also a wide arsenal of weapons to unlock to use in each of the three gameplay modes including a baseball bat, boxing gloves, a chainsaw, machine gun, and lasers. Some weapons are more powerful than others, so the game quickly turns into a race for the best weapons. The controls themselves are simple and easy to get into; Attack and boost buttons are mapped to the face buttons while the triggers are the accelerate and brake buttons. Moving the right analogue stick allows you to dodge sideways while moving the right stick up allows you to do a front flip. The simple pick-up and play style makes Cel Damage HD a game that is easy and accessible for gamers of all ages and skill level.
Graphically speaking, the art style in Cel Damage HD holds up well by today’s standards. The cel-shaded artstyle does a well enough job of masking the simple and blocky character models. It fits well with the TV aesthetic, as characters look and play like something out of The Simpsons. However, none of the characters are any memorable, nor do they really play much different from each other. The sounds and music are average at best, and the basic textures, environments, and effects leave a lot to be desired, even with an HD update.
Although the original Cel Damage made for a great local couch co-op play, the lack of any online co-op play in the HD remake is rather puzzling. Instead, Cel Damage HD allows only for split screen local multiplayer for up to four players on the console. This means that anyone looking for play this game with friends will have to do so locally otherwise they will have to settle on playing with bots, which can get stale rather quickly. The lack of online modes in this game is a rather large oversight on the developer’s part, especially since this game seems like the perfect type of game to play online with friends or random players across the world.
Cel Damage HD isn’t a game that will hold many people’s attention for long. The simple pick up and play controls and design mean that even an inexperienced gamer will be able to figure out the game and do well after a couple of matches, but with only a couple of modes in the game, it will not take people long before they’ve experienced everything the game has to offer. The addition of online features and matchmaking would have added longevity to the game for anyone looking to play with friends or against opponents from around the world. Ultimately, Cel Damage HD is a game that feels better suited for handheld devices or mobile platforms rather than a home console.