Publisher: 505 Games (PS4 and Xbox One), Nicalis (Switch), 34BigThings (PC)
Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
ESRB: E for Everyone
Becoming aware of Redout via my Steam discovery queue, and Wipeout, the Sony-exclusive racing series of renown, immediately came to mind. After all, the name of one is the inspiration of the other. Notwithstanding, since its initial PC release on Sep 2, 2016, Redout has undergone a host of free and paid changes, including DLC packs and an “Enhanced Edition” that December. The console port of interest here is the “Lightspeed Edition,” which includes most of the DLC from the PC version (currently missing the “Mars” pack).
Redout is a rare game in that it is completely clean.
I am not a “clean” racer, so in this “Boss” race, I bring the repair drone to keep up my structure without exploding.
Upon startup, a female voice begins explaining a lot of Redout’s features; I press through these screens because the information overload is totally unwanted, and I expect that a degree in quantum physics should not be necessary to play a racer, though I would discover that familiarity with physics does help. “Training” in Redout comes in the form of time trials for each track. Of course, players will eventually (or in my case, immediately) want to go as fast as possible to earn a gold rather than a silver or bronze medals, but without rival opponents, one can take it easy to learn the ins-and-outs of a track. The game moves at such a speed that roughly three minutes for the tier I and tier II tracks is not much of an investment in personal time; the more complex in tier III and IV tracks add more additional laps since players will be racing chips twice as fast as the class 1 ships.
What I really want to say here with the laissez-faire training is that there is much to learn in a game where choices in ship type and power-ups significantly impacts results. Every race track has a “pure” form, which means that no upgrades are allowed—this is traditionally my preferred racing style, so only after finishing races and earning a collection of silver medals and winning a “contract”—random chances to gain ships and upgrades for free after fulfilling conditions such as winning three races in a row—did I begin to experiment with upgrades. I wish Redout included, like Gran Turismo, miniature trials of 15-30 seconds each which would demonstrate how active and passive items influence racing performance. I spent a good three hours of racing bouncing off track walls until I traded in my overloaded energy turbine (passively augments energy recharge) for a magnetic stabilizer (handling). I felt like I was driving a completely different game afterward! Short trials demonstrating the perks of all the options would have been wonderful. As things stand, I often lost races that I thought to be near-perfect runs and could never catch the lead car. *shakes fist at the “Lawrence” AI*
Redout divides the racing ships and tracks into four tiers and classes; higher class ships gradually increase in their statistics of acceleration, max speed, grip (handling), structure (health), energy pool, recharge speed (for energy); higher tier races become faster and more treacherous, increasing the difficulty. These elements should be a given to the average gamer, but what ended up kicking me in the teeth however, was the game snatching the training wheels right off at tier III. All of a sudden, I could not stay on the track. It became so bad that I nearly broke the game. 360 degree tunnels are lined with an ideal travel path, but good luck not going around and around and around and around at top speed, only to exit upside-down and off the track. Redout additionally gives those who have been playing too much Mario Kart the middle-finger by introducing jumps that are not self-guided, but players will be required to use the analog sticks to pitch (right stick) and yaw (left stick )while in mid-air. Unfortunately, I found myself triggered from repressed childhood memories of being unable to consistently land my F-14 at the end of Top Gun missions on the NES. I overcame the nightmares of my youth, and began exploiting these sections of track to fly over and past everything and everyone.
Do not pay attention to me. I am just being so bad at the game that I nearly broke it.
Yes, I did manage to actually enjoy Redout—most of it. I began with the high-acceleration, high grip, low energy ESA-AGR Vanguard, a ship that is the most Wipeout-like to me—of course developer 34BigThings knew what they were doing with this ship design! After clearing all the tier I races, I switched teams to the high acceleration, high top speed, low energy Lunare Scuderia GT10 Veloce, which attracted me because the ship’s chassis resembles my all-time favorite flying unit, the VTOL Orca from Command & Conquer fame. Its extremely Italian team name and design also appeals to my penchant for Lamborghini, and evidence of Diablo/Mercialago/Aventador inspiration is strong with this ship. Star Wars fans (not me) will certainly gravitate to Sulha AG Racing, hosting models are are virtually carbon copies of a podracer. Team Conqueror Technologies is for muscle car lovers—great top speed, but good luck with that handling. Koeniggswerth Engineering makes ships that look capsized boats. The squid-like Asera vessels favor anime inspiration and host very Japanese nomenclature.
Reading the promotional materials, Redout boasts a voluminous amount of content, including over 100 races. While it is true that there are that many events and more, these numbers are inflated. Allow me to break down the themes like this: desert, arctic, aquatic, volcanic, jungle, cyber, space, and weird (abstract), give or take a theme or two. Now imagine that each one of these tracks is a long event that takes about six minutes to run a full lap; this would be the game’s “Boss” tracks, and they are by far my favorite events in the game. Yet, Redout divides these “Boss Tracks” into three smaller sections, introducing players to them gradually: one component of a desert track could be a time trial, requiring gamers to post the pole-position time in one out of their three best laps; another component of a desert track might be a traditional race against nine other competitors; the last component of a desert track may take the form of a “Speed” trial, requiring candidates to maintain a high average speed throughout the course. Taking these four race types into account along with the themes, that totals twenty-seven different events, and that is before adding the Tournament race, the classic “series” style race comprising of three events where the racer with the most points at the end wins; Arena races that are like traditional 3-lap races except ships do not regenerate when they crash; Survival races requiring a high number of consecutive laps without crashing while also dodging road hazards such as mines; or of course the aforementioned “Pure” races and “Pure Time Trials.” This is not an exclusive list, but one can still observe the embellished numbers. Outside of Time Trials, Boss, Pure, Tournament, and Speed races, I found the others uninteresting and tedious.
A platinum-trophy Time Trial run. With a class IV ship, it is possible to perform even with mistakes.
Redout is neither remarkable to see and hear nor is it abominable. I am accustomed to enjoying some texture with my race tracks, but the game favors a simpler aesthetic to keep the game running as close to 60 fps as possible, and using lighting to compensate for the lower polygon count. I do wish that there were more songs than “Heat and Havoc” and “On My Own” to get me pumped up to leave my rivals in the wake of my turbo boosts.
A fun race where I suffer multiple crashes, but I make up the time by covering two miles in flight during a big jump. I have come a long way since that video where I could not stay on the course at all, but this takes practice and patience from the player. I still need to improve.
The PC world had long lacked a racer running at break-yer-neck velocity so Redout was welcomed with open arms among the racing community there. However, console gamers are veterans of futuristic racers such as this, especially those from the 90’s, and might be more picky. Priced at about $40, Redout believes itself to be as worthy a racer as the recently-released Wipeout Omega Collection, but without the pedigree. That is a tough cookie to swallow, especially considering that the PC version is oftentimes half price during Steam sales. Nevertheless, console owners will have a competent racer should they choose to go with Redout.
The Bottom Line
Oddly released within a similar window of its direct competition, Wipeout, Redout manages to offer its own brand of break-neck racing, exceeding any possible pretenses of appearing as mere imitation.