Run. Gun. Die. Repeat. That is my version of Speed Limit’s tagline. The arcade shooter which comes out tomorrow is a frantic and exciting experience that is designed to make you take knee jerk decisions for survival as well as remembering enemy patterns. The real gem that Speed Limit brings to the player though is every second level, the genre completely changes.
Starting off on foot in a train, you are wanted by the police who will shoot you dead. You are of course, innocent but this is an early 90’s movie on steroids. Moving with the left stick, you’ll aim your gun with the right on a 8 point compass to shoot and kill all the enemies out to get you. You’ll also have a secondary function which may be a jump or a second weapon. After breaking out of the train though, the end of level 2 see’s you jump off it and into a car. The view perspective changes and seamlessly you are now in a top down driving game, still shooting away. The way it does this transition without loading screens throughout the entire game is a technical wow that many will miss. After a horizontal car chase, you’ll go retro vertical car chasing before leaping onto a motorcycle and transitioning to a road rash clone. Moving from 2D to a 3D view is quite a surprise.
After this you’ll be flying choppers in a Desert Strike 2.5D isometric view and then going nuts with an After Burner fighter jet. These act a little more like lane defence and attack levels as enemies come at you from different directions and so you’ll need to fire and avoid fire be switching your positions. By the time you reach the final boss, you’ll have exhausted most crazy 90’s action hero tropes. It is glorious.
What surprised me most is that Speed Limit is hard. It is challenging. It is also very, very addictive. It offers checkpoints quite regularly which means if you can chain a minute of good clean gameplay without dying, you’ll likely have a better starting place for your next death, where a cheeky VHS rewind effect respawns you. I clocked up well over 1000 deaths trying to complete the game on normal mode and still enjoyed myself. There is an easy mode to get accustomed to the speed and dexterity you’ll need to tackle the game which offers less enemies and gives them laser sight so you know if you are walking into bullets. This is super handy because the hidden skill required here is pattern recognition. Enemy patterns largely stay the same so familiarity means cleaner, quicker runs and if you are good enough – you can speedrun the game like a boss.
Whilst the game is responsive and always feels fair, there were two small issues I had with Speed Limit that can be easily rectified. Firstly, the game doesn’t explain the full range of controls for each vehicle you take over. This led to me not realising you could control the speed of them and initially I played the game like an auto-runner. it isn’t and later on in the game controlling vehicles properly is vital for success. I wish they had told me that somewhere, it’d have saved about 100 deaths! I also experienced some blue screen crashes on the PS4 version, notably on the final boss. Whilst you can easily dive back in again via level select, it was quite annoying and hopefully can be patched out.
These were just small blemishes on what is a great purist arcade experience. It’ll hand your ass to you several times over but that is part of the fun. it is always fair, it is always frantic and is always good humoured. I hope this will be a sleeper hit as it deserves it.
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