While I am not a fan of them personally, it seems that anti-gravity racers get a lot of niche love. Popularized by Wipeout and F-Zero, they seem to lurk in the shadows these days. Off the top of my head, I knew of Fast RMX due to someone on my Twitter feed having a particular love for the title (editor’s note: I’ve seen that feed, and the racer body pillow was too far). Besides that, well, that’s all. Then again, that may be reflective of just how out-of-touch with the genre I am.
So it was interesting to see Formula Fusion appear, a form that seeks to blend anti-gravity racer and simulation racer, with extra garnishes thrown in for good measure. So I was fortunate that I managed to nab an interview with Andrew Walker, creative director and founder of R8 Games. You can watch the interview below.
While I was at the booth, I managed to give Formula Fusion a fling and there was a lot of food for thought on the table.
I may as well start with the part that’ll either woo audiences or leave them shuffling off. As discussed in the video, despite the loss of gravity you’ll mostly be spending it grounded. While there are a few jumps about, you wouldn’t be track skipping like can be found in some pretty nutty F-Zero videos out there. Instead, the focus is on finding the quickest path of least resistance around the course. While not necessarily a bad or good thing of itself, it is something to consider.
“So is it tight?” is the burning question, and sadly I’m going to have to come up with the response “probably”. I did notice a little bit of frame-rate lag here and there, but things like responsiveness seemed good enough for a casual scrub me to notice. To help aid tightly darting around the course is the decision to allow you to brake while turning left or right as one button press. After all, there doesn’t seem much reason to slow down besides the possibility you may be about to slam into the wall.
That is unless you’re trying to reach for those power-ups for your craft abilities. Rather than yoinking whatever weapon/defence/boost/etc powers you can scavenge, you pick up energy for whatever you’ve equipped onto your craft. A craft you’ll be able to pick how it looks, what weapons it has, how the weapons will be modified, how your craft’s speed will be and a whole host of many many MANY other tweaks that likely include if you want the toilet roll over or under.
While it is rather heavy to behold (especially with the lack of a minus notification for stats currently), you could also just pick a profile and leap in. This could get even heavier if you decide to take on the single-player, as you unlock modification cards that give you more choice of you can play with. Fortunately if you’re just wanting to race friends/competitors/jerks who’ll likely cut you up to nab your weapon reward, all the modification cards are available day one.
Oddly, it is this progression system that has me the most curious. I’m the type of awkward fellow who likes something to work towards. Even if it is just modifications/cosmetics unlocks, just seeing more options open up brings a smile to my face.
As of right now, Formula Fusion seems to be doing a pretty good job of not only supplying an experience for anti-gravity racer fans, but also those who would likely throw their money at more simulation titles like Gran Turismo, Project CARS and Forza. It does pose the problem that Formula Fusion is a title that doesn’t feature real-world cars, but once they get used to it being an anti-gravity racer then they may be in for a treat.
There is also the problem that Formula Fusion feels like it side-steps the arcadey titles like Fast RMX, which could push off some fans of anti-gravity racers who dig something with a more pick-up-and-play angle. That said, I’m happy it does. Formula Fusion distinguishes itself via their own take on the genre, as a Formula 1 title in the distant future. The mechanics talked about in the interview and above reinforces the simulation angle claimed.
So “is it a good racer”? As someone peering into the genre, it seems to be. I probably personally wouldn’t get it, but I don’t feel the thrill of speed. In fact you’d probably find me cowering in the presence of it. However, I don’t see any details that raise warning bells, and there are some neat ideas (e.g. the craft customization). So we’ll have to see if it meshes with the anti-gravity racers and simulation racing fans. As someone who enjoys watching developers experiment with unique and refreshing formulas, I hope it does well for itself.
You can find Formula Fusion out now in Early Access here for £14.99, with a Q2 full release date on Steam. There is also a release date of 2017 for Xbox One and PS4.