Release Date: October 9, 2008
Psyonix Studios' Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars for the PlayStation Network isn't exactly a title that you can say three times fast, but given the developer's pedigree, you should definitely be paying attention. Psyonix developed the Onslaught game type in Unreal Tournament 2004, provided assistance with vehicles in Gears of War and Unreal Tournament 3, and ported Monster Madness: Grave Danger to the PS3. Since they know their way around the Unreal Engine and one of the devs is a huge soccer fan, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, which combines the Unreal Engine and soccer, seemed to be a logical development choice.
Supersonic is essentially a game of soccer in which you're a vehicle that battles against other vehicles, and everyone tries to kick the soccer ball into the opposing team's goal. Three maps are included in the game — a modern cityscape, a sunny Utopian garden, and a desert — although Psyonix was thinking of providing a free map via downloadable content when the game launches. You start off with two vehicles, but you can unlock five more vehicles by playing through the mini-games mode. There are two initial skins for each vehicle, but, again, that number may also increase with DLC.
There are three game modes — single-player, mini-games and tournament — and a tutorial. The 20 mini-games are displayed in five rows of four, and after you complete a row, you also unlock a new vehicle. The mini-games include Combustible, where you demolish as many of the enemy's vehicles as possible, and Territory, where you must score more goals than your opponent without ever crossing the half-field mark. In Tournament mode, you'll encounter more difficult AI.
It's a cinch to get accustomed to the controls in Supersonic, but it'll take a while to truly hone your techniques. The R2 button controls your vehicle's acceleration, the L2 button lets you stop or go in reverse, the X button is for jumping, the Circle button controls your boost, the Square button controls quick turns, and the Triangle button controls your camera angle. Those are the basics, but you can also try different buttons for some fancy wheelwork, such as dodging, when you're in mid-air.
As you drive around the map during your five-minute match, you'll notice little yellow areas on the ground. Drive over those yellow areas, and your vehicle's boost bar fills up a bit. If you ram a yellow vial, your boost meter will fill up completely. Once your boost meter has filled up enough, you tap the Circle button to unleash supersonic speed and crash into your opponents to force them to respawn.
Although speeding across the large arenas can be a lot of fun, the objective is to prevent the opponent from scoring any points on your goal, while you score as many points as possible on his goal. Unlike more arcade-style titles that would let you launch a ball into the goal with a simple button combination, you have to learn how to position your vehicle just so in Supersonic before kicking the ball. It makes for a more personal and rewarding experience. The arenas are pretty sizeable, so you can tap the Triangle button to switch to the ball cam, which is always fixed on the ball. If you prefer to stick with the default over-the-shoulder view, a small cone icon in front of your car will always notify you of the location of the ball. Additionally, when a point is scored, the goal explodes and pushes back all nearby vehicles in a fiery blaze. The devs said that this occurs, "just because."
At the end of each match, you'll get statistics such as assists, awards, shots, touches, etc. If you want to, you can watch a replay of your entire match, edit and upload it to YouTube, or save to your PS3 hard drive. The video will have a higher resolution if it's saved to your PS3 hard drive, but if you choose to go the YouTube route, the game will upload it directly to YouTube for you. The video editing system lets you speed up or slow down the video, zoom in or out, choose different camera angles, adjust the timeline, set timepoints, etc. Since it records the match from all angles, you could choose to show the same goal from multiple perspectives. If you get carried away, your video could end up being longer than the actual match itself!
Supersonic has Trophy support, with half of them available from playing on your own, and the other half based on online play. While you win by scoring goals, you'll also need to pay attention to the number of stars that you collect, with a maximum of five per match. You gain stars based on the number of goals that you managed to score over your opponent, so if you won with a score of 6-1, you've scored five more points than the other team, and as a result, you gain five stars. Some mini-games are time-based, so you start off with five stars, and the number decreases as time passes.
Multiplayer mode is played in split-screen, and it provides a simple drop-in, drop-out system. Supersonic supports a maximum of eight players, so you can play two-versus-two up to four-versus-four, with the players being any combination of bots, players and online players. Playing in ranked matches will get you on the game's leaderboards.
With the video editor and interaction with YouTube, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars has all that it needs to generate and foster a loyal community following. We're hoping that there's enough interest so the developers can make more environments, modes and cars for increased destruction, mayhem and GOOOOOOOOOALS.
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