Card collecting, vehicular combat and tower defense – they’re not three things you’d typically expect to see together, right? Well, Vroom Kaboom amalgamates the three into one genre-mashing experience and it makes for a surprisingly fun albeit short-lived free-to-play experience.
I should probably point out that this review focuses on the PlayStation VR mode of Vroom Kaboom. This means no first-person viewpoint, a lower graphic quality, and only one-on-one battles. Still, the extra immersion offered by the headset made the experience all the more fun and made it feel like I was actually there playing with a bunch of toy cars… sure, that might sound odd, but it’s surprisingly effective in-game.
The aim of Vroom Kaboom is to lead a bunch of cars down a road in order to blast away at your enemy’s base. You can do this by unloading upon it with weapons or by smashing your car into it, so there are a couple of options at hand. You’ll drive towards the base on a multi-lane road, with the player able to switch lanes freely as they look to collect weapons and energy or avoid any incoming vehicles that might be coming their way to smash up their own base (tower DEFENSE, remember). You can also lay traps, set up defences, and even take down those incoming enemies as opposed to avoiding them – it follows the same routine as attacking bases, with either weapons or a head on collision proving the best means to wipe them out. Best of all, you can do this whilst the AI controls your vehicles, and whilst the AI might not necessarily be the smartest it does make for a more streamlined experience where you don’t find yourself overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. The structure itself is pretty arcade-like and fun, though Vroom Kaboom has a few strategic elements in place too.
One of these comes with the game’s card-collecting set up. Your vehicles and defences are presented in a card form, and whilst you start out with a fairly standard deck you’ll eventually build it up by earning more powerful cards from competing in and winning matches, both in the fairly limited single player mode and online battles against other players.
Each card requires a certain amount of energy from the player to use, so collecting it during matches and also balancing out its usage is vital to success. Do you go for a bunch of smaller vehicles or instead focus on one big one? Do you keep enough energy to focus on defending or do you go for an all-out attack? Whilst Vroom Kaboom might seem silly and a little dumb from the outside, there’s a surprising amount of strategy to it with different cards and vehicles proving more effective in different situations thanks to their varying abilities and stats.
It makes for an experience that’s pretty fun, with the blend of tower defense and vehicular combat making for a nice little combination. It’s certainly a unique game, but one that where you have to think as strategically as you do destructively if you want to find success – on paper it feels like it shouldn’t work, but it comes together nicely and is a pleasant surprise to play.
However, whilst I did enjoy playing Vroom Kaboom, I grew tired of it fast with a lack of depth to the overall experience showing its face after a few hours play. It’s not that I got bored or anything, but that I felt like I’d seen everything it had to offer. Still, it’s a free-to-play game so you don’t have to pay to play it whilst the grind to earn content may well be enough to keep some players hooked in for longer.
It’s worth noting that whilst Vroom Kaboom’s concept is simple on paper, actually learning how to play properly is a bit of a pain. There’s very little in the form of a dedicated tutorial in the game, with players pretty much thrown in the deep end and simply told what to do but not how to do it. It took me a good hour of playing before I grasped how exactly to play the game, which might not seem like too long but is probably long enough to put some players off – especially if they’re playing the free-to-play version of the game. Given how unique of an amalgamation of genres the game is, this is definitely something that the developers will want to address in a future update. (Note – the developers have since released video tutorials teach players how to play which you can check out through this link.)
When playing in VR, you can only use two Move controllers with the Dualshock only available during standard play. It’s actually a little bit awkward at first and Vroom Kaboom is probably better suited for the Dualshock – sure, using Move controllers allows you to make snappier decisions when having to react to things quickly, but having access to more buttons and the analogue sticks can feel more accessible at times. You get used to it fast so it isn’t a big problem, but just know you’ll need two Move controllers available if you want to play in VR.
It might seem like an odd combination, but putting together a convoy of vehicles from a card deck and using them to smash up your enemy’s base is a surprising amount of fun. Sure, it can lose its charm after a few hours play, but there’s definitely a good time to be had with Vroom Kaboom’s hectic gameplay.
Add to that the fact that it’s free-to-play and it’s easy to see that it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a PlayStation VR owner. There’s no guarantee that you’ll want to upgrade to the premium edition nor that you’ll stay with it long enough to unlock all of its content, but Vroom Kaboom offers enough enjoyment to justify more than a few hours of your time – well, once you’ve learned how to play it that is…
Developer: Ratloop Games Canada
Publisher: Ratloop Games Canada
Format(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PC