This product was reviewed on a PlayStation 4, in both normal and VR modes, and is also available on PC, with support for PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. A code was provided for review purposes.
Note: Two PS Move controllers are required for PlayStation VR gameplay.
Vroom Kaboom is in a bent genre of its own; Tower rush with vehicles. The objective is use a various array of vehicles and weaponry to destroy your opponent’s oil towers. You “play” your vehicles by using cards in your hand. Playing more than one card allows the AI to take over and guide itself along the path to your opponent’s tower in attempt to damage it as much as possible. Control your vehicles(or weaponry) yourself, and you’ll discover that each type has unique abilities to aid you along the way. You can choose from 3 different factions, each of which have exclusive deployment options with unique abilities, as well as various customization options for your Avatar.
Being a mash-up of tower rush and card-based strategy, gameplay in Vroom Kaboom is fairly simple, if you’re already experienced with that type of game. The ‘Single Player’ mode features 3 options: Training, Campaign, and Quick Match. The Training option drops you into a map with a list of main objectives and secondary objectives, but offers no explanation of the various types of icons your deployments can obtain.
Campaign features what is likely the most action you will see. Each of the 3 factions has their own campaign. Each faction’s campaign contains 15 missions, all with varying objectives and side objectives. Quick Match will allow you to start up a game as either a Duel, 2v2, or 3v3. The 2v2 and 3v3 games will pit you and a teammate(or teammates) against a team of AI opponents.
The Online portion of the game offers the same options as a single player Quick Match. You can Duel, or make it a team game with 2v2 or 3v3, but with and against other players. The silver lining here is that, if enough players to fill a lobby aren’t found, you can fill the empty slots with AI teammates, and proceed with your online game. A “Custom Game” option is also present. With this, you can create your own Online match, which allows you to pick the map you want to play, or to make the game a Private Match.
During a match, your goal is to destroy the enemy teams oil reserves. Cards from your deck are loaded into your hand. You start the match with a set amount of Oil and Fuel, both of which are resources required to play your cards. Different cards require different values of these resources. Playing a card will place that card on the road. You can play as many cards as you want, granted you have the resources to use them. Once you’ve played your cards, you can swap between your active units at the press of a button. The AI will take over other active units and guide them to the objective, or to counter enemy units.
When controlling your own units, you can collect various resources in the field. These range from extra Oil and Fuel for playing cards, to extra cards for your hand. You can also collect Mines, which add to the damage your unit deals when it collides with the enemies’ units or oil reserves. All vehicles, and some weaponry, such as Missles, have a Nitro ability. Using Nitro will boost your unit’s speed, but with a cooldown. Nitro boost will also add some extra collision damage. Certain units have unique abilities, such as Resource Magnet, Ram, or Jump. Unique faction units tend to have abilities only found in that faction.
Guiding your units is done with simple “lane changes”. Flicking the analog stick to the left or right will move your unit 1 lane in that direction. Holding a certain direction will move the unit through more than one lane. At times, the controls present problems. I’ve attempted to change lanes once, only to watch my unit keep changing lanes and collide into an enemy unit, or the environment itself, causing me to waste resources and Mines.
The enemy AI presents another challenge. It’ll push forward, forcing you to strategize with your units a bit. Playing more than 1 unit at a time will enable you to have some protection as you attempt to travel to the enemy oil reserves. However, enemy vehicles equipped with weapons, such as turrets, have perfect accuracy. This can make getting high damaging units, such as Missles, to the oil reserves completely frustrating.
Upon achieving victory in a match, players are rewarded with experience to their next rank. Losing matches, though, removes experience, and can eventually lessen your rank. This ranking system applies to both the Single Player and Online portions of the game. It’s an annoying aspect of an already frustrating experience. Players are also awarded with Crates, which, when opened, can contain new card, or Scrap. Scrap is a currency used only for purchasing new cards, making it obsolete after a certain point.
VR owners can connect their headset and enjoy this game too. The game seems a bit more user-friendly in VR. Being that it’s virtual reality, the visuals pop a bit more, thanks to the camera angle of VR, making the experience a bit more intuitive and immersive. The downside is that VR support is limited to Single Player, or 1v1 Duels online.
With 3 different factions comes the most variety in the game. In addition to having different unit possibilities, each faction has it’s own maps and background music. These subtle changes in visuals and audio make a mostly bland experience a bit more appealing.
One factor of the visuals that I can appreciate is the destruction. When your unit collides with an enemy unit hard enough, or while packing Mines, the units can be destroyed in a fiery explosion. Debris from the wreck is left lying on the road. However, your other deployed units can be effected by this. At times, my vehicles would barely bump a piece of debris from a previous crash, only to explode, or get knocked off course into an environmental hazard.
The music, while having a bit of variety between the factions, will eventually get repetitive. The game features a bit of a laugh factor in the form of an announcer. A loud, booming voice often commentates on the action with one liners, even occasional insults toward the player. Unfortunately his repertoire of jokes quickly becomes stale once you hear the same lines 3 to 4 times in a match.
Players looking for a unique strategy game might find some fun here. Certain audiences might even be drawn in by the destructive factor. For VR users, it’s a severely limited, but interesting experience. For non-VR players though, aside from tower rush fans, or those looking for some sort of strategy game, Vroom Kaboom is better left forgotten.
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