Redout 2 Review - Total Wipe Out
Redout 2 has no time for the casual player and, sadly, that means it's often an infuriating and frustratingly un-fun experience.
Redout 2 may be a racing game, but after a long and frustrating limp to the finish line, I’m left wanting more from its universe than from its actual racing gameplay. Bear with me and I’ll tell you why.
On the surface, Redout 2 looks like any other anti-gravity racer. Super fast anti-gravity racing ships, twisting, turning, looping tracks, and an electronic soundtrack fit for the future. It’s managed to crib everything required, all except one key component: fun.
|Our Score: 4/10 – Below Average|
|The Good: Looks great and runs superbly (tested on PS5.) A challenge for hardcore players to master.|
|The Bad: Casual players are sure to be put off by the steep learning curve and fiddly controls|
|Release Date: June 16th, 2022|
|Developed by: 34BigThings|
|Available On: PlayStation 5/PlayStation 4, Xbox Series/One, Nintendo Switch, PC|
|Reviewed On: PlayStation 5|
My first few hours with Redout 2 were spread out over a few days. I’d pick up the controller with the best intentions of tackling the Career Mode, only to hit a brick wall on the third tutorial; the annoyingly difficult and annoying under-explained Boosting tutorial. If you’ve played the game, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s infamous at this point.
The Boosting tutorial tasks you with racking up 1000 points by going super fast and boosting for extra speed and points. Yet, no matter what I did, I couldn’t break the 1000-point mark to continue on with the Career Mode. I’d try a handful of times, get frustrated, and then give up, telling myself I’d try again later. This cycle continued for a few days until I was moaning about it to one of my friends who also has the game, and he explained that I needed to use the super boost and the regular boost together. Lo and behold, he was bloody right and I beat the level on my very next try. Why, then, wasn’t this explained as part of the tutorial?
This early doors kerfuffle set the tone and as a first impression, it didn’t do the game any favors. Bear in mind, Redout is already a sore topic for me anyway. I played and reviewed the arcade space shooter spin-off – Redout Space Assault – last year and it was a dud.
After finally getting through the tutorial and into some actual races, I didn’t find myself having a great time. Instead, I found myself smashing my ships against the walls of the narrow tracks, or flinging them off into the abyss. It doesn’t help that the controls are needlessly overcomplicated for a straightforward arcade racer. Instead of using the left stick to steer and giving the right stick a rest, Redout 2 requires input from both.
If you want to make a turn, you need to nudge both analog sticks in the direction you want to guide your ship, initiating a quasi-drift mechanic. Likewise, when you’re airborne – or going up/down steep track sections – you need to control the pitch of your ship to keep your momentum. Fail to do this and you’ll slow down, take damage, or as was the case for me more often than not, completely miss my landings and end up exploding into the admittedly impressive scenery.
After a few hours of play, I managed to get the controls somewhat down, but I can’t say that I was ever fully satisfied. I never truly felt like I was the one steering the ship, but that’s just one of Redout 2’s problems.
I’m no stranger to a challenge and often play the game of life on hard mode (I’m an asthmatic smoker who boxes competitively) but Redout 2 had me enraged. The difficulty curve is harsh as heck and I can see it being a massive barrier for the casual player who picks up the game based on the fact it looks a lot like the old familiars. It doesn’t help that the tracks require pod-racing reflexes where you need to be initiating the turn a good 1-2 seconds before it has even appeared. Or adjusting your speed and trajectory for a jump that a) you can’t see coming and b) you can’t see the landing. I’d blast full-throttle at a jump only to find myself massively overshooting the landing because I didn’t realize I needed to lower my speed and pitch down into the next section of the track. These moments felt super cheap and I felt like I was being punished for being a new player who didn’t have the tracks committed to memory.
I’m sure the hardcore sci-fi racing fans out there will find a lot to enjoy in Redout 2 with its Career Mode, Arcade Mode, and online multiplayer, though a note on the latter: I tried to test the online mode out, but couldn’t find anybody to play with. If you can take the time to master the controls and map the tracks to your brain, I can see it being a fun challenge, but it’s not for me. Less is sometimes more, and a little less complication in the game’s controls and mechanics could mean a hell of a lot more fun for a wider audience.
One curio of Redout 2 – and this brings us back to the beginning of this review – is the game’s universe. The Redout series has already expanded beyond racing with last year’s Redout Space Assault, and I think there’s the possibility for it to go further, maybe even leaving the racing behind altogether.
I say this because each exotic track is introduced with a bit of lore by way of the smooth voice-over. This is unusual for a racing game but I found it weirdly wonderful, and it had me wondering what else is going on beyond the colorful death-trap tracks I’m not really enjoying. Is there an RPG down in New Tokyo? A first-person shooter on Mars? A stealth-horror in the depths of the Mariana Trench? I don’t know, but I think it says enough that instead of enjoying the racing, I’m fantasizing about being just about anywhere but on the game’s tracks.