Formula Fusion (Early Access Review 2)

Source: Early Access Backer
Price: £14.99
Where To Get It: Steam
Other Reviews: Early Access 1, Release

“It’s not like Wipeout!” appears to be quite a common cry for Formula Fusion, a game intended to be… Er… Not specifically like Wipeout, but using the Future Racing experience of a team mostly comprised of folks who did work on Wipeout.

So, naturally, I’m keeping the Wipeout references to a minimum, and judging the game on its own damn merits. And, surprising nobody, the game is by no means bad, even at this early stage of development. Let’s talk about what’s currently not so hot first, starting with the F2000 craft, and the upgrade system.

Much like racing nowadays, some teams just can't resist a really gaudy colour scheme... I LOVE IT.

Much like racing nowadays, some teams just can’t resist a really gaudy colour scheme… I LOVE IT.

Whenever people talk about an unresponsive craft, I’m pretty much assuming they mean the FF2000, which does indeed currently steer like gold plated neutronium bricks, while going at a fair clip providing you can actually steer the bloody thing. While I’m almost certain that upgrading its handling stat would allow it to at least steer like a particularly stubborn mule (Proven after writing this sentence), upgrading is currently on a system that’s either relying on multiplayer (I unfortunately wouldn’t know, as, much like many other Future Racing games, the servers are pretty much ghost towns), or on small money drops for each race (105 FusionBux per Gold medal, 55 for a silver, moving rapidly down to 5 for, er… Placing.), with increasing costs the more you wish to upgrade the craft. For example, to upgrade the F2000 to its full level of handling, I would need 6500 FusionBux. I had 35, increasing to 140 as I finished a race in Niagara Falls (Getting Gold, naturally.)

Which would get me 2 percent better handling. There are 6 upgrade bars per craft (Handling, Shield, Braking, Speed, Defensive, and Offensive.) Teams, by the way, appear to be for purely cosmetic and/or roleplay reasons at the present time (I’m Southern Star, the Australian/Oceania grouped team, mainly because I do love me dark craft with red piping. It’s the least ostentatious of the Team colours.) As such, upgrading the craft is a bit of a grind, and it’s uncertain how the planned research tree feature is going to help there.

Looks like a fish... Swims like a fish... Steers like a cow. (But upgradeable to the point where it steers alright, actually!)

Looks like a fish… Swims like a fish… Steers like a cow. (But upgradeable to the point where it steers alright, actually!)

Now, let’s move to a counterpoint: Yes, the FF2000 steers awfully. But the FF3000 is somewhat nippy, and I have a fully upgraded FF4000 (In handling, at least) that turns on a penny, so “unresponsive handling” is most definitely not an issue with Formula Fusion’s current build overall. It may not help that it’s very important to check controls, as the arrow keys control pitch and, more importantly, airbrakes for the left and right… Not steering. Steering is A and D, while accelerate is W, and… Well, we all know the S is meant to be for brakes, and I’m sure it works, but who the hell uses brakes, seriously?

Content wise, it’s true that there are only the craft classes (Customisation is mainly meant to be in upgrades and that research tree… Which isn’t implemented yet), and four tracks, out of what appears to be a planned eight (Manhattan, Niagara GP, Atlas Torres, and Trans Atol are all in, while Fiar Fury, Terminus, Sampa-V, and Midtown are not), but those tracks? Are well designed. Manhattan is a fairly good starter track; Niagara GP makes for a good speed track, with only one corner I can think of that requires airbrakes, and the skill being in keeping your boost going; Atlas Torres is the first track where you can, with a flick of your pitch controls, leave the track at least temporarily, and Trans Atol, formerly an explosive hell of airbrake chicanes and hard turns, is now a slightly more mellow, but still challenging industrial track. There are also weapons, of which you are allowed 2 at any one time (Changing them out between races via the Garage), one Offensive (missiles, plasma, the like), and Defensive (mines, EMP bursts, and the like.) As such, much like RedOut, the emphasis is very much on the racing over the combat, especially with the KERS Boost system, which rewards having full weapon energy with… A boost you can fire off around once every 30 seconds, by holding down both weapon keys.

Then again, anyone who thinks the weapons are thus less meaningful won’t have noticed that EMP bursts not only temporarily turn off your engines, they also drain your weapon energy. Good luck boosting now, bucko!

...Meanwhile, it is very important to note that yes, sick jumps are do-able in Formula Fusion.

…Meanwhile, it is very important to note that yes, sick jumps are do-able in Formula Fusion.

But, not counting the reverse versions, night versions, and the mysterious “Red Route” that can be glimpsed in Custom mode, the basic tracks are something like half done. The game is pretty, although it currently feels more sedate in terms of the impression of speed (The actual speed is okay), the music is fairly good, the controls are responsive… The only things currently letting it down are that upgrading the craft feels grindy at the present time, and the occasional crash (and I stress, this is occasional.) It has multiplayer (Although, as is often the case for future racing games and other niche-ish genres, finding a game without a bunch of friends who already have it is a matter of luck), it seems to be progressing nicely, and, from what I can gather, it’s been done in a sensible timeline for developing a game like this in the Unreal 4 engine.

Even though it’s not complete, what is there works, and, with the possible exception of the F2000 and Custom Race mode, works well. Props.

The Mad Welshman pondered. Wipeout 1 had… 3 craft, and eight tracks. Formula Fusion has proposed… 3 craft, and eight tracks. Naaaahhh, just a coincidence.

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