Racing along a track, I dodge the 5 laser-beams trying to cut my car in half. I make it past the 3 saw-blades, spinning in the track. Home free! Oh, a laser across the track – jump over it. Where’s the track gone? It’s above me… ok, turn on flight mode, perform a 180 rotation in mid-air, and land on the upside-down track. Then it does it again. 180 mid-air rotation.
Now the track is on the side – I need to jump, go to flight mode, and perform a 90-degree turn, before landing on the new track.
The above happened over maybe 15 seconds.
This game is intense. It’s beautiful. It’s so hardcore it’s almost illegal.
Distance is a futuristic racer, combining Tron-style visuals with “car-converts-to-plane-and-back-again” track insanity. The game puts a lot of focus on being fast. And it is fast. And bright.
While it’s still Early Access (with rumours of a final release towards the end of the year), it offers an awful lot of fun with its various modes. Single player, or online / split-screen multiplayer across modes like Sprint, Reverse Tag, Stunt and Challenge. In addition to the range of included tracks, it features “Trackmogrify”; a way of creating new random tracks from a seed value. In some racing games, that might be a touch dull – a random track just has a few more twists and turns than any other random track.
But in Distance, with its fixation on cutting your car in two, or causing it to explode, or plummet to its death, there’s an awful lot of variation.
Dodging between fixed laser beams spread across the track, weaving between saw blades embedded in the track. And then, suddenly, the track rotates 90 degrees. Or 180 degrees. And you’re expected to jump, flip, and ride along the ceiling. And just as quickly, flip 180 degrees back. Then weave between barriers that appear out of the road. And… wait, where’s the road gone? Time to go into flight mode…
The game cleverly handles nitro and flight with a “power” system, that sees the car explode if nitro is used continuously without hitting a checkpoint. Hitting a checkpoint resets the timer by “recharging” the car.
Otherwise, your car begins to flash, and a loud audio warning kicks in to tell you if you keep applying nitro, your car will explode.
Luckily, it’s not the end of the world if you do destroy your car – and there are so many different ways of destroying your car. But it’s also surprisingly resilient. Even if it has been sliced in two, it will continue to drive along – and if you can hit a checkpoint, the part of the car you lost will regenerate without slowing you down.
And if you get bored of a need for speed, you can always try Stunt mode – where you get points for the most insane stunts possible. Drive straight up the ramp into the air, enable plane mode straight up, and then dive – performing 360 horizontal and vertical spins, before landing on your tyres. Pull it off for mega points, and to feel like a God.
My only tiny niggle about the game – and it’s entirely a personal preference thing – is that I wish the car had more “weight”. It handles like it’s made of plastic – I’d love to drive it at high speed, and perform flips, but with a more realistic physics model. Maybe it only sounds fun in my head – perhaps the reality of trying to perform high speed 180 flips would become a pain in the ass if the vehicle handled like a car. But it would be something I’d love to see, if only to find out.
Pros: It is intense. Visually, aurally, mentally.
- A wonderful use of style to create a Blade Runner stylised world.
- Fast, intricate racing. No “drive around in a circle” to be had, here.
- The multiplayer – both split-screen and online, is solid. The game still zooms along.
- A lot of different modes to play around with.
Cons: It is what it is. Don’t go looking for any depth, it’s shiny, pretty and fast.
- The car doesn’t feel “weighty” enough to me.
- It’s more of a “pick up and put down” game, than “I fancy an hour or two playing…”
A fast and furious racing game, that expands on the basic mechanics, and includes a variety of game modes. The graphics and music are beautifully vivid. And it’s fun.
What’s not to like?