A loving tribute to F-Zero and WipEout, Redout 2 is a blisteringly fast racer that aims to appeal to hardcore fans and newcomers.
When big name studios stop making certain types of games, despite loud fan demands, indie developers have always filled the void. Anyone who complains about Konami not making Castlevania games anymore has countless indie homages to turn to instead, such as Hollow Knight and Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night. While the lack of mascot driven 3D platformers led to the likes of Yooka-Laylee and A Hat In Time being successfully crowdfunded.
Redout 2 is another example, being developer 34BigThings’ answer to the continued absence of Nintendo’s high speed sci-fi racer F-Zero. That series hasn’t had a new entry in nearly 20 years and Nintendo’s refusal to bring it back, beyond the occasional retro re-release, has been a sticking point with fans for a long time.
Italian developer 34BigThings is keenly aware that demand is there and while it’s not an exact copy, Redout 2 wears its F-Zero influences on its sleeve. Some might take issue with the comparisons, since technically futuristic racers are a distinct sub-genre of their own, that F-Zero did not invent, but 34BigThings is proud to admit to its inspirations, while also namedropping Sony’s WipEout series.
A sequel to the 2016 original, the premise of Redout 2 is, like all racers, very simple. The blistering sense of speed is helped by a combination of slight screen blurring, sound effects, and controller rumble and there is nothing more satisfying than managing to maintain a high level of speed as you barrel down a racetrack. However, while there are various methods of going fast, it’s not something the game wants to make too easy; you need to work at it.
Upon starting up the game, you’re thrown into a tutorial after the opening cut scene; one that gives a very simple rundown of the controls. Fortunately, a slightly more in-depth one can be found in the career mode (which is where you’ll likely be spending most of your play time). Redout 2’s control scheme is incredibly simple though: one button accelerates, one lets you boost, and one offers a temporary hyper boost.
Surprisingly, there’s no drifting. Instead, you use the right stick to strafe, allowing you to slide left and right along straight paths, to hit upcoming boost pads and help you turn round corners. It may sound a bit weird, but the controls are very intuitive and easy to learn.
The right stick is also used for pitching up and down slopes and loops. Not doing so causes you to lose speed and the game to flash an angry red at you, but this feels like an unnecessary extra step to the gameplay that could be removed and not upset anything.
As simple as the control scheme is, you’re not going to master it after only a few races. It’s relatively easy to pick up speed during straight stretches but it’s equally easy to bump into and grind along the edges of the track as you turn tight corners – which feels more WipEout than F-Zero. Early on, there wasn’t a single race where we didn’t find ourselves doing this multiple times due to not knowing when exactly to start turning, but it was immensely satisfying whenever we managed not to.
Aside from costing you speed, bumping into walls can chip off your vehicle’s health. While there are no combat mechanics like weapons or items (which is more like F-Zero) vehicles can take damage and be destroyed. Most of the time this will be because you’ve flown off the track itself (which is instant death, though you do respawn) or overused the boost.
Unlike other racers, there’s no boost gauge you need to fill up before you can use it. You can start boosting whenever you want but doing so for too long will cause your vehicle to overheat and take damage. However, there is a gauge below the health bar that fills up as you boost. Once it’s full, you overheat, although the game will set off a warning siren to let you know, since all your focus will be on the race itself.
The hyper boost uses the same gauge, so while it’s tempting to use it immediately, after boosting regularly, it risks causing you to blow up. Hyper boosts can be cancelled by pressing the button again or tapping the brake, but you’ll then need to wait for it to charge back up before it can be used, as indicated by a glowing green circle next to the gauges.
Despite the game’s warnings, however, it often feels like you need to defy common sense and be willing to take hefty damage if it means getting in front of your opponents. Fortunately, health does restore over time, either on its own or by hitting certain checkpoints along the track (we think; we weren’t entirely sure what was restoring our health and the game never outright explains it, which is odd).
The lack of any means of attacking opponents means that whether you win or lose is determined entirely by skill. If you fall too far behind, there’s no Mario Kart blue shell or lightning bolt to help you catch up. If you want to win, you need to master the mechanics. This extends to knowing exactly where and when to boost; doing so as you come up to a sharp turn means you’re probably going to ram into the side of the track and lose any momentum you had.
That said, Redout 2 attempts to be as welcoming as possible to newcomers. It offers six different difficulty options and all manner of customisation options. There’s even optional AI assistance in case you find yourself really struggling with the controls. Playing the tutorial adjusts this automatically but you can mess with the sliders yourself.
One thing that can’t really be altered, however, is how visually stimulating races can get, which is very much a double-edged sword in Redout 2. On one hand, the game’s visuals are excellent and there is a decently varied range of locales to race through. While the racetracks are spread across a range of locations and themes they all stand out aesthetically and aren’t just different kinds of neon, futuristic cites.
You have the bright blues and greens of the more nature themed Mount Fuji tracks and the harsh, blistering reds of the Tartarus Mines but they’re mostly window dressing since the majority of racetracks are on the winding, man-made loops that run through these locations. They’re all visually striking in different ways, though, and some also offer unique, albeit simple, set pieces and hazards. The Mariana Trench tracks, for example, will often have you going underwater.
The downside is that the tracks can get too visually busy. It’s not uncommon to be unable to tell what’s coming up, even with the handy signs that flash up whenever you’re approaching a turn or a loop-the-loop. This is especially true when you’re going fast, which is the very thing the game most encourages. The aforementioned Tartarus Mines, for instance, are very dark and, combined with the red of the lava and how fast you’re going, first timers will regularly fly off the edge of the track.
Some locations also change the gravity, which has a significant affect on air travel. There’s no flight in Redout 2, but a lot of the tracks will have moments where you zoom off the road and need to essentially glide to the next stretch of land. You use the right stick to adjust your pitch and the directional buttons to adjust your angle, to try and land as perfectly as you can, which will grant you a speed boost if you succeed – or greatly damage your vehicle if you fail.
These moments can be disorienting, especially on the more complex layouts, but we weren’t fond of the complete lack of gravity on the Genesis tracks. It feels near impossible to land at all and made us wish this was a gimmick we could turn off.
Plus, for as much as Redout 2 attempts to attract newcomers, there’s quite a bit that its tutorial never explains. It never once extolled the virtues of braking, yet we eventually found pumping the brakes was essential for tight corners. The hyper boost cancelling was also something we had to discover ourselves. There’s even a respawn mechanic that freezes time and lets you rewind the game, which we only learned by looking in the options menu.
On paper, that sounds like a cheat mode, since it lets you undo any crashes or mistakes, but we found it to be a godsend. It’s not so broken that you can win any race with it (there’s only so far back you can rewind to), and it won’t help you catch up if you’ve already fallen behind. Furthermore, the higher difficulties limit how many times you can use it and it’s excluded completely from certain gameplay modes like time trials.
If you decide to stick with Redout 2, you’ll be pleased to know that the game is jam-packed with content, especially in its single-player career mode. Its split between five segments (including the tutorial) and each contains a host of challenges to complete and earn stars from. Between all five, there are well over 1,400 stars to earn, meaning Redout 2 is perfectly suitable as an arcade style racer for solo players with little interest in taking their skills online.
There’s admittedly little variety to the challenges on offer and no real story connecting any of it (beyond some pretty superfluous worldbuilding that we barely absorbed – no one’s going to be talking about Redout 2 lore). There are six different gameplay types, ranging from standard races and time trials to speed challenges and boss races that combine three racetracks into one.
To start with, you’ll only have one vehicle to choose from and earning enough stars will reward you with new ones and loadouts that affect a vehicle’s stats (top speed, steering, durability etc.). There are only 12 to choose from (with more to come as DLC), but you can also acquire a ridiculous amount of liveries and cosmetics for each one, that can radically change their appearance.
Despite multiplayer seeming to be a big focus for the game, it’s handled rather strangely, at least at launch. No local multiplayer whatsoever is already a let-down, but Redout 2’s online matchmaking had us perplexed. At the time of writing, only unranked multiplayer is available, which is for casual, friendly races between strangers.
For whatever reason, joining an unranked race doesn’t mean waiting for enough people to fill a lobby and race together. Instead, you’ll find yourself in a race that’s already in progress. Every time we played online, we’d be at the back of the pack with the race already on its second of three laps and we were just left to it. We never even got to finish a race; it seems whenever someone comes first, everyone else only has so much time to do so before being disqualified.
On a positive note, matchmaking was quick, and we didn’t have any performance issues (it’s honestly impressive how Redout 2 retains 60 frames per second even online, with how fast it can get), but it’s such a bizarre way of handling multiplayer that it almost doesn’t seem worth doing at all. We assume this isn’t the case when you set up a lobby with friends, as well as ranked play whenever it becomes available.
For all its foibles, Redout 2 does succeed at what it’s trying to do. Even during moments where we struggled to learn track layouts and kept banging into walls, managing to reach blistering speeds was always exhilarating, especially when we just barely snatched first place.
The steep learning curve will be off-putting to those looking for a more casual racing experience but for fans of the first game, and the likes of F-Zero and WipEout, Redout 2’s wealth of single-player content will keep you more than satisfied.
Redout 2 review summary
In Short: A successful tribute to F-Zero and WipEout where going fast never stops being fun. Its surprisingly meaty career mode more than justifies the price tag but it may struggle to win over more casual racing enthusiasts.
Pros: Easy to understand controls. Lots of customisation, both for gameplay and the vehicles. Career mode will keep you busy for hours. Incredible visuals, even at high speed.
Cons: Not as welcoming to newcomers as it thinks, with a very steep learning curve. A couple of unwanted mechanics and gimmicks. Multiplayer options are weirdly limited at launch.
Formats: PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and PC
Publisher: Saber Interactive
Release Date: 16th June 2022 (July on Switch)
Age Rating: 7
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