Hands-onQuantum Redshift

We check out the Xbox's upcoming futuristic racer.

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Microsoft gave us an early look at its upcoming game Quantum Redshift, a futuristic racer in the vein of Wipeout and Extreme G3. Developed by Curly Monsters, the game will mix high-speed racing with a strong story element, which gives the game a different slant. We got some time with a roughly 30-percent-complete build of the game and got a feel for how it's shaping up.

The game will offer four modes to choose from: story, multiplayer, quick race, and time attack. We were able to try out an early version of the story mode that gave us a solid idea of what's coming. QR will feature 16 characters and 16 futuristic hovercraft vehicles along with 16 tracks spread out over eight environments across the globe. The game's story element comes into play in that each character has a rival in the game he or she must defeat, resulting in eight pairs of characters that will each reside in a specific region. If you're able to defeat your rival, you'll unlock that character and his or her craft in the roster of selectable characters, which allows you access to seven characters initially.

While playing the game, we were impressed by the size of the levels, which were massive, and the sense of speed. Another unlockable feature in the game is an option to increase the speed you race at. You'll eventually be able to select from five speed settings that offer marked differences in acceleration. Changing your speed will also allow your craft to access other areas, because of its increased momentum. Control was good, although we did keep expecting to accelerate with the R trigger instead of the A button, which is what's used in the game. Both triggers on the Xbox controller will serve as air brakes to assist in the tight turns that come up.

The tracks we tried featured a good amount of graphical variety and shortcuts and were strewn with power-ups that increased our craft's shield and turbo meters and granted us weapons to use against other racers. They included some insane loops and jumps that complemented the insane sense of speed quite well. A word of warning: If playing Bloodwake in first-person view got you sick, Quantum Redshift at the highest speed setting will drop you like a canary in a mine full of toxic gas.

The graphics in Quantum Redshift, while clearly early, were impressive nonetheless. The game already ran at a high frame rate and managed to convey an excellent sense of speed. The craft handling was still a bit twitchy but nothing that kept us from enjoying ourselves. The game certainly seems to have a lot to offer and left us wanting more. Quantum Redshift is set to ship during the holidays this year. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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