Have you ever wondered what would happen if a copy of Tony Hawks: Pro Skater, a third-person shooter and a combo system all fell down the stairs together? No… I don’t blame you but developers Roll7 – the team behind the OlliOlli series and Not a Hero – have with their latest title. Rollerdrome, which landed on the PS and PC last year, has made its way to the Xbox now bringing with it a very unique spin on the extreme sports genre. If you have ever seen the 70s cult classic Rollerball or the rubbish 2000s remake, you’ll have a rough idea of what Rollerdrome is all about.
You play as Kara Hassan – a competitor in a deadly futuristic sport called “Rollerdrome”, which contestants must perform roller-skating tricks, while all the time fighting against enemies using an arsenal of weapons. Set in a retro dystopian future, where everything has a 70s vibe to it. Your goal is simple… survive the Rollerdrome, all while pulling off cool tricks and dispatching bad guys in evermore over the top ways. Do this and you’ll become the league champion, but not is all as it seems in this twisted future. As between rounds of the blood-sport, you sometimes get to walk around the locker room and learn/undercover more about the world and its lore.
The tale is fragmented, but has a strong enough thread running through it, to make you want to learn more from searching out these snippets. Though in all fairness it does take a back seat for the action. Which is the biggest hook of the game, as it’s a third-person shooter of sorts on roller-skates; where your ammo is unlimited. The only catch is to refill your clips, you’ll have to pull off evermore daring tricks. It’s a slick system that makes you have to think out your next move, as you blast enemies around the arena; ranging from thugs with bats, mini-gun wielding tanks and dead-eye snipers – each serving up a different challenge to overcome.
Your health is limited, so you have to think fast and make the best use of the reflect time (AKA Bullet Time) which slows the action to a crawl and lets you process what’s happening. This is the core of the gameplay, but each level sees you having to also complete a set list of tasks from performing a particular kill, to collecting combo tokens. This may seem like a throw away distraction from the action, but it’s actually how you unlock new areas and move up the leagues. So, like me you can go in all guns blazing, complete the first arenas and then be stone wall stopped in your tracks and have to backtrack to complete the challenge list to move forward. Beware! There is an OK selection of arenas, though you’ll be seeing a bit more of them than you may like as you grind your way to the top.
Visually the game is stunning with a cell shaded, super clean art style – that has a real comic book tone. All amplified when things start going boom and it all fits the retro future vibe incredibly well. Sound-wise the soundtrack the feeds off of 70s Synthwave, while clear SFX work will have you knowing in secs when you’re out of ammo, or pulled off a combo busting trick, due to the audio cues. Also worth saying is the game has an outstanding assists system at play that you can dial into your skill, or if you just want to take in the tale. Though on the flip side, you can unlock Out For Blood mode, which dishes up a true challenge. Rollerdrome is a fast and frantic title that is challenging and fair in equal measures. Starting out as a roller-skate themed blaster, but quickly evolving into a combat puzzler, where bullets are always the solution.
An Xbox review copy of Rollerdrome was provided by Roll7’s PR team, and it’s out now on PC, PlayStation and Xbox for around £20.