Archives by Day

July 2019


Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Green Man Gaming
Developer: Stainless Games
Release Date: Summer 2019


PC Preview - 'ShockRods'

by Cody Medellin on April 26, 2019 @ 2:15 a.m. PDT

ShockRods is a 6v6 or 12-player free-for-all arena shooter, bringing all the blisteringly fast-paced action, mayhem and overpowered weapons expected of a vehicular combat title.

Pre-order ShockRods

For a brief moment, vehicular combat was en vogue. Games like Twisted Metal on the original PlayStation opened the floodgates for others, like Star Wars: Demolition, Rogue Trip and Vigilante 8. By the turn of the century, the genre left, and despite a few attempts, it was never able to be resurrected. Developer Stainless Games, makers of the Carmageddon series, wants to give it another go with an original IP, ShockRods, and we checked it out on the first day of the closed beta.

Before starting ShockRods, you have the option to customize quite a number of things on your vehicle of destruction. The beta includes three body types and five different wheel types, but they're all for aesthetics, as none of them come with different stats. From there, you can customize things like your color trail when using a boost, taunts when you kill, and even your own explosion when you get killed. For a beta, there's a decent amount of available options, but what's interesting is the presence of coins in your account, since nothing can be purchased at the moment.

Once you finish customizing your vehicle, you can participate in one of three different modes, each containing one map. Deathmatch is exactly what you'd expect, and the arena is small, but there's a small pool of lava in the middle of the arena. Capture the Flag has two teams fighting to protect their own flag while trying to capture the opponent's, and this takes place in a decently sized forest with a dam in the middle; it's tempting to try to jump over the dam, despite the fatal fall if you don't make it. Ball mode, which is probably the most boring mode name in a while, plays out similarly to the main mode in Rocket League. The major difference, aside from the presence of weapons and a rather large team, is the fact that the ball sticks to you instead of you punting it ahead of you, so stealing the ball is only possible if you kill the carrier first.

Releasing a vehicular combat game at a time when battle royale titles are the current trend in multiplayer gaming is a gutsy move, as there still might be a decently sized audience looking for this kind of game to make a comeback. What is fascinating, however, is that ShockRods controls nothing like a typical vehicular combat title. You may have a turbo boost, but you'll easily be able to stop on a dime, and there's no way to circle-strafe your opponent at high speeds. Instead, the game is more akin to a third-person shooter, since the maneuverability is tight and aiming is fast.

Your weapons make the game feel like Quake or Unreal Tournament, since you have things like a railgun and a flak cannon, and you can hold multiple weapons at a time, quickly switching between them to accommodate the situation. Power-ups like double damage and increased movement speed are present, and with the ability to jump almost all the time, you'll be spending most of your time doing awkward bunny hops to avoid most ordnance.

On the one hand, this might be too much for those looking for a real car combat title. Without the ability to go around in spacious arenas and power-slide around enemies while blowing them up, some players will feel that ShockRods is just like any other competitive shooter — except without humans shooting and being shot at. On the other hand, it could be appealing for those who want a fast-paced, arena-style shooter without worrying about blood.

For all of the good and odd things that can be said for the game, one thing stood out about the beta: the player base. Namely, it wasn't there. It could be that people are waiting for the full weekend to give it a shot or that the beta is releasing on the eve of the biggest movie of the year, but no matter how long we waited, we didn't get a single player to jump in. That also happened on every server we visited, which made us grateful that matches against AI were included in what is primarily a multiplayer beta.

If the population were present, ShockRods could prove to be a good throwback to the multiplayer games of yesteryear. The early level design is fascinating, and the odd car handling is interesting enough for people who aren't normally interested in vehicular combat, but it can risk alienating other genre fans. Here's hoping that people give it a good look when ShockRods releases this summer.

More articles about ShockRods
blog comments powered by Disqus