Today in “Announcements No One Expected To Ever Fucking Happen,” a Toronto-based game studio known as Finish Line Games revealed that they would be porting obscure car combat game Cel Damage to the Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and Playstation Vita in stunning HD. Released for the Gamecube, Playstation 2, and Xbox all the way back in 2002, Cel Damage was a cel shaded car combat game set in the world of cartoons, essentially making it Tom and Jerry meets Twisted Metal, which is awesome. Despite the fantastic concept and fun gameplay, the game didn’t make a splash and faded into obscurity. Unfortunately, this is a fate that befell many great car combat games, mostly due to the fact that everyone stuck to the Twisted Metal franchise. So, strap in, because today we’ll be looking back at some of the greatest car combat games that aren’t Twisted Metal.
5. Blood Drive
Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Starting off our list is a pretty recent title by the name of Blood Drive. No, this isn’t the kind of blood drive where you get a cookie and orange juice afterwards. This Blood Drive is a game show set in a world decimated by a zombie apocalypse, where contestants hop into cars and blow the competition to smithereens, all while splattering zombies to gain extra points. When contestants aren’t smushing the undead under their tires, there’s plenty of weapons scattered around the field to pick up, including missiles, flamethrowers, and saw blades. Characters such as a Vegas crooner, a psycho ambulance driver, and a post-apocalyptic Fred Durst look-alike zoom around the battlefield, vying for kills and points.
What keeps Blood Drive from being a truly great game is it’s lack of local multiplayer. A car combat game that doesn’t let you sit on your couch and blow up your friends is hardly a car combat game at all. But it’s a fun game all the same, and you should definitely take it for a spin sometime.
4. WWE Crush Hour
Playstation 2, Gamecube
There’s weird concepts, and then there’s WWE Crush Hour. Someone somewhere thought “Wow, pro wrestling sure is great. But it would be even better if we took wrestlers, put them in giant cars with machine guns strapped to the hood, and made them fight to the death,” and thus WWE Crush Hour was born. With a tongue in cheek storyline dealing with Vince McMahon purchasing all of media and needing shows starring the WWE superstarts to fill the airtime, it’s nice that WWE Crush Hour doesn’t take itself terribly seriously. Featuring a roster of over 30 wrestlers, WWE Crush Hour allows you to finally find out who would win in a fight between Hulk Hogan and Jeff Hardy if they were in monster trucks. To make things even better, the whole thing is commentated by Jim Ross.
WWE Crush Hour isn’t the best car combat game by any means, but it’s ridiculous premise alone makes it worth a play. Besides, if you don’t want to play a game where Ric Flair drives a car with a giant “WOO!” on the front bumper, I don’t think we can be friends.
3. Star Wars: Demolition
Sure, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to pit a man riding a Rancor against Darth Maul on a swoop bike, but it didn’t really matter. Star Wars: Demolition was a Star Wars dorks dream come true, plucking characters from all over the galaxy, shoving them into various vehicles, and making them blow each other up. The game had a flimsy story to explain this odd turn of events: Podracing has been banned by the powers that be, so notorious slug gangster Jabba the Hutt sets up an illegal battle arena to attract high-stakes gamblers. Combatants are sent to a variety of planets such as Hoth and Naboo to destroy the competition and blow up the locals. Using the vast world of Star Wars to it’s advantage, each stage is littered with hazards, such as Sarlacc pits and rogue Tie Fighters. Weapons such as concussion missiles and thermal detonators are scattered about the levels, and each vehicle has a unique special weapon, such as Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber or Boba Fett’s disintegrator rockets.
Star Wars: Demolition is a complete cash-in on the car combat craze that was big at the time, but it managed to be a fun game despite it’s absolutely ridiculous concept. It definitely warrants a play for fans and non-fans alike.
2. Vigilante 8: Second Offense
Playstation, Dreamcast, N64
The original Vigilante 8 was a run-of-the-mill car combat game set during the 70’s, pitting two teams of outlaws, the Coyotes and the Vigilantes, against each other in a fight for domination. It was pretty forgettable, but for the sequel, the makers of the game decided to fix the gameplay and make the story batshit insane. Vigilante 8: Second Offense finds the characters from the first game fighting outlaws from the far flung future, who have traveled back in time to kill the leader of the Vigilantes to ensure they will rule the world. Add in cowboy robots, a Shaft rip-off, a space chimp, and a Jackson 5-esque motorcycle squad, and you have Vigilante 8: Second Offense. The game had plenty of crazy weapons to pick up and buildings to destroy, but it also added the ability to pick up car modifiers that allowed you to drive on water or fly. This added a whole new aspect to the combat, allowing you to pick up propellers and escape into the water when running from an enemy.
Vigilante 8: Second Offense has gone on to acquire a cult following, with many remembering the game fondly. A sequel was eventually made for Xbox Live, but it couldn’t match up to the second game’s craziness. If you ever want to have a great time, just grab three friends, pile onto the couch, pop in Vigilante 8: Second Offense, and have hours of fun blowing each other to smithereens.
1. Rouge Trip: Vacation 2012
Rouge Trip: Vacation 2012 is like someone took everything I loved in my early teens, shoved it in onto one convenient package, and released it for the Playstation.With a soundtrack provided by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, bizarre characters such as a fat Elvis impersonator and a homicidal Weinermobile driver, and gameplay that emphasized blowing everything up, Rouge Trip: Vacation 2012 was one of my favorite games back in the day. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where vacations are a luxury only obtainable by the obscenely wealthy, Rouge Trip casts you as an auto-mercenary who must fight it out with other combatants to take tourists to various landmarks in order to earn cash. This leads to frantic fights where you must battle for the tourists while also ensuring that your enemies meet a painful death. The game is absolutely ridiculous, and makes no attempt to take itself seriously.
Rouge Trip: Vacation 2012 had plenty of potential for a new series, but unfortunately the game faded into obscurity. I highly recommend seeking out a copy of the game and giving it a play. You won’t be disappointed.