When first playing Wipeout for the first time, all those years ago on the PlayStation One, I was blown away. It was so lightning quick that the race was often over before really getting into it. Despite my love of racing games and having relatively good reflexes, mastering the game has never been something I could do, which I soon found out from playing Antigraviator on the PS4.
Much like its predecessor, Antigraviator is a racing title set in the future with flying, upgradeable spaceships that don’t give you much chance to pull the ring on your can of coke, let alone take a sip: it’s quick. If a speed-based title is not for you, then you’re going to want to give this a miss as everything happens so fast that it feels like you’re a bowling ball thrown down the lane, only with those kid-type bumpers to bounce you off the walls as who uses the brakes in the game?
Before you begin, you have a good selection of modes and features to play around with, but of course, it improves as you progress through the game and unlock new stuff. The central part of the game is the Campaign, a Quick Race where you can play a variety of tracks from urban to island and set up a variety of parameters such as the race types, number of laps, the amount of players and whether you want to do a mirror track. For a racing game, there sure is a lot of gaming modes:
As you can imagine, they’re mostly quite self-explanatory (Countdown is a beat the clock challenge and Deathrace give you one chance at survival in a race), but with Pure, all the traps in the game are removed, and there are more frequent boosts. With Hybrid it’s a mash-up best suited for an unpredictable multiplayer race.
In the Hangar, you can view the craft you’ve collected and the various configurations that include new wings and plating. This is essentially the Need for Speed style of things to pimp your racer out with go-faster stripes and exhausts, and you can win new items through progression. There is also a wealth of skins and decals to customise your vehicles to stand out from the crowd – especially if playing online, which features ranked matches as well as casual for those of us without that competitive nature online and just want to take it easy. Bit of an understatement there, as there’s definitely a challenge.
When it comes to gameplay, the controls are straightforward enough, and the concept is simple: win. Throw in a few other hazards along the way through, and you have various traps to dodge, so with a flick of the right analogue stick, you can do a barrel roll on command that gets you out of most scrapes if you can ‘see the line’ of a trackway in advance. Most of the time it’s too late, and you crash. As if the game wasn’t already fast, there are speed boosts throughout as well as a dedicated nitro boost with the X button that ensures you never take your eyes off the screen. First-person views tend to be my go-to in racing games, as per real-life, but with this sort of game, it’s too erratic, so I would often switch between the two available third-person views to see the tracks ahead/other vehicles within range.
Antigraviator improves with play; that is when you become familiar with the tracks and know when each bend is coming, the experience is much better, and it feels a bit more on-rails and less out of control when ricocheting off of the sides. There’s such an abundance of tracks, however, that it will take some time to get familiar with the levels – some are longer than others, but it is the fluidity of the game that makes it more challenging to get accustomed to a layout. Add into the mix other players and weapons a.k.a. traps, and there’s a good deal to explore.
If you haven’t ever played Wipeout before, then Antigraviator is something else. Still, if you are familiar with the classic title, Antigraviator won’t replace it as your go-to futuristic racer. The biggest reason on my part is it’s simply too fast. Even when you familiarise yourself with one track at a time, there are bound to be other elements that are thrown into the mix, meaning that it is nigh on possible at times to be consistent. This doesn’t matter so much with the two-player split-screen mode as these are always unpredictable and dare I say, fun. When in the campaign mode where your ranking matters, earning credits for upgrades, it’s frustrating that one clip of a wall and you lose your position. Only, hitting the wall once isn’t exactly it – it’s almost all the time. Sure you could implement the barrel roll and air brake to provide a bit more control, but due to the fast-paced, sometimes anxiety-inducing environment of anti-gravity racing, hitting the brake seems a bit counter-intuitive.
Antigraviator is a good game. Though you can have a selection of favourite games in a genre, with the anti-gravity racer, arguably Wipeout is always on top, and there’s not much room for anything else, depending on how die-hard you are. The customisation options, single and multiplayer options are great (though I wasn’t able to commit to an online game) – plus the number of tracks and variance of scenery were pretty cool (if you get a chance to see them). Unfortunately, though, the controls are hard going for most, and you need to have super quick reaction times or the time to master the controls and tracks. That’s not something I’m likely to do as the pinball-like steering puts me off, and come on, who uses a brake!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 6/10
If you’re a collector of Wipeout-like games, or like fast-paced racers then Antigraviator could be for you. It has heaps of features, but the core gameplay may limit interest due to the challenging tempo of the game, and it doesn’t do that much which Wipeout hasn’t already done.
- Frantic pace ensures you’re completely engaged.
- Decent graphics.
- So many modes and features.
- Frantic pace also means lots of crashing and frustration.
- A bit more of a niche for those who want a challenge.
- Doesn’t really offer anything new.