Developer: Cybernetic Walrus
Release Date: June 6, 2018
Platform: PC via Steam [Reviewed], PS4, Xbox One
Disclaimer: A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Futuristic racing games are nothing new, but the modern offerings aren’t nearly as plentiful as what was available in the 90s and early 2000s. But, there seems to be a resurgence in recent times and the team over at indie studio Cybernetic Walrus has further emphasized that with their new title, Antigraviator. As you would expect, it’s fast and it’s futuristic. But, of course, the real concern is—is this any fun?
I haven’t played a huge number of futuristic racers, but the one I do have the most experience is the Switch-exclusive FAST RMX from Shin’en Multimedia. Thus, I decided to stack Antigraviator up against that to determine its worth. I must say, while I found both games to be enjoyable, it’s FAST RMX that woos me a little more. That isn’t to say that Antigraviator is a bad game, though. It isn’t by any means. But, the main reason why I prefer FAST RMX is that it feels like a more refined experience.
Antigraviator is a pretty run-of-the-mill futuristic racer. The tracks and vehicles aren’t anything that you haven’t seen before. Admittedly, there’s only so much one can do with a theme like this considering that “futuristic” is such an abstract concept. Still, the most important thing is that the sense of speed and Antigraviator certainly has it.
Laps tend to only last only over a minute due to the sheer absurd amount of speed that players move at. The tracks designs are pretty nice, almost like a rollercoaster (which is another common feature of most futuristic racers). The locales that you’ll be zooming through are also what you’d expect: futuristic cities, harsh landscapes like the Arctic and lava caverns, and of course, outer space. There’s a lot of jumps and sharp turns, all of which require split-second reaction times in order to successfully maneuver through. Antigraviator does a decent job at giving players a better feeling of control over their high-speed crafts by implementing a pseudo-drift mechanic for sharp corners. There’s also a barrel roll feature that is reminiscent of the side-step move in modern Sonic the Hedgehog titles that allows the craft to quickly move out of the way of incoming hazards and it can also bump opponents. The overall driving (flying?) experience feels pretty decent once you get adjusted to the high-speed. But, the thing about it is that the overall gameplay just feels rather “samey” when compared with other futuristic racers out there.
It’s fast and sleek, but Antigraviator doesn’t really stand out.
I’ve brought up this point several times now: if you’ve played any other futuristic racer, you’ve pretty much played Antigraviator already. There isn’t really anything it has that makes it truly stand out from the rest of the pack. Standing on its own, this is a competent racer. But, when compared to the other offerings out there like FAST RMX, it just sort of loses its identity and blends in. Interestingly enough, this can be compared to the intense motion blur effect that’s applied to the track surroundings that’s generated from the high-speed of the craft. Like that, Antigraviator is just sort of lost in the blur.
The game does try and spice things up with the ‘Trap’ system during races. These are hazards that can be remotely activated at specific points of each track. While they can make things a little harder, I never found them truly useful and usually ended up ignoring them altogether and just focused on overtaking my opponents by outmaneuvering them and making use of the boost pads. One truly decent feature that does make a difference is the ability to unlock new parts for your ship. These parts not only change the appearance but also affect the ship’s capabilities. Purely cosmetic customization is also possible by means of being able to paint specific areas of the ship and applying different skins. Customization is something that FAST RMX doesn’t have at all, so I can cut Antigraviator some slack in this area, at least. On that note, let me move on to another area where I think it deserves praise: the presentation.
Antigraviator is, by all means, a beautiful game. Despite not being able to play at max settings, I was still blown away by the graphics. The game is powered by the Unity engine, which doesn’t have a spotless reputation due to so many amateur developers using it to produce shoddy projects. But, Cybernetic Walrus put some real elbow grease into the visual design of this game. The crafts all look pretty cool, and the environments are absolutely gorgeous to look at. Sure, you’re zooming through them at nearly the speed of sound, but there are moments where you are able to just glance at the surroundings, and when you do, it’ll probably make you go “Whoa!” The lighting and particle effects also help bring out the beauty of the presentation and make the game look slick, especially considering that the metallic material of the tracks allow for constant reflections, shines and glows. As for the audio, I didn’t find it as amazing. The soundtrack isn’t bad, but like the gameplay, it just doesn’t stand out and sort of blends together. Even so, the songs are upbeat enough to get into the high-speed zone and definitely fit the whole “futuristic” theme.
— THE BOTTOM LINE —
Despite blending in with the rest of the crowd, Antigraviator is still a decent racer.
I know it may seem like I’ve been railing on Antigraviator for the majority of this review, but as I’ve said before, I don’t consider it to be a bad game by any means. Looking at it purely as a racing game, it’s fast and the track design is nice. Also, the controls are decent enough Those are the most important aspects of any racer, so all should be good, right? Well, again, the game just doesn’t’ stand out. I played it literally side-by-side with FAST RMX and it just felt like more of the same. I arguably even enjoyed the controls of FAST RMX just a little more. Thus, I think my one true gripe about Antigraviator is that it just didn’t blow me away enough to pick it over another title.
Nevertheless, Antigraviator is still a fast and beautiful game. While I can’t say it has its own true identity, it does at least do a decent job at getting the most important mechanics right. So, if you’ve never played another futuristic racer before, then there’s a chance you’ll probably find this to be enjoyable.