[Disclosure: A review key was provided for the contents of this article]
Although there have been many attempts to recreate the blistering pace of Wipeout and the soaring, sci-fi majesty of F-Zero, few games have reached the necessary standard, and none have achieved the same cult following of either of these seminal titles. Redout is an anomaly; the exception that proves the rule. It is faster and more beautiful than Wipeout has ever been (including in the recent and magnificent Omega Collection) and the colourful, diverse and imaginative tracks often surpass those of 2003’s F-Zero GX.
Whilst it is undoubtedly designed in the mold of these classic racers, Redout has a party piece of its own, which is its speed. The fiction indicates that in game vehicles reach speeds of around 1,000 kilometres per hour, but that’s irrelevant without the visual sensation to accompany it, and Redout has this in spades. Buildings, mountains and neon-lit scenery zips past in an absolute blur, and whilst I can’t measure the frame rate (I tested on a PS4 Pro) I can say that it is as close to flawless as I have seen in any racing game, ever.
The graphics are deliberately simplified to accommodate for this, but they are also strangely attractive. There is a simplicity to them that becomes all too obvious when stationary, but once in full flight, you immediately know why. Regardless of how basic some of the visuals seem, the imaginative effort on display in Redout is considerable, and whilst each of the tracks has a similar, narrow feel, the locations in which they are set is as different as chalk and cheese. A dusty interpretation of Cairo is included, as is a beautiful, bleak Alaska. Europe is an almost Atlantean, underwater vision of an alternative future, and even that seems pedestrian compared to racing through mountains flowing with lava.
You’ll see each of these tracks many times in the solo campaign, but with six different vehicle manufacturers and four classes of ship to work through, plus a handful of reasonably varied racing modes to experience, you’re unlikely to get bored. That is, as long as you find the core mechanic of racing at breakneck speed interesting. Modes include Time Trials, Races and Elimination style events that can be played with or without power ups, and there are even some boss events that chop and change the tracks in unpredictable ways, meaning that no amount of repetition will fully prepare you. All in, I counted about ten different modes, and there are about a hundred events to play through in the solo campaign.
As for handling, this is another area in which Redout excels, and in my opinion, in which it is far superior to Wipeout. The control system is simple and yet surprisingly powerful, with normal movement controls for acceleration and braking, with the addition of a strafe feature via the second analogue stick. If you strafe at the same time as you turn, your ship will turn more tightly, whilst if you strafe away from an upcoming corner as you turn into it, your ship will initiate an intuitive feeling power slide that is useful on some kinds of turn. This kind of nuance is something I really loved about Redout, and whilst I had to learn it for myself (in game tutorials are lacking) it felt incredibly rewarding to master.
There is also a decent upgrade structure in place that takes provides players with enough choice to be interesting, but not so much that it detracts from the simplicity of the gameplay. Effectively, each craft can equip one passive and one active upgrade, and there are about ten of each, which can then be enhanced in line with several tiers. To do so requires credits, and these can be spent either on the upgrades on the enhancements, or on other ships. This means that as you advance through the lengthy campaign, you will always have your eyes on the next ship or upgrade, and each will subtly change the way you play.
Multiplayer modes include both vertical split screen and online play, with the focus probably being more on the latter, which supports up to twelve players. It’s nice to have a split screen option, but the often technical gameplay can make it hard to have a casual game, whilst online, it’s just hard to find a game. Indeed, sadly for Redout, I wish it had the marketing budget to match games like Wipeout, because a lack of user awareness is probably all that separates it from greatness when it comes to online play. Often, I simply failed to pick up an opponent online (which might be because of how early in life it is) and when I did, I rarely managed to fill a game completely.
Redout is a fabulous looking, incredibly fast and intense game, and it’s also a lot of fun. It has a huge, deep and largely interesting campaign set across numerous, interesting levels. The gameplay really sets the pulse racing, and fans of this genre are in for more than just a treat, because this is probably the best example of a game of this kind that I’ve ever come across. Online multiplayer is solid (when you can find a game) and split screen multiplayer is very welcome, even though you’ll rarely use it. It has a techno soundtrack that is perfectly fitting (but not really worth calling out as a feature) and it has diverse ships, modes and powerups that will keep you occupied for days. For all these reasons, you should: