Joystiq hands-on: Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars


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Say it with us now: Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. Kind of makes your mouth hurt, doesn't it? We're not sure exactly what Psyonix was thinking when it chose that name for its first PSN title, but our early in-person glimpse of the game makes us want to forgive and move on.

Running on Unreal Engine 3 (in fact, Psyonix was responsible for the popular Onslaught game type in the Unreal Tournament series) the game is, by both the developer's account and our own, a mix of car combat and soccer. Strange, we know, but it all makes sense – and looks quite fun – when the action commences.
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What really serves to set Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars (SARP from here on out) apart from just about every other vehicle-based game is its core control mechanic: the ability to make your car "dodge" in any direction using a combination of a boost jump – yes, there's a double jump – and the left analog stick. This ability is crucial to knocking the ball into the goal on each of the game's three levels (more are planned; Psyonix tells us they'll likely be free DLC).

Watching cars pull off bicycle kicks is as odd as it sounds, but also as unique. The rest of the gameplay ... eh, not so stand-outish, but still solid looking. You can boost around the field, increasing velocity until your car goes supersonic (hence that chapter of the title) and gains the ability to obliterate other cars. In order to keep the pace fittingly frantic, the designers have kept respawn times to an absolute minimum, but getting walloped smarts nevertheless.



In addition to a single-player tournament mode, the game will boast 20 mini-games that look to exploit every possible trick the cars can perform. PlayStation Trophies are already implemented, with about half of them earned via the mini-games (although the sole gold trophy is earned by scoring a mere 500 goals online). Speaking of which, the game will support four-on-four network matches, voice headset chat, and the ability to register two-person teams and compete alongside a buddy in ranked online games.

As is becoming more common in PS3 titles, you'll be able to capture every SARP-y moment for uploading to YouTube. Psyonix estimates that roughly 10 minutes of footage can be stored and tweaked in the replay editor at any given time, which should be plenty given that the average match lasts about five minutes.

SARP looks fun enough; the real test here will be repeat play. We reckon that Sony must be busy retrofitting the PlayStation Store to accommodate the game's XXL-length title on-screen. It will have until "early fall" to do so ... hey, isn't that like now?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.