12 Nov 2011

Ready, steady, glow: Nitronic Rush

As hangover cures go, having my senses battered by a symphony of light and a fair few pounding beats is the last thing I would expect to help. Problem is, once I saw Nitronic Rush this morning I couldn’t keep my clicking finger from that download link. And then it seemed unjust not to play it right away. Advertised as an ‘experimental, survival driving game’ by the game’s student devs, I’m certainly expanding on its experimental uses.

Nitronic Rush was created by a group of students at the DigiPen Institute of Technology. It’s Tron for the Trackmania generation. It also evokes some strong memories of 90s racers like WipeOut, Rollcage and Extreme-G. In fact, it’s only in playing this game that you realise how much we’ve lost that lust for blistering stunt racing that used to be such a strong part of the genre mix, even on the PC platform.

So it’s an arcade racer, which gives you the power to fly and flip for points around a number of absurd neon tracks. You also have a nitro button which affords you a limited amount of rechargable fuel before your car shakes itself to pieces.

You’ll be happy to hear that Nitronic Rush plays as good as it looks. And it really does look incredible. Your car, equipped for flying and teeth shattering speed boosts, is incredibly responsive when winding itself around these roads, flipping from wall to floor and generally driving like a total bad ass. That’s ignoring all the crashing you’ll definitely do, but that’s fine. Like Trackmania, you’ll have fun playing this game to perfection.

I’m not mentally equipped this morning to understand quite how the scoring is calculated from the various stunts, but points are tallied up alongside your finish time for the high score board. Personally, I just like the colours and the way this game makes me smile as I zoom across mind-melting landscapes. It’s relentlessly noisy, visually and aurally, and contains enough little features and set pieces to keep you wowed throughout.

There’s a short and knowingly daft story mode which sends you off to destroy a virus core in order to protect the cyber city. You drive into it or something. I don’t really know, but it was cool and that’s all you really need to know. If you’re after something to liven up a particularly dreary afternoon, this game will more than do the trick. There are several game modes and a multitude of pretty diverse tracks. Online access allows you to pit your skills against ghost racers across the globe and there’s always your previous best to have a go at if you’re happy endlessly bettering your past self.

Best of all, Nitronic Rush is completely free. So why are you still reading this?

Nitonic Rush can be downloaded right here.

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