NS Review – FAST Racing Neo (Wii U)


Fast Racing NEO is Shin’en’s second futuristic racing game, following on from their 2011 WiiWare game Fast Racing League. It’s almost impossible to discuss Fast Racing Neo without comparing it to the beloved F-Zero series, but Neo is a competent racer that covers F-Zero’s absence quite well. Made by a small development team, the game keeps its presentation straightforward with minimal extras. However, the action on the track is exhilarating, and it’s difficult to get bored even after dozens of races.

The game’s main single-player attraction is Championship Mode. There are four cups consisting of four races each, and three ‘leagues’ that represent the speed and difficulty level. To unlock the next available cup, you must finish in the top three after four races. A lot of work was put into Fast Racing Neo’s sixteen tracks, and the course designs are the high point of the game. They look stunning, and each one carries its own unique identity; none of the tracks feel like duplicates, and by the end of Championship Mode I was able to describe the majority of them by their name.

screenshot13

It’s a truly versatile course list that will test players on various aspects, some courses coming with their own hazards and dangers. Sunahara Desert does away with the barriers, so poor turning will mean helplessly drifting into the sand. Conversely, Kenshu Jungle contains fatally narrow roads. Kamagori City has gigantic mechs wondering the terrain, their legs nonchalantly landing on the road to create an extra obstacle. Daitoshi Station is the game’s space race, complete with lethal asteroids that not only obstruct long jumps, but also come crashing down on the track. Many of the tracks also come with weather effects including rain, snow, and glistening sunlight. It’s all handled technically well, with the frame rate keeping a constant 60fps.

Despite the amazing course visuals, you’ll likely only notice them on the pre-race intro, as the racing is so fast that you won’t be taking your eyes off the track. It’s a shame the vehicles themselves don’t have a little more variety. There are ten to choose from, each having different attributes that affect how they drive: top speed, acceleration and weight. The lighter vehicles have an easier time with turning but tend to have lower top speeds. They all have a futuristic manufacturer company complete with location and logo, which is a nice touch, but it’s the designs themselves that don’t have much individuality. In a way this is to be expected – all the vehicles are streamlined to suit the racing and there isn’t much that can be done to distinguish them besides colour scheme. The Fulcon Capital is the one noticeably unique design with its wider front.

Fast Racing Neo is one of the most intense racers out there, and it has a few mechanics that give it depth and focus. There are two ways to boost. The first is by collecting boost orbs that are scattered around each track and then utilising them when needed. The second is to hit the boost strips on the tracks, which are coloured either blue or orange. The player can switch their vehicle’s colour scheme between the two at will – matching the strip’s colour will give the racer a boost, while an opposite colour will grind them down to a slow stroll.

screenshot03

It keeps the player focussed at all times, and one mistake at the wrong time could throw away victory. This happens frequently too; Fast Racing Neo is brutally difficult particularly at the higher levels, which are noticeably faster too. It’s not uncommon that a slip-up near the beginning of a race will mean you never see the leader, even if you drive adequately from then on. This isn’t always the case, as the A.I – while extremely competent – can make mistakes. There isn’t a solitary A.I. driver that will win every race in a championship so it’s possible to earn the most points without even winning on a single course. It’s a light concession though, as you’ll still need to perform strongly and consistently to advance to the next cup. The small margin for error does make for an incredibly satisfying feeling when you win.

Hero Mode takes the difficulty even further. In this mode, the boost metre also becomes a shield metre, and depleting it means you’re highly likely to crash. Crashing means an instant game over, and the mode is played on the highest speed setting. To complete a track on Hero Mode, you also need to finish first on the mirrored version of the track. It’s a monstrous challenge that will be appealing to the most hardcore players. Time Attack takes away the opponents, leaving you to complete a course solo as fast as possible. There are developer times for you to beat on all sixteen courses – for all three speed levels too – and in fitting with the theme, they are also very tough to beat. Best of luck to anyone who does want to get 100% completion on this one.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to test the online multiplayer but I can say that the format is similar to Mario Kart; players vote between three randomly selected tracks. The game does have some nice extra online features though. For each single-player championship cup, your time is recorded and your worldwide rank is shown. It’s an extra incentive to replay the cup and achieve a faster time. Neo supports 4-player split-screen with little graphical loss. Your only option with split-screen is to play through one of the cups rather than individual races, but considering how quickly you can get through them it’s not much of an issue.

screenshot24

The soundtrack does its job, not being particularly memorable but suiting the action well. It’s a batch of standard techno tunes that are just as intense as the racing, and there is a leitmotif used in several tracks that give it a nice touch of consistency and identity.

With the F-Zero series missing in action indefinitely, Fast Racing Neo does a good job of filling the gap with its futuristic racing. Whether it’s a satisfactory replacement will be down to opinion, but based on its own merits it’s a wonderful game that’s well worth the price. Shin’en’s small development team deserves to be commended for its work, and anyone with an affinity for high-speed racing games – as well as anyone who wants a serious challenge – should definitely pick this up.

Advertisements

Give us your view on this article..

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Categories

  • Tags

%d bloggers like this: