Zero Gravity Racing
Redout is the latest high-speed F-Zero-type racer now available on Nintendo Switch as the Lightspeed Edition which includes a bunch of free DLC. With a unique control scheme and tons of single player content, there is enough here to justify the higher $40 price point.
While these are F-Zero/Wipeout style futuristic vehicles and racetracks, gameplay is always based on speed and upgrading as opposed to weapon/item usage. Each race earns cash that can be spent to upgrade ships but also unlock new ones. With a couple dozen vehicles available, each with an extensive amount of detail to unlock, it will take players many hours to see it all. Because there are so many upgrading options, each carrying a high unlocking cost, it is best to stick to just a few ships and upgrade accordingly. The Redout difference, however, comes from both passive and active upgrades. Examples including increasing grip strength or activating repairs. With so many options available but limiting the player to only one of each type, players will need to make the right decision or be forced to grind until something of quality can be unlocked, let alone experiment with trial and error.
Redout ties F–Zero’s shoulder button leaning mechanic to the second analog stick. During tight turns, the player can basically use both analog sticks in tandem to lean even harder into corners. I found myself using both sticks pretty much every turn once I got the hang of it. Luckily, the control scheme is built for this as the remaining shoulder and trigger buttons activate upgrades, breaking, and acceleration.
Redout’s biggest flaw comes from the track design. Instead of featuring wide tracks to accommodate 30 racers like in the later F-Zero games, Redout only supports a handful of vehicles simultaneously. To support this change, each track is very narrow and can be difficult to see what is coming thanks to a lack of a mini-map and detailed turn indicators. Instead, the player has visual access to a simple status bar at the top of the screen that displays where the player is in reference to the finish line. At least there are multiple view points available, each providing a rather different experience. However, due to the high speed of the race, the color blur can be pretty intense for the wrong reasons. Once active at high speeds, the screen looks like a stained glass window, blurry and streaked, which is not ideal when split second reactions are critical for success. Also, until the player has the chance to upgrade a vehicle, the difficulty curve can be pretty steep. Most tracks take around three minutes to complete but the difference between first and third place is usually only a couple seconds.
Instead of competing for points like in most other racers, Redout features numerous winning criteria. While the typical competition against five other AI racers is common, the player will also be tasked with speed trials, last man standing in which the last place racer gets knocked off at each checkpoint, and even pure races that remove all perks installed on the vehicle. The variation is nice although some tasks are more entertaining than others. The energy and boost meters are also important elements that need to be managed at all times. Take too much damage by knocking into walls and you’ll be forced to sit through a restart. After racing for a while, the player will gain access to some boost power, keeping speed at the forefront.
Redout features a techno soundtrack complete with some better than expected vocal tracks. However, there are some odd sound effect choices, like the lack of a sound effect when purchases are made in the main menu. While online multiplayer mode is supported, there are no local multiplayer options available and each track requires an annoying load session before play can begin.
Is Redout the new F-Zero that gamers are desperately craving? No, but it isn’t bad on its own right. Even though it is a bit grind heavy and the controls take some adjustment time, there is some fun to be had with this magnetic high-speed racer despite some obvious flaws.
Also available on PS4 and Xbox One.
On Par With: Tabletop Racing World Tour – Nitro Edition (Switch)
Not As Good As: F-Zero GX
Wait For It: F-Zero X on the N64 Classic