Tron. That may be what you first think when you see Nitronic Rush in action. The tracks you’ll be racing on are all black with vividly glowing lines of blues, greens and reds, all lending credence to the Tron comparison, at least in terms of visuals.
As far as gameplay goes, however, there will be no Light Cycle line-drawing or throwing of disks here. Instead, you’ll be racing down tracks at break neck speed, dodging obstacles that burst through the floor a mere 20 foot ahead of you and jumping over vast gaps in the track in your bid for the end.[drop]Thankfully, your trusty cyber-car has some rather spiffy features that will help you through the relentless difficulty you’ll encounter. Chief amongst these, mostly due to it being integral to all the others, is the boost.
Press the left bumper on your wired 360 controller (the recommended way to play the game) and you’ll boost, enabling you to reach ridiculous speeds (roughly HOLYGOD mph) if you’re willing to risk obstacles coming towards you at an increased pace. It’ll also overheat if you use it too much, so you might want to watch the boost bar in the bottom left.
Pass through a checkpoint or pull off a stunt (essentially just rotating at speed in the air), however, and the bar will miraculously empty, letting you boost like it’s 1999. Or something.
The boost is important, there are a great many jumps that you simply won’t make if you weren’t boosting before hand, but it’s also important to remember boost control – you’ll clear the jump but, if there’s a corner just afterwards, you might clear the corner if you continue boosting in the air. I’ve done it many times. It’s embarrassing to panic as you’re approaching death only to realise you’re still boosting like an idiot.
Another useful feature your vehicle has is jumping – a push of the right bumper will have you hop up into the air, so you can jump over grooves in the road, boost the height from a jump or simply do a barrel roll. Combine boosting, jumping and rotating (which is done with the right analogue) and you can jump onto a wall or ceiling for further obstacle avoidance.
Lastly, your car can, with a simple press of the B button, fly. No, really; press B when you’re in the air and your car will sprout wings and begin flying around. This uses up the boost meter too, so you can’t just fly around indefinitely should the mood take you. Well, you can try but it will just end in you violently exploding.[drop2]Speaking of exploding, you’ll do it a lot. Whether you’re boosting for too long and overheat or you simply smash face-first into a wall. You’ll restart at the previous checkpoint, your only penalty being the time you wasted. The game revolves around your time, with online and offline scoreboards there to make you feel inferior.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get the online scoreboards to update with any actual times whilst I was playing, so I have no clue how terrible I am at the game in relation to everybody else.
If it’s tracks you’re worried about you can put your mind at ease; there are a great many tracks for you to explode all over, from the story tracks (which are relatively easy and start with a tutorial should you choose to play through it), through hardcore tracks, challenge tracks, stunt tracks and old tracks.
As you can see, there are a lot of tracks here for you to make your way through and, should you be the high score type (or, more appropriately, the lower track time type), you’ll have a blast trying to beat your own scores, never mind everyone elses. And that blast will be the one coming from your car as it explodes, over and over again.
The game is free, too, did I mention that? You can get it from here. There don’t seem to be any minimum specs on the game’s website that I can find other than ‘Windows only’, but given the lack of cost you may as well go try it out anyway.
Above you can see a video of me crashing and burning for 6 minutes and 28 seconds, partly (but not mostly) due to the low frame rate caused by my recording it. If that won’t convince you to play the game I don’t know what will.