Preview: Radial-G

A super-fast futuristic racing videogame. Players take on the roles of pilots as the battle for position on tracks comprised entirely of cylindrical tubes. Nudging against rivals as they aim for the boost pad or in a vindictive endeavour as you barge them into a speed-down zone; this may sound like a familiar experience. And this is most certainly Tammeka Games’ intention. However, there is an ace up the indie team’s sleeve: virtual reality (VR).

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Most people will shout ‘F-Zero!’ when they first see Radial-G, others will suggest a WipEout association. Fewer still will opt for Extreme-G as their benchmark. The choice of comparative title is essentially an indication of your own personal heritage; the consoles you grew up with and the entertainment experiences you chose to allow become a part of your spare time. All of the above would be correct however, as Radial-G offers more than a passing resemblance to this specific breed of futuristic racer.

During VRFocus‘ exclusive access to the videogame just one track and one vehicle were available to play. This may seem overly restrictive – and it was – however it did allow for a welcome first taste of the gameplay on offer. Radial-G is fast, but not so fast that it becomes awkward or even annoying to control. Using an Xbox 360 control pad the player can glide through corners and surf around the large tube upon which your craft hovers. Angling for the short turn on the corners and moving across the breadth of the track for the floor-level boosts will become instinctive before the first lap is through; Radial-G is well positioned to take advantage of the inherent knowledge earned through years of playing it’s inspiration.

The minutiae of the gameplay sees you building speed through hitting successive boost panels, able to gain up to three increases which are semi-permanent and failing only when you hit a red wall, which removes all collected boosts. Such a simple design allows players to work up a decent pace in no time at all but also makes them cautious about their position on the track; given that Radial-G conveys a genuine sense of speed it’s the forethought that goes into surveying the track ahead that will aid the reduction of lap times. And of course, this is where the Oculus Rift compatibility comes into play.

Radial-G was demonstrated to VRFocus on an Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD). It is possible to play the videogame without a HMD, though as the experience was designed for VR there’s obviously a piece of the puzzle that will be missing. In VR the player is able to look around their cockpit, into the distance and around corners. With VR, the player can plan their strategy two corners ahead as they can turn their head and see the track before it comes into a traditional proscenium arch view. It’s a very interesting addition to the otherwise traditional gameplay, and most certainly the strongest card in Radial-G‘s hand.

Other proposed features include a world ranking system and multiplayer gameplay. While the ideas that Tammeka Games have fuelling both of these features sound interesting, neither of them were available for VRFocus‘ preview. When new details on these assets, and other components of Radial-G, become available VRFocus will most certainly keep you updated.

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