Future Racer Hands’ On Preview – Back to the Future?

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Race fans, you have another dimension to explore if you want speed: The Future. Actually, I am not quite sure that the Future qualifies as a new dimension, but Assyria Game Studio‘s new title certainly qualifies as an interesting take on future racers. In the tradition of F-Zero, it is sci-fi esque, fast, and streamlined; but it also follows the 3D style of more modern racers like any of the myriad Star Wars Pod Racer clones. As in all racers, your basic mission is to beat each level with the best time and best placement: two details which require some leg-work. Strap in folksies, we is goin’ for a ride.

Got this from Assyria Games Studio’s Facebook page: Future Racer will be only 99 cents!

Assyria Game Studio, Future Racer, 0.99$, 55.4 MB
Future Racer

Future Racer bares its balls by offering really really fast speeds. Try 320 mps (metres per second) on for size. Using the handy (and free) Convertbot, that number translates into 1152 kilometres per hour, or a hell of a lot faster than you can run, and faster even than my on-the-flat sprints. While buzzing passed other racers is lightning fast, the menu items are similarly optimised for speed (though I think, inadvertently).

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You have few options to choose from: basic volume and game reset. Since there is no save slots in Future Racer, I can understand the latter, sort of. There isn’t a carrier mode in Future Racer, no upgrades or real choices. Resetting the game may be just what you need to get your head back in the game. Remember, driving and gaming are psychological efforts. But the efforts that Assyria Game Studio made to make Future Racer sleek are mostly skin deep. The menu, an important part of any game not only lacks depth, but is also similarly lacking from gameplay. Once you start, you are in till you either quit to the summer board or fall out of favour in the race.

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Exiting the options menu, FutureRacer remains a sparcely adorned game which routes you quickly into fast racing. Make no mistake about its – speed is king. There are certain goals to complete which can be seen from the trophies room and each level can be beaten in a number of ways. As with all racers, by coming in first place, you basically ‘beat’ the level. Otherwise, there are certain cheaty powerups which Assryria have added into the game. They are what I was referring to above by Future Racer requiring some ‘leg work’.

Powerups, like the menu, are meagre in quantity, but laid quite generously about each course. There are speed ups, super speed ups, time drops and super time drops. Collecting them is the hard part – controls in Future Racer need some tweaks. From the most lumbering of vehicles to the sleekest, turning is difficult. It could be based on the physics of hovercraft, but this game isn’t bound to mere lift and momentum principles. Ships turn too wide and make use of a non-tweakable control scheme. You can turn your ship by rotating the iDevice on its X-Axis or Z-Axis. What this means is that if you tilt to the left or right, you ship will turn. The same is true by pushing the device from either corner. There isn’t yet a controlled way to calibrate your ship to your driving style. While this is par for the course for many apps, it gets annoying when too many developers rely on absolute methods which make gaming difficult. My version has also got a lilt. Even resting my iPod touch on a perfectly (tested and confirmed) level table, my ship turns to the right.

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But that is okay. Future Racer is fun, and when handled within its own context, a decently performing racer. Controls take time to master, and considering their indefinite scheme, may never be forefront in the game. Music however, is great. Whether you like electronic beats or not, the tunes are up-tempo, match the race style and universe, and most importantly, are not repetitive. There are many songs, not just a handful of three or four which make the game a signature sound. Assyria Game Studio have spend much of their magic creating a good soundtrack that no matter personal bias, will stand the test of time. There simply isn’t a way to really exhaust the system.

Graphics are as often, a mixed bag. Smart and clean, they look great. Load screens are great – artwork is impressive, but needs to be used more throughout the game. But, even on an iPod touch 2G (the former speed king), they are sluggish. Think of the performance of Crash Bandicoot – you will find similar benchmark performance with Future Racer.

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There also isn’t a good way to exit from the game. Start, play and run. If you lose, you can restart or quit to the main menu. Good luck though if there isn’t a death gap or clever opponents. Assyria Studio Games need to implement a few very important features to make this game really worthy: a varied control scheme, in-game menu options, race lines; without these options, Future Racer is just another racer with decent to okay graphics, a stuttering framerate and cool music soundtrack.

It is easily a fun game, but it has a lot to overcome if its ad hoc copy is similar to its final build. Saying that, Future Racer has pushed me into a bit of nostalgic gameplay. Fast and artfully designed, Assyria Studio Games’ title is in some ways, the F-Zero of a new age. As long as they can correct a few mistakes, they will have a winning game on their hands. But at 99 cents, its hard to resist!

There are a good lot of interesting racers at the App Store. No one can keep up with their paces, but we try:
Real Racing in ReviewArtificial Life and Red Bull RacingNeed for Speed Undercover in Review

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