The Xbox software library is getting a stylish new addition with Quantum Redshift, the futuristic racer being developed by UK-based Curly Monsters. We've been keeping tabs on the game since we first saw it
The game's basic storyline is about what you'd expect. The action in the game is set in the far future and revolves around a global competition. The participants are a multicultural bunch motivated by their own personal demons and desires. In a change of pace from typical racing games, Quantum Redshift will fill you in on everyone's dramas as you begin each race with cutscenes. There's a bit of intrigue on hand, as well as SSX Tricky-style rivalries that come into play between the various competitors.
You'll find four main modes of play to choose from in Quantum Redshift: tournament, time attack, quick race, and multiplayer. Tournament is a traditional career-style mode of play. You'll choose a character to play as and then enter one of the available competitions. Your player and tournament choices will initially be limited to seven selectable characters and two levels of competition: novice and amateur. As you complete each race, you'll eventually get access to another nine characters and three other competitions: expert, master, and redshift. Unlocking the extra characters and competitions will require you to play through the game with each of the available characters. Time attack is a standard race on any of the open courses in the game with any available character, and your goal is to get the best time. Quick race is a no-frills mode that throws you into a single race with any open character on any open track. Multiplayer sets up split-screen competitions for up to four players.
When an actual race starts, the game should seem more familiar to fans of futuristic racing games. You'll tear through each of the tracks, collecting weapon power-ups and point bonuses for cash. Weapons are split into three basic categories: homing weapons, overshields, and nonhoming weapons. Each character's vehicle will feature a unique variation on one of the three, which will require you to adapt to each vehicle's armaments. The same principle applies to each vehicle's handling, which varies according to each character. The one constant among all the vehicles is a turbo boost that recharges after every lap. You'll be able to improve your vehicle's weapons, shields, and turbo gauge in between races by cashing in your earnings for upgrades.
Controlling the various selectable vehicles is a breeze. The left and right triggers will control the brake and accelerator respectively, and you'll steer with the left analog stick. B will fire homing weapons, X will fire nonhoming weapons, A will serve as turbo, and Y will trigger the overshield, which protects your vehicle from attack and also recharges its shields. The setup works well and felt right when we were speeding along and taking out the opposition.
Graphically, Quantum Redshift offers a slick bundle of eye candy. The track environments are huge and offer a good amount of visual variety. The water and ice effects are especially nice touches. You'd do well to take it all in at the lower-level competitions, whose top speeds are on the low end of the nausea spectrum. When playing at the redshift level, the nice scenery from the amateur setting will be a neon blur. The environments are complemented by lighting and weather effects such as falling snow and rain. The vehicles themselves offer a good level of detail. You'll be able to see the individual pilots in the cockpits, and they animate well. You'll see trails of exhaust from the ships and the various weapons. When you trigger your vehicle's turbo, you'll be treated to a motion-blur effect that does a nice job of conveying the insane speeds. The sense of speed is also greatly enhanced by the game's high frame rate, which stays strong even during split-screen play with four players.
Sound in the game seems well done. You may even find Quantum Redshift's voice acting to be a pleasant surprise, because you'll hear a variety of spoken languages to go with the game's multicultural cast of characters. You'll also notice that the voice that counts down at the start of each race does so in the language of the track's location. The voice acting for all the characters is decent, which is a trend we'd like to see continue in games. The music during the races is a good selection of speedy tunes from Junkie XL. However, if you'd prefer a change of pace, Quantum Redshift will let you use whatever music you've burned on the Xbox hard drive in the game as well. So if racing at high speeds to the tune of the latest Enya album is your thing, this game won't disappoint you.
From what we've seen so far, Quantum Redshift is shaping up quite nicely. The game offers slick visuals, an excellent sense of speed, a substantial challenge in its various modes, and solid gameplay to keep things fun. At this point our only complaint lies in our preview build's lengthy load times, which hearkens back to old-school PlayStation games. With the game's release still a way off, hopefully Curly Monsters will be able to cut the load times down a bit. Other than that slight bump, Quantum Redshift looks to be a game racing fans will want to keep an eye out for when it ships this fall.