Originally released in 2001 as an Xbox launch title, Cel Damage was an interesting take on the Twisted Metal formula; however, it didn't quite resonate with gamers the way the developers hoped. Reviews were fair to middling, with some reviewers enjoying the game while some feeling they didn't get their $49.99 worth, making the game an interesting choice for a current generation revival. With a lack of Twisted Metal styled games on the PlayStation 4, will Cel Damage HD make a good substitute for your vehicular destruction needs?
What's Old Is New Again
The best way to describe Cel Damage HD is that the game is a Twisted Metal clone, with the serious, grim atmosphere of that game being replaced with bright colors and cel-shaded, cartoonish graphics. Players can choose from 10 different characters, including a few unlockable characters, that range from a 1920's black and white gangster duck, a dominatrix, a space alien and a T-rex with an ego problem. For the most part, the characters are well-designed, the quips they spout during gameplay are enjoyable and the cel-shaded graphics helps the game nail that Saturday morning cartoon look it's aiming for.
The weapons conform to this identity as well, with players able to wield giant boxing gloves, samurai swords, tommy guns, laser ray guns, and dynamite crossbows, just to name a few examples. Cel Damage HD features more than 30 weapons, with each weapon having its own unique properties or attack mode. The weapons are well-balanced, have multiple spawn points in all the arenas and respawn often. The action is fast and frantic thanks to this.
Unlike Twisted Metal, Cel Damage HD features three different game modes:
- Smack Attack – Damaging or destroying opponents rewards “Smacks,” and the player that reaches a set amount of smacks first is the winner
- Flag Rally – Players need to capture flags and return it to a set location to score points
- Gate Rally – Your standard race style game mode
Smack Attack is the core gameplay experience and works great – no complaints there. However, Flag Rally and Gate Rally stumble a bit. In Flag Rally, getting hit causes you to lose flags, and the sensitivity meter for this seems to be set on maximum; it seems that any hit will cause you to lose your flags, which ends up being more frustrating than it is fun. In Gate Rally, races just go on too long, with 8 laps being the minimum number of laps you can set for the mode. You can increase this number (though why you would want to is beyond me) but it's not possible to decrease it.
This isn't to say these modes are bad, per se, but just look at them as extra modes with Smack Attack being the main attraction, as it's the most fun.
No Online Play
Let's get the game's one major flaw out of the way: it contains no online play. While games such as Towerfall Ascension have a legitimate reason for not including online play, there really seems to be no reason why Cel Damage HD couldn't add in an online infrastructure and the game suffers because of it.
Cel Damage HD does include local multiplayer splitscreen for up to four different players and thankfully, it's a blast. Smack Attack works best when playing with friends, especially when turning the AI off, providing hours of fun – especially when you rotate it with other local multiplayer games. Speaking of turning the AI off, the game features a large amount of customization, such as letting you pick which weapons spawn in each arena and tweaking the win conditions. However, after playing a few rounds of local multiplayer, you'll miss the missing online component that much more.
Cel Damage HD includes a single player mode consisting of playing through the multiple game modes on every arena. The single player mode is bare bones and isn't the most exciting thing in the world but you'll need to play it through to completion to unlock characters, arenas and weapons. The AI, however, is vicious, providing a huge challenge even on Normal difficulty. If you want to just unlock items and be done with the single player mode, set it to Easy.
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
Cel Damage HD looks amazing on the PlayStation 4, with its cel-shaded graphics hiding the fact that the game is over 10 years old. The graphics are sharp, crisp and clean; this is easily the best looking version of the game released so far. The gameplay has received a few small tweaks to make it user friendly as well, such as requiring you to win only six matches to unlock a character's personal weapon for everyone, down from 36.
The game uses the DualShock 4's speaker to play your character's quips, which is a nice touch. It would have been nice to have the option to toggle this off in the game's Options menu, though.
Like all PlayStation 4 games, Cel Damage HD includes trophies, which is a first for the game. Unfortunately, the included trophy list is boring and easily attainable: I was able to attain 100% of the trophies in only a few hours. Unfortunately, there is no platinum trophy for the game.
Buying the PS4 version of Cel Damage HD gives you access to the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions of the game (and vice versa), which is always a welcome bonus. The Vita trophy list is separate from the PS4, as well.
At its core, Cel Damage HD is the same game released in 2001, but the main difference is the price: What wasn't worth $49.99 is absolutely worth $9.99, thanks to the tons of options and game modes packed in. Cel Damage HD shows its age, as the game design definitely feels like a relic from 2001 in places, but if you're got some spare DualShock 4's and some friends around, you'll have a blast.
Final Score: 7/10
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 5/4/2014