Luxoflux, the developer responsible for Vigilante 8, is working on a new arena-based vehicular combat game, this time set in the Star Wars universe, taking place sometime between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Star Wars: Demolition Racer will attempt to set up Return of the Jedi with a completely original storyline, all while providing plenty of vehicular carnage.
The story goes something like this: The Empire has outlawed pod racing, and now nobody has any real sport to gamble on, so in an effort to attract more business to his casinos, crime boss Jabba the Hutt organizes a series of brutal vehicular-destruction contests. Several vehicles are tossed in an arena littered with weapons, combat droids, and power-ups, and they are pitted against each other until only one vehicle remains. The game will have three basic modes - arcade mode, survival mode, and quest mode. The arcade mode is a simple pick-up-and-play-style mode, while the object of the survival mode is to stay alive as long as you can against the endless stream of enemies. The quest mode is the real meat of the game, as your selected character goes through a series of battles, with cutscenes that explain his or her unique storyline as you progress through the game's levels.
The gameplay isn't much different from every other vehicular combat game on the market. You pilot your vehicle around an arena, firing weapons and your main blasters at just about anything that gets in your way. You'll also benefit from power-ups like shields, cloaking devices, and speed boosts. Star Wars: Demolition Racer has a pick-up-and-play feel because it's been simplified down to the bare essentials. There are four weapons - you can have only one at any given time - and the interface has been toned down a bit.[ Though there are only four weapons, the special weapons and your blasters can be charged to four different power levels before they're fired. While this shakes up the gunfire aspect of the game a bit, it doesn't give you the feeling of having multiple weapons.
Vehicular combat games are only as good as the vehicles in them, and thankfully Demolition Racer is plum full of cool-looking craft. The game features a total of 13 vehicles, some of which are hidden at the outset of the game. The vehicles look just like their movie counterparts, and they represent a diverse variety of different craft and creatures found in the Star Wars universe. There's the rancor armed with huge shoulder-mounted blaster cannons, the quick and lightly armored swoop, Luke's landspeeder, and even an AT-ST.
The graphics in Demolition Racer are about on par with Vigilante 8: Second Offense. The arenas are realistic and detailed, and the vehicle models themselves look very good. However, some of the effects, such as fire and blaster discharges, need a little tuning before the final game ships. The game's sound effects were fairly accurate, and the music was in tune with the Star Wars musical feel. While John Williams composed none of the game's musical tracks, the music was inspired by his work on the movie's soundtracks.
While Star Wars: Demolition Racer doesn't have the most groundbreaking premise for a Star Wars game, it is a solid shooter with an interesting storyline, and it is built on a familiar game engine. Though the game won't ship until this holiday season, Star Wars: Demolition Racer already looks good enough to appeal to not only fans of Star Wars but also to those looking for some hot vehicular combat action.