New Game Review Virtual Reality

Review – Vroom Kaboom (PSVR)

Mad Max meets Tower Defense.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into with Vroom Kaboom, but I was told it was going to be a Twisted Metal type game. Alright, I like Twisted Metal and it has a PSVR mode? Nice, sign me up! To my surprise, Vroom Kaboom isn’t as much Twisted Metal as it is a tower defense card game mash-up that uses vehicles. That isn’t exactly a bad thing for it is fairly unique genre mash-up that has some real promise, but isn’t exactly polished.

Like mentioned above Vroom Kaboom is a tower defense game with vehicles where you build a deck of various cars to take down your opponent’s towers. There isn’t much of a story, but it does feature three different factions whom all have their own campaign and unique vehicles to collect. SkullBorough look like your typical Mad Max style cars all covered in rust with crazy welded on weapons and spikes. Drift City are your stylish sports cars and Soul Station are your low rider muscle cars.

Vroom Kaboom
In the garage you can check out all the unique car designs.

While each faction has their own campaign, they all play out very similarly since the objective always remains the same. I feel like having three factions isn’t so much for mission variety as it is for the player to pick through their favorite type of vehicles. There isn’t much reason to play all campaigns unless you really want to collect every card in the game. You can easily swap between factions so if you’re getting tired of the makeshift cars with the Skullborough’s you can swap to the more futuristic cars with Drift City.

The gameplay is rather simple, but there is a little learning curve since the tutorial isn’t all that in depth. You start off with a basic deck of cards that has a decent variety of low and high level cards. Start off by selecting a vehicle and placing it on one of the map pathways and the car will follow that path to the enemies towers. The maps all have pre determined paths with a couple of side paths to collect some resource items or bombs. Once you set the car down you then have the option to take control of the vehicle. Essentially all this means is you can swap between driveable paths and use the vehicles power move on command. For instance the smaller cars can jump or shift lanes quickly to avoid oncoming cars or missiles. The tank you can aim manually to shoot other cars or the enemies tower. You also have the options to play in first person mode, but without full control of the car it feels lackluster.

Vroom Kaboom
After leveling up you will be able to open a loot box for various rewards.

The real benefit of controlling the car yourself is that the AI are rather dumb. They will run into their own teammates slower cars blowing each other up and won’t maneuver  around to pick up items. So you’ll want to take control and collect some resource items so you can keep sending out more cars. Each car uses up oil reserves and some of the higher level cars or special cars will use fire (or something similar). Besides picking up resources you will also want to pick up bombs that are around that way when you suicide crash your car into the opponents base it will do more damage.

In some of the harder missions you will need to be a bit more strategic with your car selections. While in the easier levels you can achieve victory by just throwing everything you have at your opponent, the later levels will require some better timing. Send out your bulldozer to absorb a lot of the damage and ram a few enemy cars off the road while you follow up the rear in a tank blasting other cars and the enemy tower. After things are cleared you can follow up with more of your fast lower HP cars. You’ll also want to take control of the faster maneuvering cars to collect more resources while your bigger cars do the battling.

Vroom Kaboom
You can customize your faction avatars, but you’ll only see them briefly during the opening of a match.

Now for my main gripes. I already mentioned how dumb the AI is, but to elaborate on that a little: sometimes your cars won’t even change lanes to hit the enemy base making themselves drive past them wasting a car. There is no option to stop, slow down, or turn around so they will often run into each other and blow up, or run directly into an oncoming armored bus. Even when you’re controlling the cars there are frustrations in hit detection. When you change lanes the cars will often fish tail around and if they glance on the side of a wall they will stop, get stuck, and then eventually blow up.

For the PS4 release they did include PSVR support, which I think is awesome even if it is the weaker way to play the game. The game play remains the same, but now you’re a little but more immersed in the world. You will swap out the controller for the wands, but I honestly think the controller is the preferred way to play anyway. Changing lanes can sometimes be finicky with the motion controls, you’ll need to aim your gun instead of them auto locking on and the main wand gets a decent amount of tracking drift with no way to re-calibrate. They also removed the first person driving option for PSVR, which I feel defeats the purpose of having it in VR. Not only that, but of course the visuals are going to take a hit in PSVR since it will have a lot more aliasing issues.

The visuals outside of PSVR are decent, but nothing exactly stands out vividly. Each factions all has their own unique look which are all well done. They also all have their own unique maps as well as avatars that you can customize, but you will only see once at the beginning of the round. While it’s by no means ugly, there just isn’t anything outstanding about its visual style. This also goes for its sound design. The soundtrack is decent and each faction has their own styled music, but the cars, explosions, and general effects can be low quality. Also, the announcer can be downright annoying at times, especially when you’re launching a bunch of cars at once.

While Vroom Kaboom wasn’t exactly what I was told to expect, I am glad it was something more unique, even if it wasn’t all that engaging. If you’re a fan of tower defense games and deck building, there is a lot of content to be had here even with an online mode and custom mode you can play up to 3v3 with bots. Hopefully a few patches are on the way to fix some of the AI, hit detection issues, and some general improvements to the VR mode because Vroom Kaboom could be another successful genre mash-up game.

 

Graphics: 7.0

The car designs are unique, but the overall visual style can be lackluster.

Gameplay: 6.0

For the most part the controls work well, but the AI isn’t all that smart and plenty of general annoyances.

Sound: 7.0

The car sound effects are hit and miss and the announcer can get annoying. However, the soundtrack is decent.

Fun Factor: 6.5

With three factions that each have their own campaigns there is a decent amount of content. However, there isn’t much variety as the missions are all the same tower defense style.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Vroom Kaboom is available now on PC and PS4.

A copy of Vroom Kaboom was provided by the publisher.

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Our resident Californian ginger, also one of the only ones on the team who has a family (aka life). When he’s not taking care of sick kids he’s playing games with a wife who’s just as much a gamer as him or actually reviewing them for us, making him a valuable member of the team. Even if he’s pretty much stolen all our souls. His favorites include Dark Souls, Fallout 2, Majora’s Mask, and Shadow of the Colossus.

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