There are two kinds of racing games, hyper realistic simulator games, like Gran Turismo, and the games that focus more on fun and entertainment than the actual physics of your cars. Speed Kills is a game firmly in the latter of that category, and as soon as I was done with the first race, I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite racing games as a kid – Super Offroad. The similarities between the two extend beyond the isometric viewpoint, including upgradable vehicles, weaponry and even a rock music soundtrack.
Speed Kills took a good premise and pushed it into the 21st century. While I’m certain it’s not the first to do so, it’s definitely one of the first I’ve played in a while. It does quite a lot right, especially the way the trucks handle. While it’s not true to life, they respond well and with the addition of a nitro boost to your chosen vehicle, can actually be a bit of a challenge to get perfect. Turning too soon and hitting the barrier can ruin your momentum, as can ramming into a group of cars, so you need to make sure to be making the right moves at the right time to ensure victory.
There are five different worlds which each have their own tournaments on them, each of which grow in difficulty as you move through them, but they also give higher rewards too. The tracks are a little samey, but they are distinct enough for you to retain your interest. There are also numerous vehicles that you – and your opponents – may choose from, ranging from souped up 4x4s to hovercrafts. You can even pay to upgrade them, boosting their armour, weaponry and speed to make your car an impregnable fortress that travels at the speed of light. It could probably be improved to include more, but the game provides enough variety to keep it interesting.
Holy Warp, who developed the game, did put a lot of thought into the way the game looks and feels as it’s got some decent graphics to entice you in, with an excellent soundtrack to back it up. I always enjoy a good rock soundtrack and Speed Kills brings it in buckets. It always gets me pumped no matter what I’m playing, but it really works perfectly in this combat racer.
Despite the positives, the game isn’t perfect. There are a few too many bugs in it to make it really fun, and does show a complete lack of attention to detail. There are plenty of jumps in the game, landing on the road is what you want to do, but if you miss and fall out of bounds, you’ll crash down to your death. Unless, that is, you don’t go far enough and you land just over the barrier which protects drivers from the perilous fall, but before the actual fall. You’ll just land in a limbo for around half a minute before respawning on the map, last place and no hope of even scraping 5th.
That’s not the only irritation. This is a combat racer, so you’ll get hit by your fellow drivers as they try to speed beyond you, which can turn you around ninety degrees from the front. That’s not the issue, it’s a dirty tactic used by the AI, but it’s definitely not a bug in the game. The bug comes from if you try to move forward from this position. As soon as you attempt it, you’ll be very briefly shown a “wrong way” message before being abruptly turned around and placed back on track. Only, because there’s no warning of this, you get dumped back and are likely still trying to turn to rectify the situation yourself, so you end up driving into the wall. Not exactly great design or conducive to enjoyable gameplay.
Speed Kills is fun as long as you can withstand some incredibly frustrating ‘features’ and going around a hundred tracks which, while slightly differ, are largely the same. It’s definitely something you’d want to pick up if you were a fan of isometric racers, but it wouldn’t come close to anything resembling an experience beyond what one could call “half decent”. It’s fun for a bit, but the bugs do overwhelm it slightly, so you wouldn’t be missing out on a world-beater if you didn’t buy it.