There have been plenty of calls for HD remakes of games from the PS1, PS2, XBOX, Gamecube era, with many having come to fruition. However the HD release of Cel Damage has come a little out of left field.
When originally released Cel Damage boasted some impressive visuals, with the cel shaded style giving the game an authentic cartoon look and feel. The gameplay however got a bit of a mixed reception and the game fell directly in the realms of middle tier. Something that was great to rent for a weekend when you had friends over.
It wasn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but it had to battle other games of similar ideas. It was seen as more of a family friendly Twisted Metal or Carmageddon. However, looking back, it was played some fairly fond memories, so when the chance came to give it another spin, we couldn’t turn it down.
The thing with Cel Damage is that is was a game of its time. It was very barebones in terms of options, with just three real modes of which to speak. Flag Rally, Gate Relay and Smack Attack. Gate relay is a mode that is the closest to a Kart Racer in the game, with players completing laps by passing through checkpoints dotted around the track.
Flag rally had players racing to collect flags dotted throughout the level and essentially being the one at the end with the most and Smack Attack being the main course, where you pretty much drive around using power-ups to destroy the other players, the winner being the one to a certain score first.
Now whilst these are all decent modes in their own right, they also prove the fact that gaming has moved on a lot since its original release, there just isn’t enough content in there compared to most games that come out now, nor is there really enough variety. Had this been released as a full priced title it would have been a travesty, however for less that £10 it is still a game you can have plenty of fun with and feel as though you are getting value for your money.
Again, being a re-release from a 2001 game, it is best played in local multiplayer, where you can sit with others in the same room and mock each other as you beat them, or heckle them as they beat you. It does remind you of a time gaming was a lot more social and a time where games weren’t taking themselves as seriously. Yet you can’t help but feel that an online option would have been nice, because of the competitive nature of the game, it just won’t get the play time it could.
The HD upgrade is really well handled for the most part, with the cars, levels and graphics looking fantastic, which has a lot to do with the original game design, the cell shaded styling would have held up on its own, but the extra HD polish gives you a game that looks like you remember, rather than ruining your memories of said game.
The menus and everything away from the gameplay though really could have done with an overhaul. Menus are clunky and feel cheap, giving an initial poor impression of what is to come. As said though, the visuals where it counts are impressive though and must be praised.
There have been some minor changes under the hood, with the most noticeable being the removal of one hit kills, with characters now having an energy bar that must be worn down. It does add a little longevity to each individual event, but at the same time removes the risk vs reward nature of the original. You can now be a lot more aggressive all of the time and not have to worry as much about being hit. This for us meant some of the challenge is now missing, which is a shame.
Cel Damage HD feels a little like a missed opportunity, as it could have been a title that was ripe for a remake and not just a re-release. The visual style could have remained, but new modes, characters and a solid online presence would have been welcome and could have made the game relevant again, as it is, it becomes nothing more than a nice trip down memory lane for those who enjoyed the original.
There is value to be had though, as Cel Damage HD is Cross-Buy across PS4, PS4 and PS Vita and for once it doesn’t really matter which format you play on. Because of the game’s set up, you don’t really feel like you lose anything by focusing on just one and to their credit, the developers have included Cross-Save, which is great to see and again, hopefully something that becomes standard.
Cel Damage HD is a decent game, but one for fans of the original only, it is unlikely to bring new fans, nor change the minds of those who may not have enjoyed it way back when. For a HD remake it is slap bang in the middle of a lazy upgrade and an excellent one and at the end of the day will always feel like a missed opportunity. But for fans there is fun to bed had.