Despite its heritage, most players probably wonít recognize the name Curly Monsters, though it should help you to know that the development team has some of the same members behind the seminal Wipeout series back in the Psygnosis days. This is promising, and the fact that this is a similar game in the same genre should obviously lead to high expectations. These are met in some areas, and exceeded in others. Quantum Redshift offers a different flavor of the fast, heart-pumping battle racing that gamers have come to expect. There are a few minor faults, these are minor. QRís basic premise should sound familiar Ė you race a cool looking hovercraft through some amazing tracks, complete with huge drops, giant loops, multiple branching paths and other obstacles.
There are 16 different racing environments, though
different paths can be unlocked in each for added replay value and challenge.
Your objective is not only to win the race, but to earn money to upgrade your
ships weapons, shields and boost systems. During each race, you have a variety
of power-ups at your disposal including more than 100 different kinds of
weapons. There are two main types of weapons: homing and non-homing, and they
are separate. Each ship has itís own unique arsenal of attacks, and more
powerful weapons are unlocked as you progress through the game. During the
races, several different types of multi-colored power-up icons are scattered
around the tracks and running over them boosts the number of stock in your
inventory. Running over the Bonus Chip icons will give you bonus points while
hitting the Mega-Up will add a level to all your shields, and fully charge all
your weapons. Each course also has several different branches which adds much to
the challenge and replay value of the game.
While other racing titles have featured characters, none have brought the conflict to life with the elaborate cinemas used in QR. The way these rivalries are integrated into the gameplay itself, with the end-of-tournament confrontations is really cool and sets the game apart. Aside from this, itís a very straightforward game, with little learning curve and most players should be up and running in. Visually, the game looks amazing, especially the rain and water effects which are stunningly realistic. Other weather effects such as snow and wind are used to dramatic effect, making each course feel alive and natural. As stated earlier, Curly Monsters cut their teeth on the Wipeout series, and this influence is quite noticeable in the overall design and sensibility of the title. However, futuristic racing has never looked as good as it does here, with brilliant light sourcing, environmental effects and trackside objects. The engine seems to fully exploit the Xbox architecture to make QR easily one of the best looking future racers to date. An above average and definitely cutting-edge electronic music soundtrack punctuates the action and fits the style and pace of the action perfectly. Composed by underground electronic music icon Junkie XL, the tracks mix standard techno with more aggressive trance and breaks to make the soundtrack match the futuristic science fiction feel.
Unfortunately, there are a few minor problems that undermine the experience. While there are loads of weapons, each ship only offers a limited number of them, which is annoying, since you have to play through all the different characters to see all of them. Itís extremely challenging and the difficulty curve is quite steep, which makes the no-win/no-advance system a bit more frustrating than it has to be. Coming in second in a single race means having to play the race again which can get tedious after awhile. Another problem is that while the controls are excellent, some of the track designs make it extremely difficult to avoid crashing. Finally, the look and feel of the game is great, but it lacks the creative spark that permeated the early Wipeout games and feels a bit watered down. However, some elements, such as racing over water do add some freshness to the experience, so itís not completely derivative. Even though Quantum Redshift may not be the most original title on the market, itís tight controls, challenging AI and solid gameplay make it a definite winner. It doesnít hurt that the environments are spectacular, with outstanding visuals making this one of the best-looking Xbox titles to date. Be warned, however that Its an extremely tough game to beat, but most veteran players should enjoy the challenge, especially fans of the future racing genre. While other consoles have been saturated with the genre, Quantum Redshift effectively fills a void in the Xbox library and comes highly recommended for itís entertaining gameplay.
> Related Reviews
Crazy Taxi 3 (Xbox)