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Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe Hands-On

We play a quick round of this violent, futuristic sports game at BREW 2005.


BREW 2005, San Diego--The newly renamed Glu Mobile has a couple of aces up its sleeve for the remainder of 2005, and one of its biggest comes courtesy of the Bitmap Brothers. The noted indie developer, which was responsible for some very creative (and very strange) games like The Chaos Engine, applied its creative energies to the realm of sports back in the late '80s, which resulted in the fantastically crazy Speedball sports combat games. At a recent Glu event, we tried our hand at a version of Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe, and we found that this futuristic sport hasn't lost any of its charm in the past 15 years or so.

We got to play Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe on a top-shelf Sony Ericsson s710, and the experience reminded us of just how close the latest generation of mobile games really is to providing a console gaming experience. Speedball 2 is essentially a hyped-up version of rugby played by cybernetically enhanced athletes, so it's important that the top-down action moves fluently enough to capture the game's energy level.

We're happy to report that this version of the game passed the test with flying colors. The camera followed the constantly bouncing ball all over the gray, metallic field with nary a hitch. Although, it was often difficult to tell what was going on, because as the players hurtled into each other from all angles, the ball switched possession rapidly, and the sheer amount of activity on the field didn't help to clear things up. The inclusion of a simple directional indicator, and perhaps a more prominent positional highlighter of the ball, ought to fix this problem in a hurry.

Though the elementary nature of the sport might suggest a completely chaotic environment, Speedball 2 isn't actually played in a vacuum--you have to compete against other teams in your league over the course of the season. You have your pick from a number of scary-sounding squads, like the titular Brutal Deluxe, and then you hit the gym to upgrade your players so they'll be competitive. Boosting a particular player's intelligence, attack proficiency, speed, or other attributes costs money, which you earn by winning matches, flattening opposing speedballers, and picking up special onfield tokens. The better teams can quickly pull away from the pack by making clever use of training and by adopting a consistent strategy.

Our quick play-through of Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe brought our killer instinct out from under our mild-mannered veneer in a hurry. But American gamers will have to keep themselves inhibited for a while longer while Glu finalizes development. We hope to bring you a full hands-on preview of this game in a month or two, so stay tuned.

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