Review: Cel Damage HD (PS4)

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Title: Cel Damage HD
Format: PlayStation Network Download (574 MB)
Release Date: April 22, 2014 (US) / TBD (EU, Australia, and New Zealand)
Publisher: Finish Line Games
Developer: Finish Line Games
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US) Cross-Buy (PS4, PS3, and PS Vita)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Cel Damage HD is also available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. It is a Cross-Buy, Cross-Save game.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Editor’s Note:
The review of this game is based on the PS4 version, though a quick impression about the other two versions has been added at the end.

When the original Cel Damage came out for the Xbox I picked it as one of the games that came with my bundle at EB Games.  I wanted to get something different and something that anybody could play.

Gameplay:
Cel Damage is a cel shaded vehicular game that feels like it is the fusion of Cars and Family Guy.  While there is a lot of combat in the game, it is not strictly combat game like Twisted Metal.  There are two additional modes that you can compete in without having to shoot your opponents.  Then again where’s the fun in that?  Since Cel Damage is a cartoon based game, the cars are very loose and behave the way that you would expect a cartoon car to handle.  There are three modes to play in twelve different areas.  The modes are Smack Attack, Gate Relay, and Flag Rally.

Smack Attack is kind of like a Deathmatch mode, with the exception that you get points for more than just kills.  You get points based on what you hit your opponent with.  A weapon that is more difficult to hit with gives you more points than a weapon that is easier to hit with.  There are also other things that factor into scoring, but aren’t something that you need to know in order to play the game.  While this system is more complex than a standard Deathmatch it allows people to just fire away and have fun.

Cel Damage Smack Attack 1 Cel Damage Smack Attack 2

Gate Relay is a race around the map going through gates as you go.  If you miss one you need to go back and drive through it in order to keep the progress of the lap going.  Luckily there is an arrow that points you towards your next gate.  You can go through this mode without shooting any of your opponents if you like, just be warned that your opponents will not be playing the same way.

Cel Damage Gate Relay 1 Cel Damage Gate Relay 2

Flag Rally is capture the flag and return it to base.  You can carry multiple flags at once if you like to take risks.  One unique thing about this capture the flag mode is that the flags are not stationary, they walk around the map. Once a flag has been captured it can be freed by damaging the car that it is riding in.

Cel Damage Gate Rally Cel Damage Flag Rally

You can play each of these modes over three different “worlds” that are further separated into four different areas.  When you start out, only a few areas are available, with further areas unlockable as you place first in different modes. While it is unfortunate everything isn’t unlocked at the beginning, you can easily unlock everything in the game by playing through it on easy.  Each world has a specific theme to it and each level has a lot of hidden/secret elements.  Some of these elements include hidden areas, alternate routes and environmental hazards.  Each map is fun to play and the more you play them the more little things you will find.

When playing, you have six characters that you can pick from with an additional four unlockable.  Each character drives a unique vehicle and has a unique personality and every vehicle plays differently from the others.  Some might be faster or have more health, however each vehicle is balanced well so it doesn’t seem like there is one super vehicle.  It would be nice to see a chart of each vehicle’s characteristics when you are selecting your character though.  Since each character has a different personality it makes it easy to play as any of the characters instead of playing as one or two favorites due to each character having unique catchphrases and taunts.  If you win with each character enough you can unlock funny background videos of them as well.

Another nice feature of the game is the over the top cartoon weapons.  Pulling up behind an enemy and unleashing a quick volley of punches never gets old. Besides the boxing gloves, some other notable weapons are the broadside cannons that shoot to your side, the wood-chipper that can launch your opponent into the air, the buzz-saw that shoots a large spinning blade at your opponents and the portable hole that works just like you would expect it to in a cartoon world. Each weapon also has different characteristics in five different categories, the three most important ones are Smack Points, Damage, and Ammo. Again it would be nice to see this displayed somewhere in the game, even in a loading menu.

Finally since the game is Cross-Buy and Cross-Play you can play the game on any of the three systems and then continue on a different system later.  This is a key thing to me because the PS Vita doesn’t have multiplayer, which makes it perfect to go through and unlock things in your spare time then play with those unlocked items in multiplayer on a PS3 or PS4.

Visuals: 
The game is cell shaded and really shines in HD.  While there is occasional clipping and popping in of backgrounds, for what was originally a launch game on the Xbox it has held up very well.  Each character and vehicle look great and each map is really immersive.  Having played the original, I am seeing details in this game that I don’t remember from the original.  While this is not pushing the power of the PS4 it is a beautiful game.

Audio:
While there is music in the game it is mostly forgettable.  The real star of the audio is the characters and weapons.  Each character will make random comments as well as taunts.  Your character’s voice will come through the speaker in your controller so you can hear it more clearly.  Each weapon has a great cartoony sound as well.  My only complaint with the sound is that you can’t do a custom soundtrack (mainly for single player) and that instead of your character’s voice coming through your controller’s speaker I wish that it was your opponent’s voice.

Online/Multiplayer:
There is no online multiplayer in this game which is a shame.  I do understand why it is not in the game, since the original didn’t have that feature.  You can however play up to four people with couch co-op, which is really the way games like this were made to be played.  Co-op played flawlessly with no slowdown to the game play.  Though depending on the size of your TV it may be hard to see all the action that is going on.

Cel Damage Multiplayer Cel Damage Multiplayer

Conclusion:
I loved the original Cel Damage and have thoroughly enjoyed this game. While it has just twelve levels and three modes it is really fun to play.  In reviewing this game we had some frantic four player action.  It is a testament to this game that we played it more than other more known games that evening.  Add in the value of it being Cross-Buy and it is hard not to recommend this game.

Score: 

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

PS3 Impressions:
This version of the game is almost similar to the PS4 version with the main exception of sound.  Since the DualShock 3 doesn’t have the built-in speaker you can’t hear your characters comments as clearly.  Despite that limitation in the few matches I played on this system I enjoyed it and is almost even with the PS4 version.  The decision on which system to play if you have both a PS3 and PS4 is based on do you want better sound and slightly better graphics experience or do you want to play it with a controller whose battery life is better.

PS Vita Impressions:
This is the most limited version of the game since it is only single player. If the game was only on this system I would not be reviewing it nearly as high as I did the PS4 version.  However, since it is part of the package I think that the Vita version is an important piece of the puzzle.  As I mentioned earlier, since the game is Cross-Save you can play it on the Vita to unlock everything for later multiplayer gaming sessions.  I would recommend this strategy of playing since to me the Vita has the best graphics and controls of any of the versions.  There is something about the Vita screen that makes this game look gorgeous.

Written by Damon Bullis

Damon Bullis

I’m a gamer from back in the days of Telstar Arcade, Atari 2600, and Intellivision. I currently have a PS4, PS3x2, Vita, PSP, Xbox One, 360, Wii U, Wii, and a N64.

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