Antigraviator first hit the PC market in 2018, but I’ve always been holding my breath for a console release that would soon be on its way. A little over year later PS4 owners got to have their chance at lightning speed racing, but Xbox One owner still had to be patient a little longer… Until now!
The title doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination and as you’d suspect, it’s an antigravity racer, much like WipEout or F-Zero. It promises to differentiate itself from similar racers by playing into two unique elements: the unlimited speed and the traps you activate much like the ones in Split/second. Let’s see if it delivers!
GOTTA GO FAST!
Antigraviator promises speed without limits and while it’s certainly one of the fastest games I’ve ever played (if not THE fastest) I’ve never actually been able to test the limits of the acceleration. There will always be a corner too sharp or a trap getting in your way.
It’s also not the regular racing speeds that make your eyes water, but the moments when you hit a boost pad or activate the boost yourself: The camera distances itself and everything gets visually warped for a while to really give that sense of breaking the sound barrier.
IT’S A TRAP!
So it delivers on the speed, but what about those Split/Second-like traps? Well, it never quite lives up to the epic track-changing events you can trigger there. At most you’ll be able to launch some missiles or drop a few boxes in the path of unsuspecting opponents. It’s rarely enough to actually wipe them out, but the reduction in speed you’re giving them combined with the shield it grants your own ship do make it a worthwhile tactic.
Boosting or using a trap: it’s up to you but take into account that you’ll have to gather pickups to spend on these and they can be easy to miss.
The issue with traps is that they can only be triggered at certain pre-defined locations and you need to have just the right amount of distance between yourself and the opponent to actually hit them. It’s really important to know the track layout so you can anticipate these moments. I also missed a bit of impact to them; would have been nice to see a short recap of the action from different camera angles right after it happens.
The same can actually be said about the entire game: knowing the tracks by heart is a necessity if you wish to stand a chance against the, quite frankly, overpowered AI opposition. They seem to hit all the boost pads without fail and lean into the corners just right, while we are prone to… human error. One tiny slip-up and two to three opponents will slingshot past you never to be seen again.
I also found it funny that it always seemed to be the same bot taking first place. I tried to find some humor in the situation by naming it “The Egg” or “The Chicken” so I’d see “The Chicken came first” whenever it inevitably crossed the finish line first.
The annoying part is that the tournaments require you to come in first before the next one unlocks and I had an extremely hard time beating the bots. I felt like a total noob and all hope of upgrading my ship soon went out the window when I saw what they’re charging for a new one or to buy new parts. The later tournaments have a bigger payout, but I couldn’t join them. (Ironically, that brings me back to the chicken or egg situation)
Luckily there is also a Quick Race option that lets you completely customise how you want to play: from the track, to the number of opponents, to the game mode. Speaking of which: there are a few modes available here: the regular racing one with traps, a “Pure” style race without them (I preferred this one) to elimination-style rounds where last one standing wins. The latter is my least favourite mode as it often resulted in me staying alive versus two bots and never encountering them long enough to actually try and hit them with a trap.
The biggest saving grace here is the split-screen multiplayer. Sadly, we’re all quarantined at home at the time of writing so I can’t exactly invite friends over, but I have a wife to face off against and playing versus a human opponent is just a lot more fun. I also tried to find some online opponents but seeing as this is being reviewed before it went live for everyone, I didn’t find a soul in the matchmaking lobby.
Antigraviator looks and sounds amazing. I recall being stunned back when I first saw the game in action in 2017 and discovering that it was made in Unity. At that time, the engine wasn’t exactly known for visual details but what Cybernetic Walrus managed to pull off with it felt magical (Unity probably agreed as the game earned a prominent spot in their showreel at events).
The levels all look absolutely stunning, with various biomes to zip through and even some tracks taking you into space. Luckily the flybys at the start offer a detailed glimpse as you’re blasting through them at breakneck speeds when actually racing.
The audio department is another positive note to end on. While the announcer’s voice is rather unpleasant and hard to understand, the sound effects and especially the soundtrack fair a lot better. The electronic beats that were blasting through my headphones really hit the mark and perfectly fit the fast nature of the game.
Antigraviator certainly delivers on its promise when it comes to the eyewatering speeds you’ll be racing at. It looks great, sounds great and controls great, but sadly the traps don’t have as much of an impact and I sometimes felt chanceless against the AI racers, which put a real dent in my overall enjoyment of the single player campaign. I’d still recommend a purchase, but mostly for some fun local couch multiplayer when you have friends over.
*Disclosure: An Xbox One Review copy was provided by the publisher.
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