A Great Online Mode Hampered By a Bad Menu
The crux of this game is an arcade racer mashed with tower defense. When you give the idea some thought it actually makes perfect sense. Most tower defense games track targets on a confined path. Racing games are targets moving on a confined path. The concept is simple, brilliant and for the most part executed well in this game.
The game is setup simply as a sort of wild west racing game where all of the tracks take place in a desert. The graphics are amazingly well done for what this game is and all of the tracks are actually fairly well executed. Short cuts and hazards are in place that can be triggered by the gunners and the layout and excitement in the game can get fairly intense when the right conditions for play exist. Getting the right mix of players online though to get those conditions can be painful though.
While the concept of the game is brilliant, the execution is slightly underdone, which is probably due to time constraints and budget. In the single player mode, most of the power ups don't work when you are racing as they are designed to power up your gunner. This seems like a slightly sloppy design choice where the developer could have simply removed the power ups from the course or instead had a bot gunner for your team. Instead it appears that all of the gunners are aiming for you. That by itself would not really be a problem and actually creates some really hectic racing for the single player mode, but when the game is specifically designed for multi-player it just comes off as lazy when the game play isn't tweaked for the mode that is being played.
The core of the game really is designed to be played in a multi-player environment. When you can figure out how to gather eight people (or bots) for a game the actual mechanic works incredibly well. Cooperating with your teammate to power up, sabotage, attack and manipulate the players and the course is downright exciting. I often times found myself talking with my team on how and when to trigger a shortcut or sabotage a part of the course, trying to get the maximum potential for my team. There is way more to do here than just shoot the other cars when you are the gunner. The biggest problem though simply is the multi-player implementation. It is very confusing and the management of XBL party members through the menu system is not at all well done.
When trying to start a multi-player game I found i difficult to bring my party with me. When I clicked on the party option in the multi-player menu the "invite to game" option was grayed out for my party members. I was also unable to find a single online game at any point over the past week. I was able to get a game finally going though by going to the "create a match" option in the multi-player menu, selecting how many private slots I wanted for my party and going from there. The rest of the race was filled with bots, which worked out fine once I got it figured out, but took way to long to get setup. Also, once your campaign is compelted you are bounced all the way back out to the main menu where you have to go through the process again to setup another multi-player race. I wish there was a simple "Co-Op" option in the menu where I could take one friend online and get a race with bots going.
Once the multi-player match was running though I had a blast racing and gunning my way through the course and the concept of the game became more realized once you have a teammate with whom you can cooperate with. As I stated before, communication can be come key and is incredibly fund when you are trying to actively sabotage the other racers.
Overall it is a fairly strong idea of a game whose core mechanic of cooperative gameplay is slightly hindered by poor online implementation. It is a perfect format and form for an XBL game and I would actually love to see the idea expanded in the future. A simple title update could do wonders to make this game more playable and I just wish it had some more people playing the multi-player so I could really get in there and have at it with them. The ability to customize or design courses, the layout of the guns and such would really take this a long way.