by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
Levelling the Playing Field
Racing games have never been high on my list of games to watch and I think I know why now. After spending a few hours playing Velocity Stream with a couple of friends, having loads of fun with it, I started thinking about why I disliked racing games in the first place. When I was a kid, starting to dabble in gaming, the racing games I played belonged to my friends. I went over to their house to play Rally Cross, and they came over to my house to play Tekken. Of course I always kicked their asses because it was my game and I knew everything there was to know about it, but for some reason I never even made it close enough to them to see their tail lights. It just goes to show how oblivious of such things you are as a child. I never saw the connection. Of course they had each and every track memorized and knew how every car handled so by comparison, I looked like a calf on ice. Thus, my prejudice for racing games was born.
Velocity Stream is a game designed to combat this issue and make split-screen racing fun again. It does this by completely removing all pre-fabricated tracks from the experience. That way, your friends will have no clearer an idea as to what is to come than you do, and it works brilliantly. The “activator” mode even allows racers who have already won or lost to keep racing, thus minimizing downtime between races. The developers over at Cavelight Entertainment gave us a copy of their work-in-progress to try out and, although in early development, it's a promising project that just oozes potential.
Racers vs. The Road Constructor
The game is designed to allow four players on the screen at a time but just three of those are ordinary racers. The fourth player is flying around in a massive ship which leaves behind it a paved road. That road is what the other three racers have to race on. This way, the fourth player has complete control over the layout of the track and there is no way, other than consulting with the enemy, that any one player has a greater chance of winning than you do. As the road has no edges, the racers can very easily fall off if they fail to make a turn and if they do, their controls will swiftly transform from racing mode to flying. They'll then have a limited amount of time to get themselves back on the road before being disqualified.
You might be thinking “sounds like fun, by I don't really see the excitement in being the paver.” Well, you'd be absolutely wrong. Each race has a countdown timer and if that timer reaches zero the paver loses. There are checkpoints he can pick up to extend his time, but the object of the game for him is to throw the racers off the track. The first racer to catch him, on the other hand, wins. It is therefore imperative for the paver to make the track as complicated as he possibly can as he travels a bit slower than the racers, so forcing them to lick the edges of the track at every turn, preferably throwing them clean off, is the only way he has a chance to beat them. In the final release, the Paver will be able to to pick up power-ups which will enable him to create narrower, more slippery roads and other tricks to help him get rid of those pesky racers.
New Staple of Gaming Parties
The idea is brilliant and the game looks like a début indie title that's worth its mettle. There's a lot of work to be done polishing it up for release but I can very easily see it being the staple of many gaming parties once it's out, as well as having a sizeable online following on its servers. I wouldn't blame you if you're hearing about it here first as, too my shame, this game has flown completely under my radar until now. After a chance meeting with the developers at Gamescom, however, I'm fixing it as a notable blip on my screen from here on.