RGX Showdown's promise of a new arcade racer from the creators of Burnout and Split/Second is a fairly empty one. It's a minuscule indie racing game with some impressive talent behind it, and while it certainly evokes elements of your old favourites, it isn't really in the same class.
RGX Showdown's online only races see you facing off in head to head sprints from A to B, tearing across futuristic highways in anti-gravity vehicles. Every hour, a new tournament begins, and you're tasked with climbing the leaderboard by competing in breathlessly short races. As they're only two player, it's either win or lose, and those odds provide a nice tension to each competition.
As you win more and more races in a row, your multiplier will increase, so you're encouraged to keep the wins coming in order to climb the table much faster. The higher your rank, the more rewards you'll earn when each tournament is over. It's a simple setup, and because the races are over so quickly and tournaments only last an hour, it's an easily digestible game you can play for 30 minutes or all afternoon.
Ahead of each race, you're able to enable some mods to improve your car's speed, acceleration, handling, or boost. You've only a limited number of mod points you can put towards these, but they're reset if you lose a race, so there's little risk in making use of them. Behind the wheel, the action is twitchy and fast. After a boosted start, your job is to cross the finish line first while dodging and weaving through traffic. Drafting behind your opponent and netting near misses with pedestrian cars builds up your boost bar, but there's always the risk of crashing into someone's rear end. This cuts your boost and, more often than not, puts you behind, but you're always kept relatively close to your rival racer. The handling is responsive, but scoring near misses sort of magnetises you to the other vehicle, and it's not always clear when you've actually performed one.
Also, the tracks all seem to take place in the same location, making for incredibly samey races. There are also no big turns to worry about; the courses are unimaginative and pretty dull, with traffic more or less the only obstacle between you and the checkered flag. However, because of the breakneck pace and extremely short nature of the races, your attention is in constant need, so it's hard to be bored. As you compete in tournaments, you'll start unlocking new cars in a number of speed classes, all of which can be customised with liveries and paint jobs if you've earned enough currency from races.
Off the track, the game is a little rusty. The menus are okay but there's a loading screen between almost everything, which makes it feel quite clunky. It also appears that, if you quit out half way through a tournament, you won't be able to collect whatever winnings you'd accumulated, so you'll need to see it to the end to claim your prizes. Also, despite being an online multiplayer game, there doesn't appear to be any way to play directly with your friends. Frankly, it feels like a game in early access, especially with its inconsistent performance and AI opponents filling the gaps in lobbies.
RGX Showdown is a valiant effort in doing something unique with arcade racing, but the results are hit and miss. The frenetic, head to head races will provide some thrilling chases, and the drip feed of rewards for successive victories can be addictive, but it lacks polish. The presentation is rough around the edges and it feels pretty bare-bones, but there is the seed of a good idea here.