After a successful Kickstarter campaign, R8 Games brings us the spiritual successor to Wipeout, Formula Fusion. Does it improve on what’s come before? Or does it simply hide in WipEout’s shadow?
Nostalgia is this game’s biggest draw, those of us that were addicted to the original WipEout games will find it hard not to venture into the world of Formula Fusion. But that nostalgic carapace will soon crack and break away. It isn’t WipEout, and it’s in the finer details that this is most clear.
The UI is something to be desired, buttons are strangely placed, and there are no briefings before race events, leaving you with just a boring list of numbers to pick from before starting. It feels stripped, features are missing when they are sorely needed. For example, there is no tutorial, no way to learn the intricacies of the racing mechanics and I think I know why this is, although I’ll touch on that a bit later.
Watch the Formula Fusion Steam trailer below:
Button configuration doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, since when is A accelerate and not the triggers? You can’t adjust your speed to take corners, instead, having to use the airbrakes, which I found were borderline useless. As soon as you used them, you come to a near stop, and your opponents zoom past you with no trouble. What’s the point? It’s frustrating because when you’re hitting the straights and the soft turns, you pick up some real speed, added together with the boost power-ups you start feeling like you’re in F-Zero. But nope, a slightly sharp corner, come to a full stop. It’s rubbish. It’s poor design. Especially when there isn’t a way to make the corners while going at full speed, some roll mechanic or dash or anything like that would have added some skill and style to the races without having to sacrifice on speed. This is what I meant above, about the lack of a tutorial to show the intricacies, it’s because there aren’t any. The game is simple and therefore there is no need to explain anything. Hold A. Don’t hit the edges. Good luck.
You are able to pick up offensive and defensive power-ups, but these aren’t random as you pick your loadout before racing. This is a cool feature, you can design your ship based on how you play. You could decide on a light frame for better handling and the stealth or shield power-up to protect you from enemy fire. But it doesn’t live up to its potential. I ignored the defensive power-ups for the most part and the offensive ones; machine gun, rockets, were uninspired. There are no stand out weapons, it’s all a little boring. I’m not asking for a blue shell or a gold star, but something innovative would have separated this from its predecessor.
View some Formula Fusion screenshots in our gallery:
The graphics impress, they’ve utilised Unreal Engine 4 very well, and everything looks next gen. You will need a heavy rig to run it smoothly though, I had a few minor frame rate drops, but for the most part, it ran clean. The tracks, although they look great, don’t have anything to brag about. This is a future racer, I don’t understand why there can’t be crazy levels, with loop-the-loops and jumps and interesting stuff like that. It would have improved the entire experience, because, like most racers, when you get into first place and are well ahead it gets super boring if there isn’t anything fun or challenging to do. Weapons are useless at this point unless you count mines, and the tracks aren’t exciting enough to hold your attention. You’ll look up at the lap and realise you have three more and instead of knuckling down and improving your cornering, you’ll sigh.
Formula Fusion needs to offer more than the basics. More modes, more ship designs, more weapons, more interesting tracks. Anything to separate it from the mundanity of every other game like this. An elimination game mode, zanier track designs, recognisably different ships, explosively glorious weapons. It has utilised the engine well, and the graphics will make you wonder whether it was a Kickstarter project in the beginning. Die hard “WipEouter’s” will find some joy, and when it’s at its best, the racing is fast, fluid and exciting. Sadly the developers seem to have concentrated so hard on making it like WipEout that it only serves to remind you that it’s not. It’s just not nearly as good.
Formula Fusion was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: R8 Games Developer: R8 Games Release Date: June 1, 2017 Reviewed On: PC/Steam