It’s difficult when talking about futuristic racers not to mention the Wipeout series, which has become synonymous with high octane, sci-fi racing across ludicrous tracks. Yet when it comes to bikes a far better comparison would be to a lesser known title that originated on the N64, and that was Extreme-G. VertexBreakers upcoming virtual reality (VR) experience V-Racer Hoverbike feels very much like a modern homage to Extreme-G, and that’s certainly no bad thing.
Tested on HTC Vive – it’ll also be compatible with Oculus Rift – V-Racer Hoverbike is very much a no frills type of videogame in its current form. There were four tracks to choose from across two gameplay modes, Time Trial and Combat Race. The options menu also featured three control configurations when racing, Head, Head and Controllers, and Head, left trigger and right controller. Having tested all three the second option was the easiest to get to grips with, using the triggers for acceleration and braking.
Combat Race is the meat of V-Racer Hoverbike, this is where several opponents can fight it out over a selectable amount of laps using an assortment of weaponry located around the track on coloured bumpers. Unlike the other aforementioned racing titles VertexBreakers courses are much more realistic in their presentation, with no vertical drops or climbs, no loops, or any other gravity bending designs. Actually, if it wasn’t for the fact that you can see the other racers hoverbikes and there are weapons available V-Racer Hoverbike wouldn’t be that far off a normal motorbike simulator.
As for the armaments these are your standard affair, speed boosts, triple missiles, lock-on missiles, mines and shields are all present, offering the usual array of offensive and defensive capabilities. Only one can be used at a time, so holding on to a shield in first is much better than the missiles for example.
Most important however is the feel and control of the actual bike. There are no bike options in terms of various designs or customisation, so every racer has the same making for an equal playing field. Much like an arcade racer where you’re actually sat on a bike, gauging the required amount of lean when entering corners is a fine art yet not too overly precise that the system becomes twitchy and frustrating. While the headset tracking gauges the lean, tilting your head really doesn’t cut it. The seated experience really gets you to move your entire upper body into each corner, making for far more immersive gameplay.
V-Racer Hoverbike is still in its early stages and has yet to feature a definite Steam Early Access release date. If that happens sooner rather than later players will find the makings of a highly competent racing experience. It certainly needs fleshing out – a local party mode is available – with an online multiplayer option as racing against bots is only fun for so long. For bike fans eager to get their hands on a decent VR racing title V-Racer Hoverbike is one to watch out for.