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Vroom, Vroom, Kaboom: BlazeRush

In a future where bulletproof tires are invented, there is only war.

"Don't worry, our races are all safe" advises the tutorial-spouting character of isometric destructo-racer BlazeRush, shortly before I strafe his car with a 12 foot minigun, sending him spiraling off the track into an explosion-punctuated death fall. He respawns at the back of the pack, naturally. All safe, you see? And fast, hectic, sprinkled nicely with over the top cartoon violence. Power ups litter tracks, laps take 30 seconds or less and cars shunt each other around with exceedingly low regard for the laws of physics. It came out this last week and I've had a surprising amount of fun with the first hour or so.

Within seconds of starting a race, chances are you will have forced someone off the clifflike edges of a track, jet-boosted your way into first or taken a giant saw blade to the rear. It's that sort of game - immediate, quick and easy to jump into. Singleplayer is a standard affair, a series of races and challenges awarding "cups" which unlock more. From what I played, the challenges came in two flavours: time trials with infinite boost and a more exotic sprint away from an always accelerating death-roller. Whenever someone dies everyone else gets a point and there are no respawns until only one person remains, the winner being whoever has the most at the end of the round where someone reaches 15.

It's functional as a solo game, as constant progression and unlocks of new weapons and cars fuel (ha haaaaa) the racing. Where I expect the game shines most is local multiplayer. I'll be testing this out at an upcoming LAN party, but it's obviously designed with shoulder-barging and a shared monitor in mind. There's enough catch-up mechanics and chaos on screen at any one time, even with just four participants rather than the maximum of eight, that it's impossible to have one player dominate. Not that it's totally skill-free - taking good racing lines, using weapons intelligently and knowing the best points to knock people off are all rewarded. If getting others round your place is a difficulty, it's playable online as well.

As this excellent Steam user review points out, it's reminiscent of the similar and similarly priced Mashed. It looks like the beloved Rock 'n' Roll Racing, too.

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