Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
Cel Damage is like a guilty pleasure in life, you know it is bad for you or it's not that good, but at the same time you can't help but enjoy it. This is a game that was brushed by on by the public, possibly due to negative reviews, and also possibly due to it's design itself.
The premise, take 2 parts Twisted Medal, 1 part Vigilante 8, 1 part Jet Grind Radio, and 1 part Looney Toons. what do you get, this underrated game!
Despite it being from 2001, Cel Damage is quite possibly the best cel shaded game in existance. Even better than Wind Waker it seems like. The game runs on a strong engine, one that was so unique at the time it was featured in Science News Online in January of 2002. The game feels like a real cartoon, looks like a real cartoon, and plays like a real cartoon. Quite frankly, it is the best cartoon game ever made. Even if the game sucked, the graphics are top notch, the framerate never faulters, and the design team makes me feel like this is a long episode of Looney Toons! Good job guys!
Final Score- B+
Cel Damage has 3 modes of play, all of which were standard at the time, but pretty thin now a days. We have the deathmatch mode, which is the most fun of the 3, if not the most repetitive. You basically whack the crap out of the other toons with axes, bats, harpoons, fireballs, whips, chainsaws, and other weapons to gain points. The first to 500 wins!
While it may take a long time to do this, it also takes a long time to complete. Cel Damage is a challenging game, even for the most hardcore fans of racing and auto-fighting. The action is so fast, if your not careful youll never land a kill on anyone. While that may be fustrating at times, other times it feels like a toon again, the frantic pace makes it good to play.
The other two modes, standard race and capture the flag, are not as good. The race relay is basically real short and sweet, but not the same as the other modes, while the capture the flag is just insaine and near impossible to defeat, considering the FLAGS THEMSELF move around on 2 legs, and you can't capture 1 flag and bring it to base.
That, coupled with only 12 levels spanning 3 areas, gives Cel Damage the only real blemish on it's cel shaded skin. The deathmatch is awesome, but the race is to simple and the capture the flag is to hard. If they were tweaked a bit, I think the game would of been more phenomenal.
Final Score- C+
The toons themselves sound the best, with a lot of smart alek taunts that are riddled with innuendos and inside jokes. The music is not bad, but redundant, and the other effects are over the top and insaine. Overall pretty good!
Final Score- B-
Cel Damage is a sentimental favorite of mine, and is a worthy game to look up if you have 20 bucks to spare, or even less now. While it is graphicly superior to it's actual gameplay, and most of the game modes are not that fun in the end, overall the game is an easily overlooked achievement for not only cel shaded graphics, but multi-player fun as well. Play this with a friend and you will have a blast for a while. I can guarentee that.