A little while back I was waxing melancholic about the old school, now classic racing games of the 90s. Sure, you had your more contemporary racers such as Ridge Racer (loved that game!), the Need for Speed series, to some of the more sim-like ones such as Gran Turismo. Those were all fine and dandy, but I’ll never forget the first time that I sat down and played Liverpool Studio’s Wipeout. I get all nostalgic when I flash back to inserting that old wonky DOS CD-ROM into my so-called “gaming rig” back in the day, and booting the game up.
I’d played the granddaddy and precursor to all futuristic racers, F-Zero, a few times, but was never a huge fan of it. It was sort of too clunky and ugly, but it did convey a sense of speed that I’d never witnessed before. Wipeout improved on just about every facet of that formula, and is still considered to be the breakout star of the entire genre. Who can forget the more responsive handling and beautiful graphics? And what about that exhilarating sense of speed? It was pure cracknip, and I remember playing it over and over, either with fellow geeks at gaming parties, or alone in my room until the wee hours of the morning.
But that was over twenty years ago. Since then, the zero gravity racing scene has been relatively anemic. This is mostly due to the giant gaming corporations taking over since then, and being too afraid to take any risks, lest they affect their bottom lines. Every couple of years or so, I used to check online and see if anyone had come along and made a game similar to Wipeout. For the longest, I didn’t see anything, so I more or less gave up.
Well low and behold—just as soon as I’d turned my back and counted the entire scene out, a bunch of new games began to take up the reigns of the genre, seeking to make it hot again. I can now count around six or seven futuristic racers that have come out recently. One that has risen to the upper echelons and is (deservedly) getting a lot of attention is Redout. Of course, that means that I just had to try it. So, what do I have to report?
First off, Italian developer 34BigThings has really done their homework. Redout is an absolute love letter to the futuristic racers of old. It combines the best aspects of F-Zero, Wipeout, and even facets of Rollcage, but offers enough of its own distinct character to make it proudly stand out on its own.
My first few Redout races were frustrating. But, I mean this in a good way. First, I began in career mode, selected a vehicle, and got all warm and giddy inside as my first racing countdown began. The first thing I noticed about the game was the graphics. Let’s just say that I can’t believe that Redout was produced by an indie developer, because its visuals are both highly atmospheric, and have a very polished presentation. As I raced down my first neon track I quickly realized that I was somewhere in the desert, as beautiful lens flare, roving dust storms, and other signs of a vast, open, desert area were present.
The second thing that occurred to me was how responsive the controls were. Initially, I didn’t know how to utilize the complex system of air braking and drifting, and so smashed into the sides of the track quite often. But Redout is like a patient teacher. It guides you ever so slightly in the right direction without being hand-holdy. It also rewards you with your efforts as you learn its excellent gaming mechanics.
After I’d delved further into Redout and became more accustomed to its wide variety of modes, as well as more familiar with its controls, a whole new gaming experience opened up. There is a entire suite of fun modes to play around with, which should keep gamers on their toes. These include Speed, Survival, Time Attack, Instagib, Race, Last Man Standing, Pure Race, Arena Race, Score, Boss, and the aforementioned Career mode (whew!). Needless to say, there’s a ton of replay value to be had here.
You can also upgrade your craft, which is another unique facet that I enjoy about Redout. And while there are weapons, I’m so glad that developers didn’t make combat a major factor in the game, and instead primarily focused on its racing aspects. I also like how your upgrades can only be added to your ship in-between races, while your vehicle is sitting in the garage. This system is much more preferable (to me at least) than snagging a bunch of glowing power-ups that just happen to be laying around on various tracks. This really adds a layer of strategy to the proceedings, especially if you are constantly getting beaten by certain racers with certain weapons or traits, in multiplayer.
Your ship itself has several characteristics which can be tweaked in order to fit your particular driving style. Your all-important Structure rating determines how resistant to damage your craft is, as well as both its energy reserves and its boosting capabilities. Turbines measure your speed and acceleration. And lastly, magnets affect how well your ship handles as well as its ability to stay on the track. As you place higher in races, you’ll gain additional credits, with which can then use to improve both your vehicle’s traits and equipment. This translates to a real sense of accomplishment after you win close races, especially when you had to tough it out, tooth and nail, with other hovercraft that were trying to knock you off the racing track.
Just as there are a multitude of different vehicles and vehicle classes to choose from, Redout’s wide array of tracks are some of the best-designed I’ve ever seen. From the dusty, windswept deserts of Cairo, Egypt, to the picturesque Mediterranean environs of Abruzzo, Italy, all of the twenty different tracks are stunning. Combine that with a thumping—and I mean pulsating EDM soundtrack, and it’s sure to have your toes tapping and blood pumping in no time.
34BigThings put a ton of heart and soul into Redout, it’s just bursting at the seams with character and style. It combines the retina-searing sense of speed of F-Zero with the handling and physics of Wipeout, but definitely has its very own personality and flair. It offers over seventy events to conquer, as well as full VR support to really get your adrenaline flowing. You can also compete with up to eleven other racers in its multiplayer modes. Redout has truly set the bar high for other futuristic racers to follow. I, for one, am excited to see that the developers will take this burgeoning franchise next.
Redout has some breathtaking low-poly visuals that must be seen to be believed. However, you have to have an equally fast gaming PC in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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