Preview: Radial-G: Proteus – Tubular Racing at Its Most Intense
Just like the original you need to be a VR veteran to handle this.
Tammeka Games’ racing title Radial-G: Racing Revolved has been around as long as VRFocus has, having first previewed the videogame way back in 2014. The futuristic title set on tubular tracks had its official launch in 2016 for PC virtual reality (VR) headsets followed by PlayStation VR in 2017. Indie publisher Things3D has now reinvigorated the franchise for Oculus Quest, with Radial-G: Proteus, offering new visuals but the same frantic gameplay. But does this racer still hold up to today’s standards?
Taking Oculus Link out of the equation – mainly because it’s still in beta – when it comes to racing on Oculus Quest you’re pretty much stuck with VR Karts: Sprint or Rush (at a push). So that leaves the field wide open for a dedicated racer like Radial-G: Proteus to step in and dominate the platform.
However, due to the gameplay design Radial-G: Proteus won’t be for everyone as it definitely falls into the intense/hardcore category of VR gaming. The main hook of the title is its courses which switch between mostly tubular and half-pipe designs – with a few other wibbly wobbly sections thrown in for good measure. This ensures some fairly dynamic racing at points, as trying to find the best racing line on a snaking tube whilst looking for boost pads is an effort in itself.
Thus, you’re never always looking straight ahead in that coned vision most traditional racing videogames fall into. Whether it’s shooting an opponent which could be above you or trying to work out where the track veers off to next, there’s plenty of visual stimuli to keep things entertaining.
It’s when the track switches things up that players may start to feel uncomfortable. The easier tracks don’t tend to include the feature as much but on the medium and harder tracks there are numerous moments where the gravity will change and that tubular track suddenly turns into a half-pipe, flipping your vehicle in the process. The first time this happens can be a little jarring yet subsequent times aren’t so severe. But on the later tracks these moments are far more frequent, which could make those more prone to nausea uncomfortable.
If this is a non-issue for you then Radial-G: Proteus offers plenty of entertainment with several single-player modes including a career to unlock new ships, single races for instant action and lap attacks. At the heart of Radial-G: Proteus is the combat racing, facing off against AI enemies where winning isn’t just about first place. The weapon roster includes mini-guns, mines and heat-seeking rockets, randomly chosen after hitting one of the weapon pads. These pads aren’t easy to spot initially, unlike the bright green boost pads. The tracks are a mixture of vibrant colours and the orange weapon pads just blend in, rather than having a floating indicator of some sort. It’s a minor personal annoyance rather than anything truly game-breaking.
Also worth a mention are the controls. There are two type’s available, standard stick-based controls or a more immersive grip-based design. The former is fairly self-explanatory, with the left stick performing left and right movement – everything else is one the triggers/buttons. Where the second control scheme differs, you can grip two handles inside the craft controlling side to side movement. Certainly a personal choice, the later system didn’t feel as intuitive or responsive as using the stick, which matters a great deal when the tracks can be so erratic.
The biggest worry with Radial-G: Proteus is the lack of multiplayer. Whether it’s going to be a feature later on down the line is unknown currently, although the original Radial-G: Racing Revolved did include a multiplayer option. Racing against AI is fine for a while and online leaderboards do add a competitive edge, yet the racing thrill is always in direct competition.
Radial-G: Racing Revolved is looking like it’ll be a worthy addition to the Oculus Quest library when it arrives later this month. The cel-shaded art style works really well with the futuristic aesthetic and there’s a decent amount of mode/ship variety to offer hours of gameplay. On the other hand, it will be a divisive title and one that probably isn’t suitable to introduce new VR players to right away.