Hovercars In Oblivion: Radial-G: Racing Revolved

“What if instead of the track we just had a massive tube in space?” says one executive of the failing Formula 1 to the other, sometime in the future. “With hovercars and casual disregard for safety!” he continues, getting worked up. Thus, Radial-G: Racing Revolved is born in all its alliterative glory, a high-speed racer about desperately trying to not fly headlong into oblivion. It’s been on Early Access for a couple of months, just had a major recent update and I’ve had a little play.

Radial-G isn’t dull, but it hasn’t yet got verve to match the high concept. It’s not for lack of speed – once you really get going and manage to hit a few of the ramps or boosters in a row, the track, other cars and obstacles begin to fly past almost imperceptibly. It’s more that it feels empty for much of the time, not enough to distinguish one minute of holding the accelerator from another. Once the initial pack of opponents breaks up, they’re too sparse to keep regularly in view and provide a goal to stay or get ahead.

The other problem is that it’s an arcade racer without the weapons, insane tracks or customisation you’d expect. The course concept is cool, but hasn’t yet been used to its full potential, instead removing the challenge of corners or staying on the track without satisfactory skill or entertainment replacements. Compare to something as easily accessible, immediately fun and never dull as BlazeRush, now a common sight at my local LANs.

In the rocky wilds of Early Access, Radial-G is a solid base to build upon rather than a bugged-out mess, and that might be something to pay attention to. It’s not a stunner now, but it may well be with more tracks, more cars, more options and a larger online community. It also feels like something that will have new life once you really know the courses and how to take the best route between boosters and when to sacrifice safety for speed.

It’s also VR enabled when played in first person, which you can see a bit of here:

Grab it on Early Access.

19 Comments

  1. Guvornator says:

    Hmm, my experience’s with F-Zero GX’s Fire Field track would suggest that cylindrical tracks = a right pain in the arse. In fact I can see a lot of F Zero GX all over this. Hopefully there’s more to it than just a straight rip.

    • Risingson says:

      Well, the obvious reference is Bullfrog’s Tube, I’d say.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Reminds me of an obscure indie game I played once, but can’t for the life of me remember the name of. Japanese I think. High-speed, cylindrical tracks, shooting, neon colours and simple 3d shapes. Confound it all, this’ll keep me up for days. My kingdom to the first commenter who can fill in the blank!

      • Guvornator says:

        Tube was all inside the tube, wasn’t it? Fire Field was outside, which meant all sorts of horrid things, including spinning around the outside of the pipe, especially if you tried to nudge an opponent.

    • The First Door says:

      I rather enjoyed Fire Field, but I think the reason I enjoyed it is because it was only one of the tracks in the game, so it was a novelty. Plus, it seemed to go much, much, faster than this game!

  2. iainl says:

    Oooh, is it time for another wipEout vs. F-Zero fight? Because while the latter may well have some perfectly valid reasons to exist, the former has my heart and just feels more “right” to fly. Partly because it does feel light flying; F-Zero always feels like they just forgot to draw the wheels and mud on their rally game.

      • The First Door says:

        It somewhat disturbs me that I still know that track off by heart and even thought while watching it “isn’t this the bit with the slow down and/or ice?”

      • Hypocee says:

        So is that an advanced track? I like arcade and crazyspeed hover racers and have 100%ed three Wipeouts and I know GX gets a lot of credit from fellow aficionados, but I’ve bounced off it the couple of times I’ve tried to get in. What jumps out at me through that whole video is that the player never gets within a mile of a wall. Fine, I suppose crashing isn’t supposed to be a threat and it’s more about pure speed. Great! But if it’s about speed they should still be grazing walls when apexing turns, and they just don’t. That one little chicane gets sort of apexed once, possibly by accident, and actual turning is done very infrequently in short corrections. There never seems to be any clawing to fit the turning circle into a corner at the perfect speed. So OK, maybe it’s about hitting the boost pads, but they seem to have aaaages, whole seconds running straight, to correct in between even the most frequent strings.

        How do you screw up and go slow in F-Zero GX? Or is this just a baby track?

        • Guvornator says:

          It’s the last track of the first GP, so tougher baby tracks, as it were. Plus, frankly that’s not a great exhibition of F-Zero driving. But the tracks do tend to be wider, as, with 30 ships on tracks, you do tend to be in danger of ramming someone’s tailpipe the whole time.

    • Hypocee says:

      It’s really funny to me you say that, because to me what makes Wipeout great is its rally roots. In general you’re riding the edge of grip and deciding whether and when to enter the airbrake’s analogue to the controlled drift, then balancing the thrust and drag through the turn in a similar manner to weight shift and power in a rally turn. By contrast F-Zero seems like Formula One – there’s the occasional turn that could unstick you but you mostly have all the downforce in the world to run on rails, and it’s more about drafting for speed and maneuvering for position against the other drivers. And if they’re not around, well. Do what you will, you don’t have the speed to get into trouble.

    • Razumen says:

      They’re such differently designed games it’s almost unfair to compare them. Wipeout is much more focused on the physicality of essentially piloting a hovering rocket, what with all the necessary corrections for drifting around corners, accidentally flying off the track because you went too fast, etc. Not to mention the weapons. To me it feels much more floaty and loose than F-Zero, while but that’s not a bad thing, because it requires a different style of piloting and racing.

      F-Zero on the other hand is all about control – the cars go crazy fast, but flying off the track from too much speed is a lot less likely, instead you’re given a lot more control drifting (to the point there’s actually two methods of drifting.) with corners that would be impossible in Wipeout at the speeds you have to achieve them in F-Zero. The lack of weapons also means you can focus more on driving. There is a spin/side dash attack admittedly, but I never really was any good at it, preferring instead to improve my racing skills.

  3. Hypocee says:

    I sort of wonder whether the demo video is played too well to show what can happen? I’d imagine you can hit a jump at the wrong angle, be unable to steer back to the track and sail off. But then Ben says his hands-on time never felt like that was a threat, so I dunno.

    I like the bits where they’ve got multiple tracks next to each other. With good track and physics design I can imagine a series of sections where track A is fastest, then jump to B, then C, B, A, C and so on. With better design, oh, that would be the ideal sequence but one of the jumps is only available from A, do you gain more than you lose by taking the slower track to get to two faster segments, or some of the jumps can only be made if you’re carrying really good speed. With great design the jumps and landings could be done on the edge of the performance envelope and you’d have to make your decisions in the moments before them. Maybe all that happens!

    The reference it’s competing with for me is another spin through Ballistics Supersonic Racing, the only game ever to make an onlooker gasp and jerk back from my then-current 21″ CRT monitor in shock as we burst out and dove through Sky City or whatever. You are also routinely able to go simply too fast not for grip in a given corner but for human reflex and memory in a given series of obstacles, and expected to actually manage your speed in each part of the track yourself.

  4. Cerzi says:

    As a VR game, the demo was incredible. The track itself makes it clear to see this game was designed for VR – looking up through the glass roof of your craft to order to look at the track ahead (which is shooting up at a right angle from your movement vector).

    Despite playing the hell out of the demo after getting my Rift, I haven’t splashed on it yet as it still seems pretty minimal content-wise. However, I know it’s going to be the looked back on as being one of the first examples of a game that really takes VR and uses it in an interesting way – and for that reason I’d even go so far as to say that reviewing it as solely as a non-VR experience would be missing the point.

  5. Koshinator says:

    Saying that the game removes the skill of taking corners isn’t true at all… It takes skill to stay on the inside line of a corner (which is the fastest course). The other main thing for the game is the VR mode – The implementation is perfect, one of the best I’ve seen so far.

  6. fuggles says:

    I recall ballistics by Grin involved shooting down a tube with no maximum speed… is tube racing a sub-genre, no doubt pioneered by Toobin’?