Part Two of our EGX Rezzed hands-on previews looks at Tate Multimedia’s Steel Rats, Easy Trigger’s Huntdown and SEGA’s Mega Drive Classics Collection.
Steel Rats is a bit of an oddity in the vehicular combat genre because unlike any of its peers, it’s played on a 2.5D plane. Set along 2 parallel lanes, you drive a bike left and right and can shift between the lanes, up and down, with a fluidness between them. This isn’t just a lane racer with the bike snapping between them – there’s leeway between and around the 2 planes so you can navigate the full horizontal plane with ease. It’s a relatively intuitive system that takes a little getting used to but feels sublime once you get your head around it. In the game you play as a bike gang called the Steel Rats (obvs) that are investigating the sudden appearance of junk robots that have sprung up and are terrorising the area.
You can switch between the 4 members of the bike gang on the fly, each of whom have unique abilities – e.g. the character Flames can wheel spin until her back type sets on fire than leaves a trail of flames in her wake- but can all cut enemies asunder with the deadly front wheel of their bike. There’s a real satisfying feeling to carving a pipe, a railway sleeper and a robot in 2 with the bike itself. The final game will have a number of different environments from forests to cityscapes, some of which will have branching paths that will pose their own challenges and mini-bosses too. Even at this early stage of development, the game looks great and is a true curio, mixing Trials with Streets of Rage in a retro-futuristic setting.
I’m expecting big things when Steel Rats launches later this year on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
While I was at the Steel Rats booth, a PR rep said “Have you tried out Huntdown? It’s great”. I hadn’t but it sounded right up my alley so I made my way over to the ID@Xbox booth and they were right, it really is great. In it you play as a grizzled bounty hunters who tracks down criminals and takes them out. Huntdown is an arcade shooter reminiscent of the greats from the late 80’s, early 90’s like Robocop meets Bad Dudes Vs DragonNinja. It’s played in 2D plane but with platforms you can jump too and hidey holes for foes to pop in and out from. Played on a big screen, I really got to appreciate the pixel artistry that has gone in to this game, it’s retro cyberpunk style and the animation. There was quite a lot of world building in the level I played too with the gaps between combat filled with nods to the sci-fi aesthetic.
The most surprising aspect of Huntdown was the cover mechanic which wasn’t explained in the demo (I expect it’ll be detailed in the full game however) but really changed the way the game played. I was struggling to take down some of the punk villains at first but once I figured out I could crouch behind barrels and crates than pop up to take a shot, the game had a much more tactical feel to it. It was still a challenge – the game is self-described as “hard-boiled arcade shooter” so don’t expect that to change – but it no longer felt like I was flailing and jumping around to try and stay alive and could start to see how enjoyable this game could be in co-op, advancing while your partner gives you covering fire before popping into cover to cover your partner. Huntdown is certainly one I want to see more of when it guns its way onto Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC this year. You can add it to your Steam wish list here.
SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive Classics
I think the SEGA Mega Drive (or Genesis, if you’re from across the pond) Classics Collection was always a day one purchase for me from the second it was announced. I think it probably was for a large portion of gamers old enough to have owned SEGA’s greatest console (sorry Dreamcast, you come a close second). Even though I’ve owned many of the games in the collection umpteen times before across a myriad platforms, I’m still raring to give them another go. It was pleasing then to give some of my favourites a test on the Rezzed show floor. Yes, they’re still very good. Much like the PS3/Xbox 360 ports of some of these games, they’re presented in their original aspect ratio with themed borders filling the rest of the screen. There’s a retro inspired 3D menu too, with a CRT TV sat in the corner, a bookcase filled with the Mega Drive boxes and an oh-so-satisfying animation of the cartridge being slid into the console. It was a “blow on the bottom of the cart, just to be be sure” animation away from transporting me back to my early teens.
The games themselves look and play brilliantly. I played Comix Zone, one of my old school favourites, and quickly discovered that using a thumb stick is not the way to go with that game. I played Vectorman which still had that bit at the start where you could mess with the SEGA logo. I even enjoyed playing Sonic Spinball on a big screen. While it’s still a little disappointing that some games are notably missing from this collection (Sonic 3, why?) I feel reassured that this collection of classics is being treated with the care and attention they deserve.