During the PlayStation 1-3 era’s, Sony had access to two distinctly different yet radical racing games; Ridge Racer and Wipeout. Both were fantastic racing games in their own right, yet over the course, the time both series had fallen out of the once bountiful grace of Sony and had eventually been disregarded. For the Ridge Racer series, it had met its fate after several disastrous failures which had forced Bandai Namco to pull the plug on the once great series. However, for Wipeout and its fans, its fate was far worse.
As many fans of Wipeout can attest, it was a slick yet punishing futuristic racer. It never pulled any punches as you raced throughout its stages, trying to come in at first or for many, just trying to survive the race. The games were fast, brutal and had some of the best tunes you could ask for. Sadly, that didn’t last and Sony had shut down the studio responsible for the Wipeout series, former known as Psygnosis during 1984-1993, up until Sony acquired the studio and renamed it Studio Liverpool during 2001-2010. During that course, however, Sony had announced on August 22, 2012, that the studio would be closing. It was also rumored that prior to the closing, Studio Liverpool had been working on a next-generation Wipeout title for the PlayStation 4. Though no official confirmation or proof was ever released to state otherwise.
Of course, even after the closure of the studio, fans of the series kept petitioning Sony to bring back the franchise, to no avail. To which Sony has never gotten back to anyone as far as I am aware. It definitely wasn’t the way for a once great racing series to go out. It still hurts thinking about it, to be honest. However, that wasn’t the end of the story it seems, as a new company called R8 Games, had started pitching around the idea of a racing game in the vein of Wipeout. Fans got wind of this and there was an excitement in the air. It got my attention and I had started following the game ever since. That game is called Formula Fusion and it looked and sounded like a vision, no, a revisioning of the Wipeout series. It wasn’t until after I drew my conclusions that I found out that the team that made of R8 Games, was actually made up of former Psygnosis / Studio Liverpool members. When I first had a chance to see Formula Fusion in action, it definitely seemed like it had the Wipeout spirit, albeit it being a bit rough. R8 Games, at
However, that wasn’t the end of the story it seems, as a new company called R8 Games, had started pitching around the idea of a racing game in the vein of Wipeout. Fans got wind of this and there was an excitement in the air. It got my attention and I had started following the game ever since. That game is called Formula Fusion and it looked and sounded like a vision, no, a revisioning of the Wipeout series. It wasn’t until after I drew my conclusions that I found out that the team that made of R8 Games, was actually made up of former Psygnosis / Studio Liverpool members. When I first had a chance to see Formula Fusion in action, it definitely seemed like it had the Wipeout spirit, albeit it being a bit rough. R8 Games, at the time, had stated that they were very much behind the development of the title and wanted to make this just as every bit as good as Wipeout was.
No small feat for sure,yet with the team behind the series at the helm, I had no doubt they could do it.
Formula Fusion is a near-future anti-gravity racing game that brings fast, frantic, adrenaline-fuelled racing together with the raw sound of a thumping dance soundtrack and psychedelic visual effects. Set in the dystopian year of 2075 in the redeveloped ruins of New York State, Formula Fusion’s stunning atmospheric environments complement the dirty-urban visual design of The Designers Republic that truly set the stage for the Formula Fusion W.A.R Leagues – a dog-eat-dog racing competition born on the back of F1 racing.
Fast forward to this past weekend, where I saw that Formula Fusion was being featured at Gamescom 2016 and they had a sale of the title on Steam Early Access. Seeing how I missed my chance at the Kickstarter, I picked a copy and had been smitten with the game ever since. While the game is still ways from being done, from what I did play was definitely a sign that the game is heading in the right direction.
Included in the Steam Early Access was access to four different tracks, that seem to make up several different difficulties; Niagara, Mannahatta, Trans Atol and Altas Torres. All of the tracks had their own distinct vibe, yet for some reason, I was drawn to the Atlas Torres track. Maybe because the color track design reminded me the most of Wipeout, yet it also seemed to feature a subtle throwback to another futuristic racer from my younger gaming years. Whatever the reason, I must have raced that track multiple times and during each session, I felt myself being drawn more and more into the game. There were also several other tracks – Fiar Fury, Terminus, Sampa-V and Midtown, though those tracks were locked off and were not available to be raced on. Sadly I did not see any sections on any of the tracks that allowed me to take a different route. That’s not to say that Formula Fusion won’t have any sort of those tracks in the game, I just didn’t experience any as of yet.
Other than the tracks, the early access look showed off several features that weren’t accessible yet, such as an online racing mode, an upgrade system that lets you upgrade your vehicles’ attributes. This was something that wasn’t present in Wipeout, so it’s nice to see some added functionally being added. Being able to boost your shields or your firepower will help your attempts to stay alive, especially since I experienced first hand what happens to you during a race. Between smacking into the sides of the tracks, your rivals don’t have any issues lighting you up with all sorts of offensive items.
While this is an early access title, after looking at it and playing it, you’d think otherwise. Graphically the game is impressive, especially the tracks. While some do seem to have bland textures, are well detailed. Several of which have something moving in the background. The sense of speed is just about on par with what I remember from Wipeout as well. The controls are a bit twitchy, though that could be due to me not having played a game that requires a steady hand and cat-like reflections in quite some time. The design aspect is also very familiar artistic flair that one could confuse with Wipeout’s design. The only thing that seems rough so far and one that stands out is the UI.
The only thing that seems rough so far and one that stands out is the UI. Currently at the both of the screen are three bars that represent your damage threshold, speed and another blue bar that I’m not 100% sure is for yet. I’d imagine that this will be given a modern / updated look, since as it stands right now it’s hard to understand what they mean, especially since the game doesn’t tell you what they are. To the right is a lap counter, which times low long it takes for you to complete a lap. This is also pretty rough and hard to see at times as it’s off in the corner and can blend into the foreground while you’re racing. Those are my only issues so far, though again this is only a preview of the full game and I’m sure there’s tons of work to be done before the R8 Games team gets Formula Fusion out the door.
If you want to check out Formula Fusion or follow its updates, point your browser to https://www.facebook.com/R8Games. There is also an official website, but at the moment it is under redesign so there’s not much of anything to be seen.
Formula Fusion is currently available via Steam Early Access for $14.99 until August 26, 2016, then it goes back up to $19.99. No word on when the title will leave Steam Early Access and that’s just fine. I’d rather R8 Games have all the in the world to make that Formula Fusion can be the best that it can possibly be.
And if you’re curious on how the game looks in motion, take a look at some of the footage I recorded over the weekend. And yes, I did get my ass handed to me on a few of the tracks.
*Preview was conducted on the Formula Fusion build version 180716.