Cel Damage HD – Review

Title   Cel Damage HD
Developer  Finish Line Games
Publisher  Finish Line Games
Platform  PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Genre  Racing, Vehicular Combat
Release Date  May 14, 2014

Some games are so fondly remembered, so revered, that a hi-def remake is inevitable. Cel Damage HD, a vehicular combat game from the original Xbox/PS2 era isn’t one of those games although somehow it has appeared on the modern consoles even if it is to raised eyebrows rather than any real acclaim. As a vehicular combat game, there’s no real plot beyond the vague concept that the six racers in the game are taking part in some sort of television show and an oh-so-Dreamcasty cutscene explains this briefly before the game puts you into the gameplay.

Everything starts with you selecting a game mode and one of four types of environment, and these modes come in three flavours. Gate Relay is your standard checkpoint race mode, Flag Rally is a manic ‘capture the flag’ type of affair and Smack Attack is your straight-up battle mode. Essentially these boil down to either contests of speed, firepower or a mixture of both.

The game is based around local multiplayer for up to four racers or you can use a number of AI competitors. Local multiplayer is probably the way to go as the AI racers are quite sensationally stupid, often passing you in the wrong direction as you race to yet another easy win. That said, most of your couch gaming buddies are likely to say ‘what the fuck is this shit?‘ especially if they aren’t nostalgic for gaming trends of the early Noughties.

The poster-child for this type of game is arguably the Twisted Metal series and when compared to it, Cel Damage has always struggled to compete. The track and level design is particularly unambitious with levels often being bland, open affairs with little in the way of interactivity apart from the odd trap door or annoying magnet. These will often catch you out but the AI puts up so little of a fight that ultimately even getting taken out with a couple of laps to go won’t usually set you too far back from a win.

When compared to Twisted Metal: World Tour‘s fantastic Paris or Hong Kong stages, it all seems a little bland. This view is further encouraged when it comes to the weaponary on offer which tries to be a little creative but lacks the real sense of impact that it needs to make the game exciting. The weapons make a bit of difference to races and battles but they lack the sort of dynamism you want from a car combat game.

The game, as the title hints, is presented in a cartoony, cel-shaded manner and while it does look clean and colourful, there’s a reason why everyone got bored of this graphic style. It does tend to look all too clinical and often seems like a way to cut down on actual detail. However, when viewed on both the PS4 and Vita the action is always clear enough. Which is… something, right?

The handling is also quite cartoony and you’ll often be wrestling with the controls to stop you bouncing off course. This is quite appropriate for the game though and is probably the most interesting aspect of it. Trying to hold it together on a tight turn while people are trying to chainsaw you does at least make for some entertaining moments.

Keeping control of your car is a tad easier on the sturdier controller of the PS4 while the small screen and sensitive controls of the Vita make life a tiny bit tougher but you’ll be fine either way. The seamless cross-save feature makes it easy to continue your progress on whichever machine you choose.

Beyond that, there’s little else to say about the game. It’s a solid enough port of a very limited game that does nothing wrong but never takes any chances. It may serve as an okay party game, and appears to be an okay source of trophies if that’s your bag but all in all, Cel Damage HD is a game that no-one expected to see remade, which probably suggests it shouldn’t have been.

  • Solid gameplay that may appeal to anyone nostalgic for whatever was going on two generations ago.
  • Clean, crisp visuals.
  • Might have a bit more value as a party game.
  • Has some value for people with a couple of Sony consoles.
  • Decent cross-save functionality.
  • The three game modes are all a bit underwhelming.
  • Is far from spectacular in any department.
  • Boring track and level design.
  • Isn't Twisted Metal: World Tour.

Most vehicular combat games aren't much cop and this is one of those. With better level design and some over-the-top weaponary to match the cartoony attitude of the game, this could have been interesting but ultimately no-one really cared about Cel Damage over a decade ago and even less will care now.

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