Preview: Radial-G

Progress, when it comes to developing a videogame in the public eye, can be a doubled-edged sword. Revealing your on-going project at an early stage can set expectations, but with every subsequent update that bar is raised. Tammeka Games, now rushing towards Steam Early Access with their virtual reality (VR) centric racing title, Radial-G, are sure to suffer from this issue as with each new build the distance between debut and showcase grows.

To put a finer point on it, Radial-G is now a videogame that looks the part. In it’s first instance it was an exciting prospect that looked set to bring F-Zero style thrills to VR for the very first time. In the latest build VRFocus has had the opportunity to get hands-on with that potential has been realised. It’s slick, fast and polished. It may just be a sample of what is still to come, but the expectation that Tammeka Games will deliver an experience on par with AAA titles will surely be both a blessing and a curse.

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For the uninitiated, Radial-G is a tube-based racing videogame. The player takes control of a futuristic vehicle and aims to reach incredible speeds through the use of the plentiful boost pads and, new to this build, a boost feature which trades-off shield life. However, there are also countermeasures that will reduce your speed if collided with, so positioning on each of the tubes is vital. Players must go into every corner knowing exactly what they’ll be up against coming out the other side; a design decision which is clearly playing to the opportunities VR brings. Being able to turn your head to look what’s coming up around the next corner without having to move your vehicle to get a better look is one of the greatest aspects of Radial-G‘s VR design.

In the preview build, Radial-G offers just 3 vehicles and one gameplay mode. Each of the craft handles noticeably different – the Onyx is an unwieldy beast that pushes fast but doesn’t seem to benefit greatly from manual boost, the Hound is a bulky craft with an outrageous top speed while the Viper is a much more friendly vehicle; quick to maximum speed and easy on the handling while there – offering a promising microcosm of the rides that will potentially be available further down the line.

The 3 tracks present offer a similar theme. There is very little variation in visual design and the building blocks seem to have been brought in from the same palette as, according to Tammeka Games, they are all intended to be a part of the same environment. Dead Zone and Processing Plant feature flip switches that propel you onto an outer surface and back again (so long as you hit the return) while Asteroid Sprint regularly holds you above ground for several seconds after hitting a ramp; a genuine thrill in VR that few other racing titles have yet been able to simulate.

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Radial-G‘s simple early demo alluded to the tense thrill ride that the videogame has now become. Evolution from this point requires more: more tracks, more vehicles, more gameplay modes and more spectacular, varied background effects. All of this, VRFocus is confident that Tammeka Games can not only achieve but are most likely already working on. Expectations, then, are sure to increase. Radial-G is fast and fun, and in VR it’s standing tall amongst many hopefuls that simply can’t match it’s visual clout. There’s still a long road to go for Tammeka Games, but investing in Radial-G at this early stage is a commitment that’s more than likely to prove bountiful in the long run.

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