I don’t think I’ve played a game that ever gave me a similar thrill from speed as I got from WipeOut. It was masterful at throwing you round tracks, always very edge of control.
Red:Out is that game, but for PC.
Red:Out began life as something a little less interesting. It’s the first game from an indie studio named 34BigThings, a trio of Italian developers that just wanted to make something cool. Red:Out was a “warm-up exercise”, explains game designer Guiseppe Franchi, something to do to gain experience in working on Unreal 4 games. The plan was to get something up, running and ready to ship by November.
But it was good. Really good. A change of course was needed: 34BigThings hired in three experienced racing developers from Milanese racing studio Milestone (responsible for the MotoGP games). A new handling model, and a longer development time was the result: the game’s now planned to be released in 2015.
Originally the team had “looked at acceleration curves and a formula for steering grip” based on cars using tires. Now, their vehicles float. “It just feels so much better to let forces do their work,” Franchi says.
Think of Red:Out’s mad flying things as jets without wings rather than cars without wheels. An they’re about as easy to handle as that sounds. I played the single player version, without even any AI on the tracks, but even then it was a ferocious struggle to keep my car-jet-thinger on the track. And this, even with a slowed down version of the game to help newbies cope with the speed. 34 want their game to be remembered for the stress of speed.
The track design recalls Wipeout, filled with corkscrews, loop the loops, and shortcuts. They’re beautiful: you skim the surfaces of deserts, fly through ice floes and bounce through the streets of neon-metropoli. There’s a liveliness to their architecture that you just don’t see on PC racing games outside of Trackmania, taking full advantage of Unreal 4’s lighting tech.
The tracks, too, have been redesigned to better account for the speed and physics of the new handling model. Those loops and sharp turns demand players can see what’s coming up.
Their efforts show. One track I played had the circuit plunging in and out of an ice cavern, winding between pillars of ice before shooting upwards into the sunlight. The turns were sharp and unforgiving, but it always felt fair. I could see every approaching corner, and had just enough time to adjust my racing line.
Red:Out will cross the finishing line in March. It’ll be worth the wait.