You spin me right ’round, baby, right ’round like a record, baby…
I have never been more cautious speeding up in a game than I was with Radial-G: Racing Revolved. Situated in a cockpit with a slew of other racers beside me, my head was firmly facing forward. I couldn’t even fathom looking to my right or left to try and catch a glimpse of my opponents. Then the race starts and it’s either hit the speed boosts or be left in the dust. It’s a feeling of risk and reward that takes into consideration the fact that you’re strapped into a VR headset with actual motion sickness as a potential result.
That is just one of the ways in which Radial-G felt like it understood the technology it was utilizing and how that can influence the game being made. While on the surface it looks like just another futuristic racer that would be a novelty and nothing more, it quickly shows it has plenty going on under the hood. The core game is very arcade-centric as players select a ship to control and maneuver through a cylindrical course – there are no walls to bump into, just opponents. Each track has the same aesthetic, but they occasionally contain hazards like gates that require you to go through the green area versus the red one, or changes in gravity that put you on a track above you for a while.
Speed boosts are spread throughout the map, as well as the ability to speed up on your own at the risk of losing energy for your shields. This introduces the other risk/reward system that affects the entirety of the game. Use all your energy to gain speed and you’ll wind up dead if an opponent unleashes projectiles on you or you just accidentally drive through a red gate. You wouldn’t normally die instantly, but without the energy there to charge your shield you will wind up dead quickly. Standard races don’t see this as much of a problem, but when you start entering other modes like Death Race and Championships, then you’re asking for trouble. I found myself letting off the boost if it wasn’t on the track at a certain point, but by the time the single-player campaign gets to the third tier of challenges, you will have to engage more with the risk/reward systems.
The greatest achievement of Radial-G: Racing Revolved is its understanding of virtual reality. As previously mentioned, it takes advantage of the fact that going faster means there is an increased chance of motion sickness. On top of this, going faster while maneuvering around the cylindrical courses can cause some dizziness. These would be complaints in almost any game, but because the core concept behind Radial-G is to hit neck-breaking speeds and toy with gravity, I couldn’t help but smile at how gleefully they go for it. And I was also never sick from the experience. Mind you, there are moments when PSVR’s spotty tracking makes you wish to play it on a better platform, but those are rare instances in an otherwise consistently stable gameplay experience.
The actual only complaint I have with Radial-G‘s need for speed is that the courses often have uphill segments that make it difficult to prepare for what’s around the bend. While you can look around and see what’s coming up, you can’t do that for the uphill moments. I found myself trying to stand up and look over the hill to see what was happening, which is where bouts of motion sickness are bound to begin.
Playing the game is fun for the most part, with weapons having varying effects that sometimes utilize looking around to aim or just take advantage of the course layout. The more cumbersome issues arise when trying to maneuver a vehicle to a specific speed boost you see or weapon pick up on the track. The problem is that moving left and right wasn’t as responsive as my reflexes. There’s a pinpoint accuracy that feels a little too unforgiving, especially when other racers can appear in front of you after hitting a speed boost, giving you little time to move out of the way before taking damage.
Radial-G is a blast to play though. Even with some minor issues with its tracks and handling, it just provides a feeling of speed in a futuristic setting that sticks with you. The electronic score feels right at home with the neon green and red gates and illuminated pick ups on the course. It also complements the velocity very nicely. My biggest gripe is that there is no real online community on PSVR, leaving me with no opportunity to dabble in the game’s mechanics with other players online. It’s a shame, but the single player holds up enough to recommend the game for VR owners who need their speed fix.
Radial-G: Racing Revolved
- Races move really fast, providing a thrilling sensation
- Risk/reward system of speed versus shields is crucial and interesting
- Electronic soundtrack matches futuristic setting and high velocities
- Plenty of different single player modes
- Going uphill feels like a an unavoidable risk every time
- Requires pinpoint accuracy to maneuver to some pick ups