Preview: Death Lap – Full Metal Racing

OZWE Games is a virtual reality (VR) developer known for its love of sci-fi action thanks to its two previous titles Anshar Wars 2 and Anshar Online (both highly recommended). Just prior to Oculus Connect 6 (OC6) the studio announced that it was working on a far more terrestrial title but one which was no less out of this world. Evoking classic vehicular combat titles like Road Rash or Destruction Derby, OZWE Games has created Death Lap, a racer that’s as much about driving as it is about shooting everyone.

Demoing Death Lap at OC6 on an Oculus Quest, this early version was a single-player experience with each race made up of six participants. There’s a loose storyline involving an evil villain who has created the races as part of a deadly gameshow, with some sort of nefarious plot woven in as well.

Storylines in most racing titles were never the most engaging or compelling and that seems to be the case here, which doesn’t really matter so long as the gameplay mechanics hold up. And it’s so far so good from VRFocus’ point of view, with Death Lap proving to be an enjoyable racer at the moment.

There were several tracks to choose from, set amongst dusty desert terrain with a variety of carnival style decorations littering and warping the track. Likewise, Death Lap offered a choice of vehicles to select, from small nippy buggies to oversized monster trucks. Naturally, each had   several attributes setting them apart, from handling and acceleration, to their stock weapon loadouts for taking out the competition.

Racing was a lively yet still controllable affair, with wide open tracks allowing for plenty of ruckus and little bouncing of walls. OZWE Games has employed some visual trickery to ensure a comfortable racing experience no matter whether you’re pulling a power slide or flying through the air, pummelling an opponent with your guns.

Ah the guns. As mentioned, this is as much an essential part of the experience as those four wheels. Every car has a central roof mounted weapon of some sort. Generally resembling a minigun, plasma cannon or other heavy-duty weapon this is for long range attacks, completely controlled via the right Oculus Touch controller. It has a 360-degree shooting range, so when the track is right even those lagging at the back can get a face full of bullets. Super fun to use, the only worry was running out of ammo, handily littered around the track along with other surprises.

These could be both beneficial and deadly to your own race, offering boosts to jump ramps or more offensive capabilities like mines or an SMG – a personal favourite – which had limited ammo but allows you to shoot out the window, drive by style.

No doubt an arcade style racer, Death Lap offered short bouts of intense action where you almost don’t care if you come in first, evoking the often sought after ‘one more go’ mentality. The only factor that made it a little underwhelming were the visuals which certainly didn’t compare to other Oculus Quest titles at present or OZWE’s previous videogames. Oculus Quest definitely needs its own racing experience and Death Lap could well be the one.

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