In the interactive entertainment industry, when one type of game becomes successful, everyone else wants a piece of the action. This is the reason behind the dozens of team based first person shooters that have come out in the last few years. This is also the reason we are currently seeing so many games dedicated to being a criminal in a huge, highly interactive city. There are also hundreds of racing games out there that were developed to not only cash in on an established idea or the current trends, but they were designed simply because racing games are relatively easy games to create. Whether creating a racing game or something else, game development seems to follow two different creative processes. You can either create something completely new, or you can do what Professor Frink once said and "take an established product and put a clock in it", not really coming up with anything new but managing to make a unique game anyway.
Coming in 2003 from Polish developer Ganymede Technologies, Armobiles is a racing game that combines standard racing, adventure game style item collection, a stunt mode, car combat, and a destruction derby all into one game. The game feels like a cross between Twisted Metal, San Francisco Rush, with a little bit of Re-Volt thrown in for good measure. Armobiles manages to pull all of these different types of gameplay into a game that is not only fresh, but also rather fun.
Lap mode is a standard race where you have to pass through checkpoints scattered throughout each level. The collection mode requires you to collect items strewn all over each area in a certain amount of time. The stunt mode takes place in arenas full of ramps and jumps that allow you to get huge air and perform some amazing aerial auto acrobatics. There are also two weapon-based modes. One mode requires you to destroy turrets in each level before they destroy you. The other weapon-based mode is a standard car combat mode where machine guns, missiles, and everything else you'd expect are put to good use against other vehicles. There is also a destruction derby mode that places you in a confined arena for car destruction matches both with and without weapons. Some missions will offer combinations of these modes, such as a mission where you have to complete three laps around the track while destroying fifteen turrets.
Right now it looks like there will only be six cars available in Armobiles, which is a bit of a bummer. Each car is uniquely styled and has different statistics for max speed, acceleration, durability, weight, and drivability (handling). The vehicles range from four different types of sports cars to a police car that looks like a minivan to a heavily modified Formula 1 look-alike. The cars feature four wheel steering, something that takes a bit to get used to, but they generally control very well.
The tracks on offer span the world and the track designs overall are pretty good. Locations include the desert of Nevada, an abandoned city in Alaska, Loch Ness in Scotland, a glacier in Switzerland, and even the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
At this early stage, the graphics are looking pretty good. The cars are all great looking and feature sharp textures and the environments are big and look good so far. The cars feature real time damage and also can lay down a pretty thick layer of rubber when you punch the turbo and start spinning cookies. The special effects for the weapons and explosions are also looking quite good at this stage. The recommended specs for Armobiles are fairly steep; so expect the graphics to be pretty decent when the game comes out next year. The game also moves along at a decent frame rate, something that is absolutely vital in arcade racing games that are trying to convey a great sense of speed.
Car combat fans and racing fans in general, keep your eyes peeled for Armobiles. It takes all of the gameplay modes we have grown to love and slaps them all together into one game. The various modes of play, as well as the missions that combine modes, keep the game from feeling too repetitive. Online play is going to be implemented and should be fun. Car combat games just seem to shine in multiplayer, so no matter how the single player game turns out, the multiplayer matches should still be pretty fun. Hopefully, Armobiles won't stray too far from its current path and will deliver a unique, fresh single player game along with a good multiplayer mode.
Look for Armobiles sometime in 2003.