Whenever games attempt to combine various genres into one, it always either ends up a complete failure, or a niche success that finds good traction among the adopting player base. Refract studios created something special with Distance – a survival-themed racer where you explore a mysterious futuristic city, having to avoid numerous obstacles scattered throughout each level in an effort to make it through until the end. It mixes in platforming elements of the sort, with jumping, spinning and flying mechanics introduced to compliment traditional arcade racing, and add a unique spin on the experience. It’s quite relaxing, yet intensely gripping at once as you try to navigate the diverse obstacles, and nail those perfect runs to advance in game further. Whether you attempt to uncover what happened to this strange world, grab perfect scores across each level in Arcade mode, or compete online against other players, Distance offers something for everyone with its engaging gameplay mechanics.Continue reading
Burnout Paradise is one of those games I find myself coming back to year after year, never tiring out on its adrenaline filled gameplay formula. Few racing titles have managed to deliver levels of excitement found in Burnout ever since the series went into hibernation, and none possess the engaging open world found in Paradise. Now it has a fresh coat of paint and brings all DLC into one spot to preserve one of the best arcade racers you can currently find on the market. Burnout Paradise Remastered extensively improves all visual aspects of the original version, while retaining the exact same game experience fans have enjoyed since its release back in 2008. This is all you’d normally ask of a remastered experience, but features significantly more upgrades compared to typical obsession of the gaming industry to update almost everything it’s released in the past. Burnout Paradise is one of those few where I don’t mind spending money to get the updated experience, knowing I’m very well getting exceptional value even when I own the original game. You don’t have to be a racing game fan to enjoy the experience, and Paradise Remastered offers unparalleled open-world excitement.Continue reading
Any game becomes instantaneously more fun when you’re playing with a friend or a group, especially if you’re sitting in the same room. Whereas consoles enjoy a larger suite of titles multiple people can play at once, the case becomes much less so when looking at the PC platform. While most PC gamers indeed prefer having a desk setup, there are those who like to have a high-end gaming station hooked up to their TV set, myself included. This makes the lack of extensive split-screen options in PC gaming a challenge when trying to find titles one can enjoy with friends, and few developers choose to include the feature across the platform, even if it may be present in a console version. Looking at Steam’s split-screen releases, there’s little to find between the many LEGO games and low-quality indie releases, so I’ve rounded up a list of picks that qualify to deliver a fun and rewarding experience for multiple individuals. LEGO games aren’t bad either, although their appeal is limited to a much younger audience than most of the hardcore PC gamer base. The options aren’t broad, and one will see quite a few racing games included, but these are the titles I’ve had the most fun with playing alongside friends.Continue reading
Developer, Publisher: Three Fields Entertainment
Released: July 13th, 2018; Reviewed on: PC
Testing Specifications: Core i5-6500, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070
Few racing games allow players to freely crash through traffic, but to fill that niche comes Danger Zone 2 from Three Fields Entertainment. The second iteration of the follow-up to the Crash Mode introduced in Burnout Revenge expands in a few key areas to create a far more engaging experience and introduces much sought-after diversity. At its core, the purpose of Danger Zone 2 is executed well and there’s plenty of thrills to find in smashing through loads of traffic, although not all of its ideas live up to full potential.Continue reading
Ridge Racer: Slipstream perfectly recaptures the feel of once venerable arcade racing series on the PlayStation, known for high-speed races, intense powerslides and pumping techno music. It reminds me of playing Ridge Racer on the PSP handheld many years ago, and then its follow-up Ridge Racer 2, although on a much smaller scale. The series seemingly dropped off the gaming market after the sweet but cold-received Unbounded didn’t ignite enthusiasm in the series for many long time fans . If you desperately missed the series, however, Bandai Namco dropped a free-to-play mobile spin-off Slipstream, which by now is a few years old itself. That isn’t to say this Ridge Racer isn’t worth coming back to; with only few missteps, it takes place among the best arcade racers on mobile, right up there with the recently released Asphalt 9: Legends. Whether it be an extensive career mode, feel of the game’s arcade racing or bright colorful visuals, there is a lot to like in Ridge Racer: Slipstream, even if it makes some errors along the way.Continue reading
Developer, Publisher: Gameloft; Released: July 25th, 2018
Reviewed on: Razer Phone, Android
Get it on: Google Play
Asphalt 9: Legends doesn’t quite take off into the air like its predecessor, but reaches new heights thanks to outstanding gameplay and bright visual design. An experience that largely iterates on what Asphalt 8: Airborne built up, the ninth instalment improves on progression and gameplay in meaningful ways that make it one of the best racers on mobile. While it can’t quite escape the various tropes of free-to-play gaming, these are minor complaints in the face of all features available, and progress never halts to a complete stop. What you get here is a streamlined racer with expansive variety and features that send it into the rank of legends, all available at absolutely no cost.Continue reading
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment; Publisher: THQ Nordic
Released: June 14th, 2018; Review Platform: PC
System Specifications: Core i5-6500 3.2GHz, 16 GB DDR 4 RAM, GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
Get it on: Steam
I never imagined riding a lawn mower on a race track will be so much fun, as those vehicles tend to be far from fast or entertaining in real life. The new game from Bugbear proved that it very well can be, especially when you put 24 mowers against each other in demolition derby. Wreckfest has been stuck in Steam Early Access for such a long time that I’ve entirely forgot about the game’s existence up until its recent full release. The developer Bugbear Entertainment, which many would remember as creators of the FlatOut series, announced this title back in 2012 as Next Car Game. Through lengthy development, numerous delays, and finding a publisher, Wreckfest has finally released on PC, and its long time coming looks to have paid off very well. With a career mode, custom events, mod support and a varied selection of cars, this is a proper FlatOut sequel many have been waiting for, and a realistic damage model is icing on top of the cake. Bugbear have delivered an excellent demolition derby racing title packed full of fun moments, and its numerous release delays really paid off to finish work on this game. Now that the game left Early Access, there is a lot to enjoy about Wreckfest, and long time fans of demolition racing games got a well-made release, even if the developer no longer has the rights to the series’ name they’re well known for.Continue reading
Developer: AbstractArt; Released: December 26th, 2017
Reviewed on: Razer Phone, Android
Racing games based on music-generated tracks aren’t entirely new to the gaming landscape, although that doesn’t make quality releases any less interesting. The most notable title that comes to mind is Audiosurf, which existed on PC since 2009 and proved successful enough that it spawned a sequel. On the mobile platform, however, if there were any similar games in the past, they were mostly low-quality clones that didn’t offer any interesting elements. And with a huge music library I carry on my phone compared to either my computer or laptop, I’ve been long wishing for something to come along I could compare to the quality of Audiosurf. Having tried Music Racer, which gets straight to the point with its name, there is finally a game on my phone where I can race tracks generated by my extensive music library. While the game is pretty straightforward, and most could consider it as another Audiosurf clone with similar mechanics, the quality of this release makes it worth discussing on its own. With a diverse selection of cars and track designs, powered by a decently good music track generator, Music Racer delivers a satisfying experience that’s well worth checking out, especially at its free price.
The setup of Music Racer is simple: choose your car, choose the design of track and finally, load up whichever song you like from your music library. From there on, the game generates a racing stage to match the pacing of a particular song. It isn’t the most impressive track creator when compared to likes of Audiosurf, but showcases impressive song matching for a mobile release. It is frankly impossible to avoid comparisons here as Music Racer takes extensive inspiration and design clues from Audiosurf, however as I want to point out, this isn’t a bad design direction. Racing speed varies depending on how fast a song is, and varies throughout any level to match highs and lows, as well as fast and slow points. To make the experience more interesting, players would collect points between the three linear lines set across a track. Apart from point collection, one has to avoid numerous obstacles that reset the score multiplier, and hitting too many can reset the score. Music Racer isn’t complex in its design nature, but using own songs makes for an engaging experience, even if you’ll be playing the game in short bursts at a time.
Collected points serve as a form of currency to unlock further race tracks and a decent variety of vehicles, which I found to be a nice touch as it keeps players engaged for the time it takes to unlock everything. This also provides ample diversity to the game experience, as race tracks feature different designs, even if they follow the same futuristic theme. With only three race modes to choose from, Music Racer greatly benefits from having different rides and stage designs. The Free mode exists simply for the enjoyment of user songs, while showcasing the game’s strong design. Normal is what most would be playing to progress through unlocking all of the game’s stages and cars, whereas Hard is the same experience but features quicker speeds and an increase in obstacles. Neither of the three are significantly diverse from one another, and Free mode isn’t worth paying much attention to as it doesn’t earn any points. While I would have liked to see some diversity in actual racing, the urge to unlock all stages and cars is strong enough to engage players for a while. As I’ve mentioned before, this will probably be a game best played in short bursts rather than over long sessions.
A neat feature I found is how Music Racer shows progress in a song through an advancing white bar over the song title. I imagine most won’t need to be reminded how far along they’re into a song, but useful over long music tracks. Built with the Unity engine, the game’s graphics actually look really great for a small download that Music Racer is, with detailed models and diverse vibrant colors. Some track designs do lack legibility, however, especially those created with dark shades, which makes them worth trying out just once and then abandoning altogether. Most of the game’s car selection is modeled after real-world vehicles, although there are a few oddballs like a racing bike and what I can only assume is a flying mechanical bird or dragon. The garage is fairly diverse, and vehicles feature some nice effects matching their color scheme. Among the standout visual designs is your ride breaking into a million tiny pieces when hitting an obstacle, and then forming back together within milliseconds. Music Racer also boasts a good amount of visual options to make the game playable on lower-end smartphones, as well as giving the ability to disable some visual effects to decrease strain on the eyes. There is a lot to like about visuals, and diversity helps to make the game as enjoyable as it currently is.
There is a small flaw to point out, however, and that is the presence of ads. These aren’t frequent, and don’t intrude on the gameplay whatsoever, which makes these ads a very minor issue. I applaud the developers for placing ads after a race and sometimes in the menu screens, as it would make the game a disaster otherwise, if the ads infringed onto the racing itself. Given the game’s free-to-play download, the ads are forgivable, however I would personally prefer to pay a few dollars to the developer and purchase a non-ad version. While this doesn’t appear to be an option at the moment, it’s something many would like to be implemented as well, based on Google Play Store reviews. The ads that play after each race are optional when taking a closer look, and players can choose whether to watch a 30-second ad for a small currency reward, or skip it altogether. This smart implementation of ads stands out given how most free mobile titles jam them in wherever they please. Overall, ads aren’t a big issue in Music Racer, but I would like to see the developer implement a paid version without any ads at all.
Music Racer is a fun driving experience, allowing players to use songs from their music library to generate a racing track, with a music background to listen to. With this title, the mobile platform has a contender to match the unique setup of Audiosurf on the PC platform. As most have larger music libraries on their phones than on computers, this is a great game to play in short bursts while on the bus or waiting somewhere. With impressive visuals for its small size, and the experience available entirely offline, Music Racer’s quality is comparable to, if not better than many racing games on the platform, even those that come from big name publishers. If the design idea here appeals to you, I can definitely recommend Music Racer to many, and it’s free download doesn’t require any purchase whatsoever, even if presence of ads makes me wish for a premium paid version.