Before you jump into Redout 2 with memories of any other anti-gravity racing game from your youth, know this. Looks can be deceiving – it’s unlike anything else.
For the uninitiated, this is a sequel to 2016’s original, an independently created futuristic racing game for console and PC that flew mostly under the radar but garnered a loyal and dedicated following.
Now it’s back for 2022, following Redout: Space Assault – an intergalactic combat spin-off in 2019 –to once again place ‘AG’ racing at the forefront.
The aim is straightforward – fly, drive or command a ship across a magnetic track and do so quicker than your rivals, which means speeds of up to 2000 km/h. This is all set within futuristic environments and across a lengthy career mode.
Both are significant changes when compared to the first game in the series, created by Italian studio 34BigThings in Turin.
The environments are now luscious, with the vibrance turned up to 11. Before each new location, you are treated to a brief cutscene, explaining the tortuous nature of what you’re about to race on and showcasing their outrageous design.
The bright colours remove the dowdy, dungeon-like, aesthetic of the six-year-old original with a sharpness akin to a bag of Skittles Sours.
This is matched with ever-more extreme layout designs, with sprawling vistas, loop the loops that defy physics and more twists and turns than a soap opera subplot.
There are times when you are blasting along a bright blue track, upside down at a considerable rate of knots before mashing the hyperboost button and entering warp speed. This is Redout 2 at its most visceral. Pavarotti belting out Nessun Dorma in video game form.
It’s hard not to scrunch up your face, lean forward in your seat and narrow your eyelids when witnessing such unadulterated speed.
But getting to this point is not for the faint-hearted and I can’t stress that enough. You need skill, determination and most importantly, patience.
The handling model is key to this challenge, as it’s all about manual control. Now, mercifully, there is a suite of assists and difficulty sliders which you can tinker with, or even leave to automatically decide your fate, yet the core appeal is stripping these away bit by bit.
You must manually control not just the traditional steering with the left analogue gamepad stick, but also strafe side-to-side with the right stick. For quick left-right sections, a well-timed strafe is the quickest way through as opposed to turning the ship.
For tighter turns, you also want to simultaneously turn and strafe to generate a tighter angle, and sometimes you must lift off before entering a curve. Yes, not every corner is flat-out, or maybe it is, but either way, you must learn each track and work out the millimetre-precise turning point, all at over 600mph.
You don’t just jump into Redout 2 and set competitive results, let alone complete the tutorial levels, in one fell swoop unless you are well-versed on the original.
I haven’t even mentioned the pitch control yet, which is also on the right stick and needs moving up or down when a steep incline or decent approaches for maximum velocity. Oh, and the jumps which are sometimes so big that the game becomes a flight simulator.
You must save enough boost to make it over these and balance smashing the left trigger with overheating your steed, as that reduces your health level. So does hitting the barriers, which happens a lot when you’re learning the ropes.
Too many impacts and too much boosting to make up for cornering mistakes will see your ship obliterate into a fireball.
That’s before you progress to the later circuits which have blind jumps where it’s very easy to misjudge the landing and miss the surface altogether. Or the corners without barriers, ending in your inevitable fall into a fiery lava pit the first 30 times you try and complete a lap.
Our favourite type of pie is steak and kidney usually, but here I was eating a lot of the humble variety.
Which is both the barrier to entry and the core appeal. Just like the first game in the series that our John played on the Traxion.GG YouTube channel recently he could see the appeal, but it wasn’t necessarily for him thanks to the punishing difficulty levels.
Redout 2 is not a simulator by definition because hyper-speed craft racing doesn’t exist in the real world. But, if it did, this would be the Assetto Corsa Competizione of this sub-genre.
That means not everyone will enjoy it, but those who do fall deeply, madly, in love with the challenge. To that end, the existing cognoscenti will devour Redout 2.
For them, there’s a truly ginormous career. Not only is the number of races on offer generous, its melded with a star system. Winning a race nets three, second two and third one. You need at least one to complete an event and there’s often a bonus fourth star to aim for by hitting a certain speed or resetting twice in a race.
The more stars you gain, the more future events you unlock. It’s all very straightforward, but due to the punishing difficulty curve and number required to unlock all challenges, it will lead to the repetition of events. Which, you will either see as a pleasure or a chore.
There’s also a vehicle upgrade system, which is equally massive. Complete events and you unlock either mechanical or visual upgrades. The sheer volume of unlockable items will make it feel as if you and your ship are tied together on a journey of progression.
However, the upgrades are only available in a linear fashion. Finish one set event, unlock one set livery. Finish another event, receive nothing, the next a new performance-enhancing propulsor.
I found it a little frustrating to struggle at one event and not know how to unlock a suitable upgrade. You cannot pick and choose which part you’d like to install and there isn’t a points or credit scheme so you can work towards a specific item.
The ponderous nature and lack of freedom for the upgrades is a throwback likely to appease fans of games of yonder, but clashes against the liberating feeling of pulverising speed.
Similarly, the ships are now significantly more detailed and customisable. But it’s not through a livery editor, but rather a set number of predetermined livery styles and colour schemes.
Aside from the main career and single-event arcade mode, there is online multiplayer and once the servers are up and running, there will be a ranked multiplayer mode. An incredible feat for a smaller studio, provided the community is strong enough to sustain the appeal.
Joy is often punctuated by moments of abject failure. This is the point of Redout 2. To keep trying against all odds. With a lack of weapons and the need to learn each corner with cat-like reactions, this is the loyalist’s anti-gravity experience.
That may be a turn-off for many, but for those who persevere, the sense of achievement will more than carry you through.
|16th June 2022
|PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. Nintendo Switch in July
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