Radial-G does what it takes to achieve a futuristic racer on a VR platform. It has multiple modes, vehicles, multiplayer support and most importantly, it works. But that’s about it. While the foundations for a futuristic racer are there, Radial-G does little to set itself apart and take its ideas to the next level. Virtual reality seems like the perfect fit for the genre, so it’s a shame that Radial-G serves as more of a proof of concept rather than a fully-fledged experience.
Radial-G is unashamedly inspired by titles like Wipeout and F-Zero. Players race on a number of insanely designed race tracks in super rocket-powered vehicles and dabble in vehicular combat. It’s a formula we’ve experienced many times over, but if course there’s the VR slant to be considered here. While the game is available to play on regular PlayStation 4 consoles, PlayStation VR always carries the benefit of immersion and Radial-G does a pretty good job in making you feel like you’re in a cockpit. The race information displayed on the dashboard is clear and helpful, and zooming down race tracks had me peeking around the glass windows to take in the world I was in.
Oh what a feeling
It should be noted that due to the fast nature and anti-gravitational race tracks, motion sickness is definitely a major concern. While I am personally accustomed to most VR games, there were moments where I could just tell someone else may not have the most pleasant experience. Simply shifting the vehicle to the left or right can move your stomach quite a bit. Moreover, having a first-person perspective inhibits your view in front of you. You must have quick reaction times to avoid obstacles and take advantage of boosts and jumps littered across each map, and it can almost be overwhelming at times. The developer has done a good job of making these buffs stand-out on the map though. Boosts are a bright green, jumps are blue and obstacles are red. Luckily this is the only point of reference you need in these hectic scenarios.
The immersion of being in the cockpit in VR mode is on a whole other level… for a brief moment
The career mode can be quite fulfilling if you want to beat all the difficulties and challenges, however if you just want to have one playthrough there are only eighteen events, which can be completed fairly quickly. The races range from crazy easy to slightly more challenging on higher difficulties, and this fairly mild challenge offered in the campaign had me keen to take my skills to the street with human opponents. Unfortunately, as of writing the servers are very empty that I could not get into a single match. It’s a pity, because I can definitely see the title having some legs with an online community and some post-support content.
There is a clear form over substance approach taken here; there are a number of modes and the general mechanics are good, but nothing is done to explore ideas further and there’s no real depth to any of it – certainly in comparison to most futuristic racers out there. Another issue I had contention with is overall presentation, which in general comes across as a little on the dull side. There are about half a dozen vehicles, but their textures and colours are muddy. There are nine tracks that, while offering some interesting design choices, are never really explored fully and don’t feel like they have a unique identity, and consequently it often feels like you’re racing on the same track. Moreover, the soundtrack does just enough to create that fast-paced atmosphere, but it isn’t anything special nor memorable. I feel the developer dropped the ball with almost every aspect regarding presentation, and better visual and audio design could have helped set this title apart from its brethren.
There are a number of tracks and vehicles, but it would be difficult to tell them apart
There are some caveats to be said regarding the above. For what is on offer, the price point is very reasonable. While it would be nice to have a couple more tracks and vehicles, there are sufficient number of modes and challenges to keep players busy. The other point I want to make is that this is the only futuristic racer available on PlayStation VR, so if you’re hungry to play one and see what it is like to be in a Tron-like racer, Radial-G does offer that. I am not sure if this is a good or bad thing, because as soon as something like Wipeout VR or Fast RMX VR makes the jump, Radial-G will be quickly forgotten.
Radial-G ticks every box for a futuristic anti-gravitational arcade racer. It also translates this genre that was crying out for VR treatment and fundamentally makes it work. However, while it’s ticking away at these boxes, it fails to think outside the box in creating something unique, deep and memorable, and may find itself superseded by inevitable future entries in the genre.
Reviewed on PlayStation VR