Review: Death Lap
B-movie style combat racing that lacks polish.
Unlike its bigger brother, Oculus Rift S, the Oculus Quest really needs some dedicated quality racers on the platform. VR Karts: Sprint has been the only real offering – not particularly well-received either – but now it’s got some competition in the form of OZWE Games’ vehicular combat experience Death Lap. Putting cars and guns together has always proved to be very entertaining, so hopefully, Death Lap is just what the headset needs.
Death Lap isn’t purely for Oculus Quest as it does support Oculus Rift S and cross-platform competition between the two headsets. As mentioned, with the lack of racing titles on the standalone headset most of this review was conducted on Oculus Quest. In actuality, testing on both only highlighted an expected visual quality difference, with all the gameplay and features remaining the same.
Better known for its Anshar Wars series of VR titles harking all the way back to the original Gear VR, OZWE Games has certainly taken an alternate path with Death Lap. You’re instantly thrust into an experience which enlists all the hallmarks of a B-movie. The very thin storyline revolves around a gameshow race hosted by a villainous character called Nitro Saint Payne who can’t be taken seriously because of the cheesiest acting you’ll find in VR – hopefully this was intentional.
Discounting the actor who prominently appears everywhere – and looks like a rejected extra from Mad Max – your gameplay choices are between a single-player mode with five cars and five tracks or multiplayer with the same options. This does mean variety is a little lacking when it comes to keeping things fresh and interesting in Death Lap, as you’ll likely see all the title has to offer in under an hour.
All the cars feature a roof-mounted long-range weapon, front-mounted close range weapon, special weapon and then additional extras picked from the track. There’s certainly an overload of controls to get used to yet the basics are easily picked up after a couple of laps and prove to be enjoyable fun, shooting opponents in a 360-degree arc on massively wide tracks.
However, the feel of each individual car isn’t that greatly different, with the monster truck being the only notable exception because it’s so slow. That selection of five is soon whittled down to one favourite, mainly due to the weapons rather than handling or speed. The same really goes for the tracks themselves, offering little actual challenge on their own. Standing out among them all was the final course on the pinball table, offering lots of alternate routes, jumps and visual interest.
The single-player may provide the core of Death Lap’s gameplay but it’s the multiplayer which should keep you coming back for more, hopefully. There are no additional modes or gameplay tweaks to be had here, just the same tracks and cars to race against real opponents if they are available. It’s a shame OZWE Games hasn’t put at least a couple of gameplay slants in there to spice things up; no ranged weapons, limited health, ragdoll physics, anything really.
On the flip side, while gameplay options are limited, comfort isn’t. You can choose between first and third-person views, both of which can be switched from comfortable/moderate/intense, adjusting how the camera operates in the process. Which is superb. You can also choose to steer with the stick or by turning the Oculus Touch controller. Another worthy addition. This does mean plenty of switching back and forth to find your own sweet spot – moderate + stick steering was a favourite – so most players should be catered for.
Death Lap has some great elements to it, instantly offering exciting races where you can throw caution to the wind, drive like a maniac and shoot stuff. Unfortunately, there is a lack of finesse and polish to the whole experience with the content really needing a little boost. Plus there’s no way to add some personalisation or upgrades for that much-needed variety. In another six months, this may well be a great racer, for now, it’s simply average.