Redout 2 is a futuristic racer that shares much of its DNA with the F-Zero and Wipeout series. A tribute, if you will. It’s eye-wateringly fast, stylish, and very hard.
Redout 2 is set in the future, where planet earth is having a rough one due to an energy crisis. Fortunately, in this future, we’ve mastered space flight! That means we’ve successfully spread the blight of humanity outward to our neighbouring planets. But despite bleak times, racing as a sport still prevails! It might sound like I’ve made all that up to increase the word count for this review, but Redout 2 has lore, and it’s a great little touch. What’s not so great is that you read this lore during the games loading screens, of which there are quite a few, and some of them are pretty lengthy. Pre-SSD, these would be fine, but now that we’re in an age of near-instant loading, they stick out like a sore thumb.
But once you’ve sat through the load, you’ll drop onto the race track proper. These shiny neon-clad tracks snake through the futuristic landscapes with tight turns, big jumps, and many gravity-defining upside-downy bits. 36 tracks make up the collection of racing roadways, and while they offer up plenty of thrills and test your racing skill, none of them finds their place in the annals of great gaming circuits. They’re perfectly serviceable but pretty standard.
All the racing takes place across three main game modes; arcade, multiplayer and career. Arcade lets you choose your track and event type, multiplayer lets you race with friends and foes online, and career is your standard affair — complete a race to unlock another race. Rinse and repeat. The extra boon for playing career mode, however, is unlocking upgrades for your ship.
The hoverships in Redout 2 are fully customisable, including performance and cosmetic upgrades. You unlock these upgrades by earning stars in career events. You earn stars by placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, with an extra star attainable by carrying out an additional goal. These goals vary from race to race but include hitting a certain speed or completing a race without overheating. Performance upgrades, as you’d expect, increase your ship’s power which, in turn, lets you take part in higher-class races. The cosmetic upgrades are purely visual, and there’s an impressive amount of them. The ship design in Redout 2 is superb and while none of the ships quite have the character of say, Blue Falcon, you can customise them very much to your liking. You pick a chassis and the rest is up to you. You can chop and change almost every piece of the ship alongside applying paint jobs and custom liveries. There’s a bountiful supply of cosmetic upgrades available, but you’ve got to unlock them first.
But Redout 2 is at its most divisive on the track. As I said, it’s a hard game, and this is down to its complex controls. Vehicle handling is a mix of turning with the left stick and strafing with the right. The right stick also adjusts your pitch which you’ll need to position your ship mid-jump or angle it up or down when doing a loop-the-loop. The controls are also incredibly twitchy and paired with the blistering speeds which, credit where due, feel intense, it winds up being extremely frustrating to play without assists. There’s also a boost mechanic which, as you’d guess, has its little quirks. Two boost modes are available, a standard boost activated by squeezing the left bumper, and a hyper boost toggled on and off with the right bumper. Both boosts cause your ship to overheat and if you do that for too long, you’ll explode. On top of that, you’ve got to account for the track temperatures which may cause you to overheat more quickly. All this extra-level stuff makes Redout 2 feel a lot like a racing sim for a series of racing that doesn’t yet exist in the real world.
Once you complete the game’s tutorial, which is no mean feat, the game will suggest assists for you. If you’re a filthy casual like me, I’d ignore the recommendation and opt for the beginner preset. Honestly, playing without assists is as enjoyable as the time I caught my foreskin in my fly. I’m not one for kink-shaming, but my idea of enjoyment that ain’t. Good news then, that Redout 2 offers plenty of assists, all of which you can adjust on the go.
All in all, Redout 2 is a perfectly fine racing game. It retails at half the price of a standard game, and that feels very fitting — It’s essentially F-Zero on a budget. It looks nice, runs well, the sense of speed is great, and it has a lot of content. That all said, it falls short where it matters most — the gameplay. The assists make it more approachable for those who want a pick-up-and-play experience, but it errs on the side of being stale after only a few hours. The tracks are fairly nondescript and the soundtrack, whilst has occasional bangers, is hit and miss too. A large majority of the songs sound broken and I’m not sure if that’s because I’m a dad that isn’t down with the kids, or whether it’s a genuine bug.
You’re going to get the most enjoyment out of Redout 2 if you’re someone who has the time and patience to master the tricky ship controls. If you fall in that camp, you’ll likely love this game. If, however, you’re a more casual player, Redout 2 may not hold your attention for long. But, if you’re pining for a new F-Zero or Wipeout game then, well, Nintendo and Sony aren’t pulling their fingers out any time soon, so this will have to do.