Developer Octane Games' post-World War III version of the future is one where rival factions seek to enslave civilians, and nothing stands in their way except for the Wasteland Angel. Players take on the role of this deadly beauty and her souped-up vehicle of destruction as they attempt to defend the innocent against waves of "Gangers, Renegades, and Mutants."
While it sports a modern coat of paint--including nice touches like day and night scenarios--Wasteland Angel is decidedly a tribute to old-school action games that focus on numerous waves of enemies punctuated by boss battles. Each of the game's six different locations contain civilian-filled towns, and once the action begins, enemies come rushing in from all sides. Small dune buggies with mounted machine guns are soon accompanied by larger vehicles, like missile-firing vans and big transport trucks. There are a dozen vehicle types, overall. Some of the larger enemy vehicles can pull up alongside the towns, at which point they'll start loading up on civilians. The key to survival, I found during my hands-on time with Wasteland Angel, is eradicating the bad guys without allowing them to escape with human cargo.
The Wasteland Angel's car is unrealistically nimble--able to rotate in a tight circle without any forward momentum. Though there are certain liberties taken with the driving physics, they feel right at home with the frantic, arcade-style action. Defeated enemies often drop power-ups, ranging from health and ammo to weapon enhancements. For example, incendiary ammo makes quicker work of foes, and deploying a tight string of mines behind your car is nightmarish for pursuers.
Boss battles against much larger vehicles require subtle (and welcome) shifts in strategy. When encountering the first of such fights--a huge, spiked steamroller-like vehicle with front-mounted flamethrowers--the Angel's normal guns had no effect. Instead, I had to use napalm power-ups to create a series of fiery walls directly in the steamroller's path. It was just the first of many boss-battles that will be present in the final game, and though not particularly challenging, was pretty fun due to the variety it offered.
I enjoyed my time with Wasteland Angel, but it left me wondering if the arena and defense-based combat will still feel fresh and fun through all twenty-four of the game's levels.
Wasteland Angel is set to kick up some dust for PC this summer as a digital download on Steam as well as "other" unnamed "channels."
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