By: Jeff Cater
Cel Damage originally saw its release back in 2001 on the Xbox, which was followed by ports to all major consoles of that time. It was widely regarded as a fun, although flawed family-friendly version, of Sony’s Twisted Metal. Now, more than a decade later, Finish Line Games saw fit to dig it up, reapply its makeup and throw it back into the fray. How does it hold up? Let’s see.
I still remember having issues with the controls when I played it on Xbox; issues I initially thought were still present in this version, such as sluggishness and under-sensitivity of button input, and were literally due to a hardware error. Upon using another controller (and checking it out on a friend’s Vita) I have found that the controls are considerably tightened up and better lend themselves to the games setting and mood.
L1 and R1 will perform barrel rolls resulting in surprisingly hilarious and frantic multiplayer moments. The face buttons are assigned to throwing your chosen drivers projectile and activating a speed boost, and, as I mentioned above, the inputs feel much less mushy than they did back in, what we here like to call, the “dizzle.” (Editor’s Note: No, we really dizon’t.)
Cel shading done on consoles back in the early 2000s was pretty rare, mostly because it was hard to make it look good with the available technology. Cel Damage HD cleans this up a bit, but it does not impress. Textures have been redone, and that is it.
Character design is pretty interesting. They haven’t been noticeably reworked, but they are all still very much their stretchy selves. It’s still pretty fun watching the chaos ensue because of the ultra cartoony animations: drivers blast, scoot and bounce across the landscapes while they chop, shoot and shred one another.
The audio is pretty darn amusing, too, with each character clearly representing themselves vocally on the battlefield. The soundtrack gets in the way pretty early, so feel free to throw your own tunes on somehow, but leave it at least low enough to hear the driver Fowl Mouth, who has the best (bleeped!) lines.
Make a split-screen multiplayer game for the couch, and they will complain about lack of online — and vice versa. Finish Line decided against online in favor of… well, just not having online. It may have resembled work or something. So grab some friends and make sure they go out and buy some extra controllers to bring for that sweet Smack Attack!
That’s Cel Damage HDs Deathmatch mode, which is fun with pals, but the real fun lies within Flag Rally where everyone is fighting for, yep, flags! Yeah, the game modes are pretty unoriginal, but they are fun nonetheless.
Each stage contains their own dangers too, such as spikes, spring-traps and even a train that will wipe anything out in the way. Still, Cel Damage HD didn’t do much to separate itself from its original incarnation, and that is a bummer.
Cel Damage HD could have been online, and it also could look much better than it does given it has been 13 years since its initial release. This HD re-release of a cult classic is a textbook example of missed opportunities.