November 10th, 2011 | By Chris Priestman
Screeching wheels and burning rubber has taken a backseat to pedantic stats fiddling in the racing genre recently. Surely the thrill of the race should always be the focus in a game; the big titles pretentiously adhere to the label ‘simulator’. How fancy. You know what? Keep your fine tuning, posh voiced narrators and la-di-dah pitstop cutscenes; you’ll find me on the track actually having some fun in Nemesys Games‘ Ignite.
Ignite is an arcade racer that bases itself very much on the core of what an arcade racer should be: quick fire action. It’s a pick up and go experience all the way through. The inevitable menu scrolling is kept to a minimum by scrapping the unnecessary digit tweaking and getting to the race as quick as possible. The mainstay of the game is its Campaign mode in which you click-through track selection, car selection, a paint job and then you are off. There are three different race types in total: Race, Rundown and Elimination. The Elimination mode is by far the best simply because of the adrenaline that kicks in when the two of you who are left are tussling it out at the end, despite the AI not being particularly aggressive.
Each of these modes are standard in the genre but take cues from the game’s central risk-reward mechanic. Drifting, tailgating and hitting objects all reward the player with score points. Hitting a wall will cancel any points built up by performing one of these actions; quite obviously spoiling a screechy drift around a corner the most.
Reach a score of one thousand and these points can be drained in exchange for a nitro boost. Holding the allocated nitro button will cause the screen to shake as if an earthquake has suddenly occurred. The cars are quite easy to handle while boosting around, meaning the achievement tied to doing a whole lap while blasting nitro is not an impossibility. There is an advantage to not using these points as nitro as well though. At the end of the race, each thousand points retained knocks off a whole second of your finishing time. While this will not help out in the Elimination or Rundown modes, it provides an interesting variation on the Race mode.
While Ignite is fairly run of the mill in the majority, it will entice you to keep playing due to feeding you with unlocks with every race you win. This could be a new track or two, or preferably a new car. Some races need to be prioritized, as if you do not have a car fast enough in the harder races, then you are going to have to finish first in previous races to unlock that faster cars of your desires. That’s pretty much how the whole game flows – race, unlock tracks and cars, race harder and faster. Outside of the main Campaign mode there is a Freeplay mode which lets you decide which tracks, race mode, number of AI opponents you want with your racing experience. The Multiplayer is the other option but as there is quite literally no one on there you are not going to be playing that unless you have an allocated friend with a copy of the game as well. How unfortunate.
Sticking to the game’s merits, there is a lot of content provided in Ignite. There are a limited amount of tracks but the developers have done a good job of varying them up with course variations and spreading the lifespan of each track out with the different game modes. The car unlocks are gradual and the sight of the faster more slick-looking models will definitely keep you wanting to play on to see how fast they can go. With each race, you are given a bronze, silver or gold award; getting the gold award on most of the tracks is challenging and worth chasing for those looking for a little more bang for their buck. In fact, there is only one real, but very crunching, disappointment within Ignite, and that is the absence of a decent physics engine to provide the satisfying damage seen in other titles. Although you are not going to want your steering affected by bumping into walls or other cars, you are going to want some visual feedback at least. As it is, Ignite only offers a slight bit of visible damage, and that ends up looking like someone has spread cling film over the bonnet. Conversely, the sounds and screen shaking accompanying collisions is quite effective, but that is not enough to alleviate what is quite simply a big hole in this arcade racer.
Now, this does of course sound like a change of heart to appraising the game’s adherence to the arcade tradition; Ignite has been spoiled by peers like the stellar Burnout franchise. With arcade racers following in the tire tracks of that stellar franchise, Ignite is taking a step back with the omission of a more advanced damage system. It’s a real shame.
For what you get in Ignite, it’s a package worth picking up if you find yourself in the mood for a quick whip around a track. Ignite‘s gameplay is mostly satisfying, and always fun to keep on playing without stopping even for a glance at the clock. Sure, it has its disappointments, but overall Ignite will provide you with the racing action you are no doubt chasing, and not a single fine tuning screen in sight!