Antigraviator Review - A Fast Racing Game That Falls Short of Extraordinary
Antigraviator, simply put, is a racing game. More particularly, it's a racing game that's really really fast. You're going to be racing across an array of unique, futuristic tracks at near-supersonic levels of speed.
There's obviously a market that craves fast racing games -- just look at how much demand there is for a new F-Zero game. But just because a racing game is adequately fast doesn't automatically mean it's good.
Just how well does Antigraviator measure up as a fast racing game? Let's find out.
The Racing Mechanics of Antigraviator
An important part of a good racing game is having a foundation of solid mechanics that keep the race going and allow the player to improve with some time and skill. The mechanics found here are interesting and abnormal, but I'd dare say they're fun once you get a handle on them.
There's steering and acceleration, just like in any other racing game. Then you have an Air Brake that you can use to drift and turn corners a bit more easily. On top of that, you can perform Barrel Rolls that are good for dodging Traps or ramming opponents into the side of the track.
While racing across the track, you'll encounter Boostpads that dramatically increase your speed for a short time if you drive over them. You'll also come across glowing orange cells that you can pick up and use to give yourself an on-the-spot Boost or even activate Traps along the track.
The wonderful implementation of Boosting alone makes this a rather fun racing game. Since there's no speed limit, you eventually find yourself going mind-numbingly fast, which ends up being extremely satisfying if you manage to stay on the track.
But then there are Traps. The Trap mechanic is something that I'm still rather unsure about. On one hand, it's an interesting way to disrupt other players and give yourself the upper hand, much like items from Mario Kart. However, their use is somewhat limited.
There is no way to collect a Trap and hold onto it for later use. Instead, you can only use a very specific Trap when you pass a very specific waypoint on the track. That means that the Traps that are available to use at any given time depend entirely on the track you're racing on and your position in it.
On top of that, there can only be one instance of a Trap active on the track at any given time. This means that if any other racer decides to activate the trap before you, there's no possible way for you to activate it. Not activating the Trap yourself isn't the end of the world, but the Shield you get for triggering a Trap can be incredibly useful for navigating through the chaos.
All-in-all, the racing mechanics are pretty solid. This game knows how to handle it's speed, and it handles it well. The Traps are a bit of an odd mechanic, but they don't necessarily detract from my enjoyment of the game either.
Now that we know that the mechanics measure up, though, how do the tracks fare?
Are the Futuristic Tracks of Antigraviator Worth Racing On?
There are a total of five different worlds with three tracks each, complete with a reverse version of each track. Right out of the gate, this is a pretty decent number of tracks for a new racing game. However quantity does not always mean quality.
Each track is incredibly beautiful. It goes without saying that the visual design of this game is a blessing. The different worlds are all a spectacle to behold, even if they're based off of sort of generic video game locales.
The tracks are well designed, too. They're not too crazy or too bland, the Boost Pads and cell pickups are well spaced out, and it's not too difficult to figure out your upcoming turns.
If an important turn isn't specifically marked with arrows and road signs, then it's at least clearly visible for a stretch of the track. Sometimes it feels like you don't have a lot of time to react to turns, but that's just the risk you take racing at faster and faster speeds.
Overall, I think the tracks are relatively well designed. None of them really stood out to me as incredibly fun to play, though none really stood out as bad, either. It was simple pretty good all the way around.
So it's nice that the racing mechanics and the tracks are up to par, but what about the game modes and features?
Game Modes and Features in Antigraviator
To get on the race track, you can either take on the Campaign, set up a custom Quick Race to play splitscreen with your friends or practice courses, or go Online to play against your friends or face against the leaderboard in Ranked.
While the rest of the game modes are pretty self-explanatory, the Campaign begs to be expanded upon. After all, it is the bread and butter of your single-player experience with the game. And all-in-all, it's pretty standard fare.
You compete against CPUs across four tracks to see who comes out on top. If you get 1st place overall, you earn a bunch of credits and unlock the next Campaign League. If you get 2nd or 3rd place, you still earn a decent amount of credits, but you get nothing else. If you end up in any place lower than that, you earn nothing and essentially forfeit the credits you paid to enter the League in the first place.
Those credits are important as they're used to buy new parts for your vehicle in the Hangar. There aren't a lot of different kinds of parts to pick from, but the way they change your vehicle's stats is pretty deliberate. In this case, I'd say less is more because too many options would probably just bog down vehicle customization. You're only looking at three main stats anyway, those being Acceleration, Handling, and Storage for the cells you pick up on the track.
In the Hangar you can also customize your vehicle's decal and colors in order to make it truly your own. Locked decals can be unlocked simply by playing the game; there are no microtransactions in sight.
Once you actually find yourself on the race track, there are a few different racing modes you can be thrown into. The Single is the standard 3-lap race that we've all come to know and love. The Deathrace is a special mode where you have one life, and the goal is to survive as long as possible. The Countdown is a frantic mode where you race against the clock to reach the next checkpoint before the timer runs out.
All things considered, this game features a decent collection of content. But is it ultimately worth your money?
Verdict -- Good, but Not Great
Antigraviator succeeds at what it sets out to do, but it doesn't excel at it. For many people looking for a fast racing game, that's plenty good enough. While my time with the game wasn't particularly memorable, I still had fun playing it, and that's what counts in the end.
If a fast racing game is something you're in the market for, then this might just be what you're looking for. If you're looking to get into faster racing games, this one is even a pretty good place to start!
Antigraviator is available starting June 6 on Steam and will come to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at a later date.
Note: Review copy provided by the publisher.