Cel Damage has a rather storied history with the Xbox brand. Originally released as a launch title on the original Xbox, alongside its Gamecube and PS2 releases, it failed to grab the attention of the general public and as such faded into obscurity. In steps Finish Line Games, who believe this title, with a fresh lick of paint, could find a place on our consoles and in our hearts. But were they right to exhume this cartoon demolition derby for another round?
Cel Damage HD, to sum it up, is what you would get if an 80’s Saturday morning cartoon was infused with the manic combat of the Twisted Metal series. The Cel-shaded animation and exaggerated physics puts you instantly in mind of the looney tunes cartoons with the cars bending and contorting in strange ways as you corner, and certain attacks and environmental hazards causing your car to be ‘pancaked’ when hit.
The plot is relatively simple, in fact almost non-existent; Cel Damage takes place as a destruction derby network tv show, where each of the playable characters are stars performing for the Toon audience. This is conveyed purely through the use of unlockable cutscenes that feature each of the characters with an introduction and finale of their events on the small screen.
The cast is an eclectic mix of characters from B.T. Bruno, a former construction worker who drives a bulldozer, Fowl Mouth, a black and white Gangster Duck who looks and talks like he’s stepped straight out of a 30’s film noire, to the bosses of each zone such as Whack Angus, a meat cleaver wielding Bull or Brian the Brain, an alien with a brain jar for a head.
The game is set up with 3 levels in each of the bosses respective zones; Angus in the Desert, T. Wrecks in the Jungle levels, Count Earl in the horror themed area and Brian the Brain in the space levels. Cel Damage has 3 distinct modes over which these levels can be played. First up is Gate Relay, which requires you to place first in a straight up lapped race, Flag Rally which serves as the capture the flag mode, and Smack Attack which is your default free for all deathmatch. Each of these modes contains countless health buffs and a plethora of ranged and melee weapon pickups with which to destroy your opponents.
With its pick-up and play controls, it is easy to jump in and have a blast either solo against AI, or preferably with up to four players in local multiplayer. The triggers act as accelerator and handbrake, allowing you to both reverse and powerslide with a touch of the trigger while the face buttons are limited to a recoverable nitro boost and firing your weapon pickups. Further to these controls, the right stick also allows you to perform flips and tricks, which can either get you away from a damaging projectile or can even be used to attack your enemies if timed correctly.
Cel Damage HD is a shallow yet fun game that can quite easily find a place in your local multiplayer library for when you have friends over.
This sadly is also its downfall. With a rather lacking story, and a total of 36 combinations of maps and modes it just doesn’t have the longevity to appeal to anyone other than those that have a close-knit group of friends with which they couch game. Anyone looking for a game they can sink their teeth into will likely be disappointed.
Thanks to Xbox and Finish Line Games for supporting TiX