Obliteracers zooms onto the PC gaming scene as a fun combat cart racer, allowing a whopping 16 local or online players. Racing takes a backseat to destroying your opponents. Combining arcade racing with such large scale party mechanics is a major selling point in this charming arcade title.
Okay. Let me be the first to admit, I am not a very big racing fan. When I want to experience the feeling of driving a car, I will get inside one of my vehicles and drive. Something I have been doing for over two decades. Racing games that interest me are heavy on charm, offers the freedom to destroy everything, or both. Obliteracers is just that, and with ambitious multiplayer options. You do not need sixteen controllers on hand to play on a couch with friends. Any mobile device can tie in via your local network and act as a controller (there’s even a nice QRE code that players can quickly scan to connect).
The single player campaign is not only a solid training arena for multiplayer, but also a challenging mode all it’s own. There are 24 tracks with multiple race types to battle through. Early races ease you into game, by including three bots to race against. Races are not about crossing a finish line, but obliterating anyone who’s in the race. Each track features numerous weapon items, these include: side flamethowers, guided or spread missiles, machine guns, gravity bombs, oil slicks, mines, and electroshock devices. Familiarizing yourself with the location and timing of these weapons takes very little practice. Mastering each weapon to make them more effective will take some getting used to.
Take the gravity bomb weapon, which envelopes the player’s cart in a swirling mass of power before popping like a bubble. Other racers caught in the blast are pushed away. Most players can recover from the shock in a few seconds, so deploying on open track isn’t very effective. Wait for players to vault over a ramp, and the gravity bomb will yield far more devastating results.
Eliminating a racer can happen in one of two forms. Inflict enough damage on their vehicle and it will catch flames, and soon explode. The other form is to fall too far behind. Being pushed or missing a turn can eliminate your racer as well as using a weapon. In the single player campaign, you’ll bomb AI bots over a high embankment or send a missile up another’s tailpipe with ease. At least at first. Later campaign matches will feature up to 15 AI bots, then matters get far more complicated. In particular, getting your hands on a weapon (and surviving if you don’t) becomes critical.
Obliteracers is a great looking game. Maps are themed after tropical islands, harsh deserts, futuristic metropolitan areas, and more; each with charming and vivid animations. Racers feel like grumpy old codgers out to cane any young whipper-snappers brazen enough to cut them off. They match the jazzy themes playing through each race, a mix between Laurel and Hardy and ragtime jazz. Their vehicles are equally eclectic. Tracks are designed to give players plenty of hazards to back stab each other; scream over empty chasms, through waterfalls, littered obstacles; in the rain or in the snow.
Where Obliteracers slams into trouble at times is in large parties. While it’s a definite plus playing in large groups, you will easily lose sight of yourself in a sea of other racers. This can be frustrating at times, but not as frustrating as dealing with the responsiveness of mobile devices versus standard controllers. There is an undeniable advantage for players utilizing a controller. Missing turns or failing to activate a weapon at an opportune moment because of fumbling with a mobile device is disappointing. It is almost more fair to put all players on controllers. Mobile devices as controllers seem like a good idea, but in practice they are a major hindrance for players.
While these control issues, and witless AI bots can slam the brakes on fun at times, there’s something to be said for the mayhem you can cause. Silencing a friend’s short lived cheer as he moves into the lead with a disabling electric charge. Careening your car into a pile of opponents whilst setting of missile and sending eight of them careening over the edge and out of the match. These are the kinds of chuckle inducing moments you’d expect from this title. Such experiences are plentiful here. Maybe it’s not Mario Kart, and it doesn’t need to be. With a little ingenuity, developer Varkian Empire has integrated the widest range of control devices for this game. Granted the willingness to put up with control issues with using a mobile browser on a local IP will vary, but the option is there. Throw in a heaping serving of charm, vivid aesthetics, and robotic old fogies into this party cart racer, and Obliteracers is one terrific game.