Game Title: Air Race Speed
Developer: Qubic Games
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 309 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes
Driving games, flying games, simulation games. All of these types of games are pretty rare to see on the PS Vita in recent years. If we talk about Air-based racing and driving/flying games, only one game may game to mind: Wipeout 2048. A launch title and pretty much the last “new” game the world is going to see of the long-running Wipeout series.
Indie games have come and gone that have tried to mimic the genre over on PC and consoles, but nothing on the Vita since really had that “Wipeout Look” so to speak. Well, until last week. One of the more recent Mobile-to-Vita games does have that sort of look, though it’s not exactly the same kind of game.
Here is my review of the flying simulation racing-like game, Air Race Speed!
Due to this game having no story, this shall remain blank.
Genre is hard to really classify for ARS. It acts like a racing game, yet it’s a Time Trial Single Player game. The starting stages act almost like an on-rails flying game, yet more open areas deny that idea later on as well. The best way to describe it is a Time-Trial based Flying Game. Imaging the WRC series, but with fewer vehicles (that fly) and more simplified courses.
The basics of the game is that you go through a stage, trying to clear it in as little time as possible with crashing as few times as possible. You’re thrown into this 3D area in a flying vehicle. There are obstacles that you can crash into, which you must avoid, and rockets you can use to fly at high speeds. The faster you fly, the better chances you have at maintaining high scores and getting more stars when the course is completed. Then the next course unlocks and you repeat this process.
You can unlock new courses with just a single star for the previous course, but the more important thing about getting more stars is ships. When you obtain certain numbers of stars, new ships unlock. Every new ship has better stats, like Top Speed and Thrust Power. This makes further courses easier to do well on to get more stars to unlock better ships and this kind of loops throughout all unlockable ships and courses.
The trick is to not crash. For every crash that happens during a course, you have time added to your overall score. Since Star Ratings are based on overall Course Completion Time, you want to crash little to no times to get 2-3 stars instead of just 1. This is where things get challenging. Some courses you can easily just hold down the thrust the entire time and be fine, but the further you get, the trickier the courses. And with increasingly-fast ships at your disposal, top speed without crashing becomes harder and harder to obtain.
That isn’t to say it’s a crazy-hard game. You can still do pretty well in all 4 tiers of courses if you take the first couple attempts for learning the course and a third or fourth attempt at getting those extra stars once you know your way around. I think it provides a challenge to people not accustomed to this type of game, and a more mild challenge to those that are.
The amount of content is also something to discuss. There are 36 courses in total, and each course takes 1-2 minutes to complete. So, if you just do enough to unlock and complete each course with 1 star, you’re looking at 1-2 hours of playtime, which isn’t a lot. The lower price of $4.99 is nice for this, but it’s still not much. This is more of a “pick up and play 1 course” sort of game than for more in-depth gamers.
This game is a wonderful example of developers knowing and utilizing the PlayStation TV. Air Race Speed has touch controls and tilt controls, yet the game is fully compatible with the PlayStation TV. I have to praise these developers for not pulling excuses for why they don’t hit that Vita TV checkbox (like so many other developers are doing). It is really something when such a small team can do what they can to make it work when big AAA companies won’t.
Controls basically work two ways. Tilt and Button. Tilt controls are as they sound. You tilt the Vita as you fly through courses. You also have button controls. For buttons, you can move your ship around with the D-Pad or Left Analog Stick. You can use X or the Right Analog Stick for your Rocket Boosters. You also have the Circle Button available for utilizing the brakes.
This is another thing. The game sort of throws you under the bus when controls are concerned. Spend a few minutes going through menus and pressing random buttons and you’ll figure it out. However, it would’ve been nice to have some sort of tutorial thrown in, especially in a high-speed flying game.
Visually, players of the Mobile version should be familiar here. There are the occasional jagged edges on the models, but it otherwise looks very colorful and pretty. All of the environments show off sci-fi themes in their own way, from flying through what looks like a ship’s reactor to a constructed tunnel in the middle of the stars.
Audio is there for fans of techno or dubstep. It isn’t especially emphasized on, but it’s enough to keep you a bit interested as you play through each stage.
Finally, presentation. Surprisingly enough, the game plays really well. Load Times are short, and the frame-rate stays very steady and very smooth for the entire experience.
Air Race Speed is perfect for gamers who want a casual pick-up-and-play flying game. The main downsides are the lack of control explanation and not much more than an hour of content. For the casual gamer, though, it’s a fun and colorful experience.