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Review: Vroom Kaboom (PS4 Pro)

Racing RTS
4

Poor

There’s this weird fascination that we have with vehicular mayhem. Be it the wanton destruction of stock car demolition derbies, waiting for a spectacular crash in a NASCAR race (don’t lie, that’s why many people watch it) or just driving your car headfirst into some destructible objects in a video game where insurance premiums aren’t a problem. We just love to see those two-ton death machines hurtling to their crumpled demise in a spectacular flash of metal and explosions. Why? Ask a neurologist, I don’t have all the answers.

Vroom Kaboom is a game that wants to combine that with a mish-mash of real-time strategy, a dash of tower defence, some deck building and some racing action. It sounds like a dream formula when you write it like that, but to mix so many things together can be deleterious. Remember when you tried to mix all of the colours of your paints to see what they would turn into and were met with the disappointing end result of brown? That’s a good descriptor of what Vroom Kaboom is.

Vroom vroom etc.

Vroom Kaboom doesn’t ease you into the experience with grace, it throws you into an arena with vague instructions and no explanation of how to do them. You have a hand of cards each representing a vehicle, defensive placement of some kind or a resource generator, each with a cost associated with them. You “play” the card and the corresponding thing appears on the battlefield and in the case of the vehicles, you can take direct control of them.

When I say “take control” I don’t mean it in the sense that you would usually expect from being placed inside a vehicle. Instead, the game throws your vehicle into a lane on the map and it simply follows that lane. You can control which lane your vehicle goes in and that’s how you more or less “steer”. It’s pretty counter-intuitive and a simple option of allowing a player to freely control their vehicle would have made it a lot more tolerable because guiding your vehicles in this way is akin to a rally driver’s waking nightmare.

Usually, the biggest challenge was keeping myself awake throughout the missions.

The objective is to take out your enemy’s oil refinery on the opposite side of the battlefield and you do that by turning your vehicles into kamikaze machines that drive straight into the heart of your foe to achieve a glorious death. I’m not even kidding, you can’t stop your vehicles and they have no choice but to go into that good night. The meat of the action takes place in between where you need to manage the cards in your hand as well as gather resources to use those cards.

Resources are scattered around the battlefield and you need to collect them in order to use your cards. It’s a delicate balance of putting out offensive units to destroy your enemy and nimble units in order to get resources. You’ll also be duking it out on the battlefield by ramming into enemy cars, shooting enemies using jets and helicopters, throwing in some kamikaze bikes and jumping around with police cars. It’s all rather silly.

Ready, set, oh no

There’s also a deckbuilding mechanic in the game where you can craft your offensive and defensive line-up as well as getting new cards by, and I hate to say this, loot boxes upon levelling up. You also get a meagre amount of scraps that you can use to craft cards, but to complete your collection would take weeks of grinding. There are also three different factions that you can use each with their own aesthetic. One is a Mad Max-inspired faction, the other is Japanese Tune and the final one is urban vehicles.

Each faction has 15 missions to complete with each subsequent mission being slightly more difficult and you also get paired up with AI that are in the fight with you. The three vs three matches get particularly chaotic, but I never had a problem winning any of these missions. It was a breezy cakewalk throughout the campaigns and usually, the biggest challenge was keeping myself awake throughout the mission. And this is where the game ultimately fails.

Everything feels so budget and half-baked that it genuinely feels like a student project.

The premise is fantastic, the elements are there, but it just fails on so many levels. It’s not engaging whatsoever and you just mindlessly go through the motions. The charm wears off in the first few missions and there’s nothing else that the game has going for it. It looks bland, the soundtrack is as generic as it gets and the announcer is so annoying that I turned him off after the second mission. Everything feels so budget and half-baked that it genuinely feels like a student project. Even the main menu font looks like it was downloaded from a free font website.

There is online multiplayer, but I couldn’t find a single person playing it for the duration of my time with the game. There’s also a VR mode which was somewhat interesting, but it’s mainly just the base game with even worse visuals and clunkier controls. If you bought the game on the promise of its VR potential, then you’ll be sorely disappointed as there are a plethora of better PSVR games out there at the moment.

Gone in a second

Given a lot of refinement, a lot more polish and an overhaul of the controls, this could have been a game well worth recommending. But in its current state, I can’t think of any reason for you to buy this. It’s a crying shame because the game has the potentia, but it was squandered with bad design and just sheer boredom from the lack of variety. Rather give this one a skip.

Good

  • Interesting premise and mixture of genres

Bad

  • Looks bland
  • Novelty runs out extremely fast
  • I wanted to murder the announcer
  • Not enough variety in the content
  • Multiplayer is a ghost town
  • PSVR version is not worth it

Summary

Vroom Kaboom had a winning formula and its eclectic mixture of deck building, tower defence and vehicular mayhem sounded like something out of an adrenaline junky's dream journal. But the game falls short in almost every category and proves that if you want to be everything, you'll just end up being nothing.
4

Poor

I am way too tall, played way too many games and I love to write about what we love about games. In the end, I'm just being #Thabolicious

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