Review: Cel Damage HD
Cel Damage HD is a car-combat game, a genre that has fallen by the wayside in recent generations. In contrast to the gritty, ultra-violent atmosphere set by the Twisted Metal franchise, Cel Damage takes place in a cartoony, wacky world. In fact, what you’re playing is perceived as a reality TV show inside of the game, which is entertaining in its own right. The graphics, weapons, and various game modes make Cel Damage a true car-combat competitor, especially when enjoyed with friends.
I’ve always been a fan of cel shading, from Rogue Galaxy to Jet Grind Radio and more. That particular graphical style gels well with Cel Damage; emphasizing the zany environments and characters. The three playable game modes are Smack Attack, Flag Rally, and Gate Relay. In all modes, there are boxes scattered around the map (in set spawn points) that equip you with a weapon if you run into them. The images on the boxes are clear, so there’s no question as to what weapon you’re going to receive by smashing through a particular box. Smack Attack is a no-holds-barred race to reach the set smack limit. Different weapons award the player with more or less smacks per hit, and there are over a dozen weapons to play around with. For example, the punching gloves attack quickly and pummel opponents ruthlessly, but they don’t award many smacks per hit. The spear, on the other hand, requires more precision and thus awards more smacks. This balancing act supports varying play styles, somewhat similarly to fighting games – play a fast character and you’re going to need to string together consistent combos; play a slow guy and you’re going to deal some major damage when you can get a hit in.
It should be noted that the cast of characters in Cel Damage HD only differ slightly in their controls and in their preferred special weapon. In Flag Rally, players hunt down fleet-footed flags and return them to a specific destination. Returning one flag earns you one point; two flags three points; three flags six points. This leads to a strategic balancing act between quickly cashing in or meaningfully cashing in. The third mode, Gate Relay, is a flat out race, but with most of the weapon boxes still scattered about the track. Circuits in Gate Relay are short for the most part, so an 8-lap game lasts around 4 minutes.
There are thirteen maps total in the game. The same maps are used for all game types, allowing for simultaneous familiarity and discovery. A couple of maps don’t work well with a couple of modes: examples include Bohemian Rasperry and Babbling 5 in Flag Relay mode. The former mentioned map has a drawbridge in it that will retract whenever someone hits a target. Since there are typically seven characters on a map at once, chances are high that you’ll plummet to your doom toting three flags as opposed to raking in six points. Overall, though, the level design is great, with most maps containing secret areas or more.
The cross-save feature in this game is magical. I’m familiar with cross-saving, as many Vita games support it, but this particular implementation is surprisingly seamless. For instance, at one point, the game updated the save file from Vita sleep mode when I started it up at the end of a race. It must automatically save to the cloud when an internet connection is detected and check for a save file every time it loads. As a solo affair on the Vita – there isn’t even an ad-hoc multiplayer option – I found Cel Damage HD to be a fun ride. Its learning curve is moderate but it is challenging enough to require some skill. It also happens to be a solid party game. With its variety of multiplayer options (weapons, AI, game modes, difficulty, limits), you can customize it to be a quick free-for-all, a battle against computers, or a marathon flag capture event. I definitely recommend it if you like car-combat, especially if you’ve got a few friends around.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Cel Shading
- Menu Music
- Game Types
What I Dislike:
- Select Maps