STAFF REVIEW of Redout 2 (Xbox One)

Tuesday, July 5, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Redout 2 Box art Do you miss the days of fast paced antigravity racers like F-Zero, Wipeout and Jet Moto? It seems back in the 90’s and 2000’s was when this sub-genre of racers peaked with only the odd title releasing lately that aims to put you behind the wheel (or is it cockpit?) of a vehicle that goes way faster than you’d probably be able to actually control. These racers usually also have insane tracks that could never really exist in real life due to the length, size, loops, massive jumps and more.

Self-marketed as “The fastest racing game in the universe”, it may not be too far off given the sheer speeds you can reach once you gain the skills to stop hitting and grinding against the wall at every corner, something that will take a good while to learn. Sequel to the original Redout, this sequel amps up nearly everything, from the graphics, audio, level design and of course, speed.

While most racers have a Career Mode of some sort, Redout 2 is no different, but I wasn’t prepared for just how lengthy and robust its Career Mode was. You can expect well over a hundred or two events, I actually lost track trying to count them all across 36 unique tracks, double that when you factor in that they can be played in reverse as well. More than just simple races, there’s also different types of events as well, from Boss Races, Time Attacks, Last Man Standing and more. Of course your main goal is to cross the finish line first and the fastest but doing so won’t be very easy in the beginning.

Advancing through a series of leagues, starting at ‘B’ League, ascending to ‘A’, ‘S’ and then finally the SRRL Invitational. But before you can even think about making progress in the campaign you’re going to need to go through the tutorials first. Why am I mentioning tutorials when talking about the campaign? Well, you’re most likely going to fail and have a hard time with them. Yes you read that right, the tutorials are so over tuned that you’re going to most likely struggle in the first race or two you partake in.

Tutorials are meant as a way to ease you into the gameplay, teaching you all of the mechanics and allowing you to move on once you’ve proven you’ve understood and can replicate the teachable moments. Great tutorials do this in a natural way, whereas others like in Redout 2 basically tell you how to turn left or right with the stick then completely forget to show you any of the other mechanics or set you up for success. I thought I was doing something wrong, as I was constantly crashing and couldn’t even make the par times for these opening races.

Eventually you’ll fuddle and make your way through these opening sections and then start the long hard road of the B League. You start with a default chassis yet can see the handful of others you don’t yet have access to, each of which have different starting specs, stats and appearance. Prepare to lose every race in the beginning though, as not only are the tutorials quite difficult, but it’s going to take a handful of hours before you start to get a feel for the racing and unique steering.

There are a handful of events, and while I enjoyed the standard races types the most, the Time Attack races are absolutely brutal to try and place third or higher in. These events having you racing to aim for a Gold, Silver or Bronze time, but I swear these are developer times, so good luck actually placing on the podium in the first handful. Even once I was in the A League, trying to get a Bronze placing was near impossible, so I tended to try and skip these events if I could. The Career Mode is going to take quite a while to finish and complete, so there’s plenty to enjoy if you end up figuring out Redout 2’s racing intricacies.

While there’s an Arcade Mode if you want to simply jump in and have a quick race, and a Multiplayer option to play and race alongside friends and strangers, the bulk of your playing is going to be tied into the Career Mode, not because the other modes aren’t as good, but every unlock and upgrade is tied to Career progression, which has issues of its own I’ll delve into shortly.

Like F-Zero and Wipeout before it, Redout 2 is all about its breakneck speeds while racing your antigravity vehicle across some crazy tracks. I’ll admit, I was extremely frustrated with my first two or three hours in Redout 2 due to barely winning any races and constantly grinding against the walls at almost every corner. There’s some difficulty options and settings toggles you can play with, and while I initially left the default settings on, I eventually turned it down and only then I was starting to find some mild success. Even on its easiest settings and assists on, a first place or even podium finish wasn’t always guaranteed.

There’s a super difficult learning curve when it comes to Redout 2’s controls, but once you understand it and get the hang of it, things change almost instantly. You see, instead of simply steering by moving your Left Stick to the sides for the direction you want, you’ll also need to use the Right Stick for strafing. That’s right, Redout 2 is a twin stick racer, something I can’t recall playing before. The strafing is how you’ll drift in the tight corners and you’ll need to learn to use both steering simultaneously and in harmony. The Right Stick is also what you’ll use to control your pitch when you’re in midair taking jumps and having to aim the nose of your vehicle up or down when it comes to steep inclines.

On top of having to learn how to corner and pre-steer with the Right Stick, you’re also going to have to keep an eye on your various gauges for boost and heat if you want any chance of winning races. You have your regular Boost which you can use at any time as long as you have some in the regenerating meter, but this comes with a caveat. Once you fully use your boost gauge you can continue to boost, but then it starts to deplete your vehicle health pool. That’s right, you can over-boost at the expense of using your health if you want just a bit more speed. This is a dangerous risk versus reward though, as you can deplete your whole shield bar, and if you haven’t mastered cornering yet like described above, you’re going to crash and burn. Once you’ve mastered the tricky steering after a handful of hours you can then rely on boosting an extra amount since your health also regenerates after a short while.

On top of your regular boost you can use whenever, you also need to keep an eye on your Super Boost (for lack of better term). This one is more powerful in its speed boost and lasts the full meter automatically. Slam into a wall and it will automatically shut off, eventually recharging for another use shortly afterwards. The goal is to eventually learn how to manage both Boost meters and the best time to use them to reach some breakneck speeds. The health gauge depletion mechanic is a really interesting way to reward those that have higher skill, able to play on the edge of being destroyed with a single mistimed corner when health is low. The goal is to be almost constantly boosting, something that takes some practice, skill and track memorization.

While the vehicle handling is very difficult to get the hang of, once it ‘clicks’, Redout 2 went from a frustrating last place finish in every race to an exciting and addictive antigravity racer. Combining the drifting and pre-steering with boosting at over 1000 km/h is magical when you’re actually starting to corner properly and not grind along walls every single turn. There are even boosters on the ground that give you a short speed increase when you ride over them.

Even after hours of racing though, I still struggle when taking jumps, as you need to control your pitch and rotation so you land properly. To rotate your ship you need to use the D-Pad while aiming your vehicle to hopefully the right lane with both sticks, holding the trigger for gas and probably a Bumper for boosting. Picture trying to do so at insane speeds and needing some quick thinking and dexterity in your fingers. You’re going to crash and burn plenty of times during these jump sections, as it’s not always clearly apparent where you’re supposed to land or to fix your orientation when the landing isn’t always a flat track. Thankfully there’s an option to auto rotate option for your vehicle landings, something that helped my racing immensely.

A mechanic I found out by accident because the tutorial simply forgot to teach me properly about is that there’s a rewind function like many racers have these days. Didn’t land that jump described above? Rewind time and try again. Overshot the landing spot and crashed into a wall? Try again. Simply knowing about being able to do so earlier on would have saved me a lot of frustration. Given the very high difficulty you can expect to make good use of this rewind now that you actually know about it.

As you progress through the campaign, each event will reward you with an unlock or upgrade. Unfortunately these are unlocked in a linear way, with each part, color scheme, livery and aesthetics tied to specific races. That means you’re going to need to not only play every single event in the campaign, but place well to unlock. Thankfully you only need to earn 1 star in an event to get its unlocked item, but doing so in some of the events were even getting Bronze is a struggle can be quite daunting.

Each event has a specific requirement for you to join, either unlocked via star count (meaning eventually only earning single stars won’t cut it) or your vehicle’s power level. This is raised by swapping out parts for the higher powered and tier ones you unlock from each event. I do like the unlock path for the most part, but given the lengthy Campaign, it’s going to be quite a journey to get all of the unlocks to raise your vehicle power to take on the harder races and leagues.

Redout 2 does have a Multiplayer mode but it almost feels like an afterthought. You can join some unranked races (Ranked is “Coming Soon”) but there’s absolutely no lobby system. That’s right, you’ll join a race online but put into a random lobby. Oh, you want to be competitive online? Well, you better have completed the campaign and have all of the upgrades, as you bring your Career vehicles into online. Racing your 300 power rank versus another’s 1100, you can probably guess the outcome.

Loading times are abundant and surprisingly lengthy, even on an Xbox Series X. Even when you crash and want to restart a race, you’re stuck with a loading screen. Yes, I know I’m spoiled with how quickly most games load these days, but even on the internal hard drive it was shockingly slow. When races load it takes a good few seconds for textures to pop in and load, and you can even tell some of the loading is done in the distance as you’re racing. Yes I was specifically looking for things like that during races, but I couldn’t unsee it once I noticed. The ‘flying’ sections when taking jumps just doesn’t feel great and seems unnecessarily difficult.

Speeding at over 1000 km/h feels great and frantic, especially when you start to corner properly and boost stack. The level designs themselves are impressive overall, though I definitely preferred the outside ‘sky’ races as opposed to the underground ones. The music though is fantastic, having a kick ass electronic soundtrack that keeps your head bopping with 42 original tracks and 9 licensed tracks that lasts over 3 hours. My only complaint for the audio is that you’re going to constantly be annoyed by the shield recharging and low health sound once you learn to start constantly boosting properly.

Redout 2 is absolutely fast as advertised, but it’s going to take some time and dedication to learn its unique twin stick steering and dual boosting mechanics. Even with the difficulty turned down, I can see the way over tuned challenge being a turn off for some, especially since you’re likely to fail the tutorial races. Redout 2 is not new player friendly, but put in the time and it eventually turns into an addictive antigrav racer.

**Redout 2 was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.7 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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