The anti-gravity racing genre may not be as popular as it once was, but that doesn’t mean developers aren’t still creating games for the genre. WipEout Omega Collection recently launched on the PlayStation 4, and while it was a fairly impressive collection, the fact that it focused squarely on the past held it back in some respects. What 34BigThings did is look to the future when crafting Redout: Lightspeed Edition. This is the title that will pick up the mantle of zero-grav racers and carry everything forward.
The game nails intense speed better than any zero-grav racer thus far released. The exceptional sound design – rushing wind, whirring engines – alongside the specific way in which the motion blurs converge to create the most fully realised sensation of breaking the sound barrier. Equal parts exhilarating and terrifying, the speed conveyed on screen in this title is incredible. And things will likely get even more intense, as 34BigThings, confirmed that it is working on PlayStation VR support for the title – it has VR functionality on the PC already – hopefully launching by year’s end.
On the flipside of this, the visceral sensation of speed makes the game feel a little harder to control. There are four speed classes to progress through, and we didn’t really feel comfortable with any of the ship variants until we hit Class II. The first speed class mostly functions as the game’s tutorial, introducing several of the game modes, and easing you into the challenges that are to come. As the game progresses it gets understandably more challenging, but it also gets more creative.
This culminates in our absolute favorite aspect of the game: Boss Races. Boss Races take all the tracks from individual circuits and splice them together into one gigantic track, using portals to take you in and out of different races. This results in races with lap times sometimes north of four minutes, and the constant change of scenery is incredible. Being able to remember the twists and turns of previous tracks is key here as all of these routes smashed together leaves little room for error. And that’s to say nothing of the other racers constantly breathing down your neck. These Boss Races also serve as great showcases for the game's gorgeous environments. While you may not always get to see everything while going 1,000KPH plus, when everything slows down a bit, it’s clear that Redout is a beautiful game. Between wonderfully stylised cityscapes, and an incredibly vibrant colour palette, the title is a feast for the eyes much as it is for the adrenaline boost.
This isn’t to say that the title is flawless. While it functions flawlessly on a technical level, there are a few systems that feel like afterthoughts. The contracts system – which function as challenges to give extra rewards – feels very hastily thrown together. It sets a few parameters for you, telling you to use a specific racer and a specific power-up and then earn a medal on your next race, but it never really feels organic. The problem is that usually the rewards were too good to pass up, but we never really found ourselves enjoying the challenges. It came off like a chore. Not only that, but level progression felt too quick. The top speed class is unlocked at Level 22, which ends up being barely 5 hours worth of racing. The game would have been more satisfying if each speed class was given more room to breathe. Once we were comfortable in one class, it was time to jump into the next one, which felt a little anticlimactic.
One problem that many racing games have is that their soundtracks can end up being somewhat annoying, either by using the same songs too often, or not really being a good fit for the title. It’s exciting, then, that Redout manages to not only have a soundtrack that isn’t annoying, but a soundtrack that is actually just legitimately good. The songs are exhilarating in the heat of the races and pleasant enough outside that environment as well.
The latest in a long line of zero-grav racers, Redout: Lightspeed Edition is one of the best examples of the genre. It takes the best elements from those that came before it, and throws in some of the coolest things we’ve seen out of a racer in some time. The stitched together Boss Races are a particular standout, offering a phenomenal look into many of the tracks from the title all at once. Throw in beautiful level design with an exceptional colour palette, as well as great music and the best feeling of speed in the genre, and Redout comes away with 1st place among zero-grav racers for now.