Games Gazette Logo

 Click pic for trailer

Steel Rats, designed and published by Polish development studio Tate Multimedia,is now out in for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. As usual I have had to search the internet for screenshots as I still have no idea how to get them from my PS4 on the TV screen to the computer other than take photos with a camera and that makes them screenshots of screenshots and not usually particularly good, plus it depends on the light and the reflections onscreen.

 

STEEL RATS is an unusual 'race' game where you ride a variety of motorcycles through a myriad different terrains. One of the top aspects of play is solving the puzzles presented to you by way of getting into and then out of many sticky situations. The bikes have to jump, speed, skid and glide, and you have to learn the controls as you play by following the dotted lines - direction markers - that appear onscreen to help you; trouble is they do not have direction arrows so if you manage to spin yourself around you can actually end up following the aids in the wrong direction - I know, I've done it!

As the rider you often have to go down and up ramps and sometimes find yourself in what appears to be a room or area with no exit. In cases like this you have to find the wheel-lock machinery and manoeuvre your bike so that the back wheel locks into the rolling-road style cog apparatus. Then you rev the bike up and the cogs spin and a door will open or a lift/elevator will rise or lower - very clever idea but perhaps a little over-used.

 

The 'race' isn't really a Ready-Steady-Go! run from start to finish; it is more a race against time. Evil robots, aka 'Junkbots' have invaded Coastal City and are killing and destroying all and everything in their wake. Are they controlled by a meglomaniac individual or are they sentient machines capable of thought and decision? The STEEL RATS Motor-Cycle Club, more of a Punk-style group than a Sons of Anarchy MCC, have appointed themselves the saviours of the city and will do anything and everything to prevent these 'bots from conquering humanity.

One of the first things you need to do is gather all members of the STEEL RATS together as fighting the junkbots alone is not a fight you can win - there are simply too many mini 'bots that support the huge monstrosities. You can update your fighting skills and weaponry as you flow through the game but to begin with you have an amazing tool-cum-weapon at the very front of your bike. At the touch of a switch the front wheel rotates at high speed and turns into a blazing chainsaw allowing you to ride the road cutting through fallen logs and small obstructions without breaking pace - large vehicles such as buses are not immediately negotiated (ie you smash into them rather than cut through them) so the best action is to swerve around them, but try not to slow down as following 'bots seem to have the intelligence of a game programmer and can dodge and swerve at violent speeds as they chase after you.

 

There is a brief learning curve at the beginning where you get the chance to put your game controls through their paces. You should pay attention to this as it works like a tutorial and for once you really shouldn't try to bypass this phase - many games are so obvious with their controls that you skip through blinkered. You have to go through this episode, it isn't a choice to learn, what I am saying is that you should take note and remember because once past the introduction phase the game kicks in and it doesn't pull any punches.

The atmosphere created by the scenes and back-drops is intense, and although there is a 40's/50's vibe the technology defies it. You have to 'unlock' the other three members of your Punk Band to give you access to all possible different variations of skills and weapons. By collecting certain junk-style objects as you progress you gain the ability to 'buy' upgrades. I've heard of 'Junk' mail, 'Junk' ships and Piles of 'Junk', but using 'Junk' as a monetary system is totally new to me - fun though!

 

STEEL RATS is a beautifully designed game with graphics, sounds and visuals that not only tests the power of the PS4, but also tests the skills and reflexes of the player's use of the PS4 controller. Many of the levels of play have more than one way to complete but all require your control of an extra-fast motorcycle, loaded with weapons front and back, plus the obvious potentialities such a powerful beast provides.

This game will probably be filed under the genre of a side-scroller because the action takes place onscreen side to side, but the way it is presented often takes it out of the regular 2D and positions somewhere close to 3D though without the need for special spectacles. Fast & Furious is a description that has been over-used a lot recently but it really does define the game STEEL RAT. Being on fully-loaded motorbikes makes it an even more exciting prospect than being in fully-loaded cars.

Blood-pulsing, vein-throbbing, eye-popping action, all in the glorious dank and dark world of a futuristic past!

 


 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015