PAX Prime 2010: Slam Bolt Scrappers
Having played my fair share of Slam Bolt Scrappers back at PAX East (please refer to my previous article to read about basic gameplay, as I’m primarily covering what’s new here), I was more than happy to be invited to check out the newest build. Over the last several months Fire Hose has obviously been working to refine and polish the title, leading up to its release in early 2011. During that time it was also announced Slam Bolt would be published by Sony Online Entertainment exclusively for the PlayStation Network.
In addition to the previously shown 2v2 versus mode, Fire Hose had a pair of levels available from their campaign to show off, which could be played with one to four players. Before jumping into the new content I got to play a versus match paired with a stranger versus one of the designers from Fire Hose and a show attendee cosplaying as an ‘L’ shaped Tetris block. The guy in the Tetris outfit only had one hand free, so both he and the dude from Fire Hose used the newly announced ‘Beverage Mode’, which maps all of Slam Bolt’s commands to the left hand side of the DualShock 3. Needless to say, the stranger and I got beasted as it took a while for the both of us to get on the same page, long before that had happened our board was eating heavy doses of munitions.
After the humiliation of losing to the one handed Tetris block had subsided the four of us tried one of the new levels, which consisted of a boss battle with a gargantuan robot. We all worked together to build our squares on the one side of the screen as the robot did his best – on easy mode – to screw us over with lasers and drills that chipped away at our progress. Having seen a few others play the battle previously I knew we had to punch his core to disable his shields, allowing our inordinate amounts of ordinance to reach their target. During the fight he’d change sides and proceed through a few different attack patterns, but the four of us knew what we were doing and it wasn’t long before he was reduced to little more than a pile of scrap metal.
Following the boss battle I insisted we try the Volcano City level that Fire Chief Eitan Glinert had been telling me about. The designer we had been playing with said the stage was too advanced for the four of us, but I persisted, insisting we were all ready for the challenge. Apparently the stage was ripped from the latter portion of Slam Bolt’s campaign, but I was curious to see just how difficult the game could really get. Luckily the stage didn’t disappoint as it placed the four of us in the center of a huge volcano with two side-by-side building regions that rested on a seesaw-like platform. On either sides of our board there were a pair that belonged to four AI players, which were obviously much more intelligent and aggressive than the boss we had just beaten. Since our boards were resting on a lever, when one side had more blocks it would begin to tip the scale and drop towards the magma, lifting the adjacent side up. This gave us the balancing act of protecting our board not only from the opposing AI team, but also making sure our blocks were evenly distributed between both sides to keep them safe from the lava below.
Despite the jump in difficulty over the ‘bot battle, our rag tag band convincingly managed to beat Volcano City much to the surprise of the Fire Hose team on hand. The match was quite exhilarating as it required all of us to keep tabs on many different things happening at once, while doing our best to coordinate our efforts. The whole experience left me just as impressed as I had been at PAX East, only now I know the cooperative multiplayer is just as much reason to be excited about Slam Bolt Scrappers as its chaotic competitive mode. And I suspect I’ll be just as high on the game early next year when I’m finally playing the game at home – with one hand.