Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Flow Rider (XBLIG): "An Affordable Yet Impressive Top-Down Boat Racing Game"

Flow Rider is one of those XBLIG titles that pushes the boundaries between what an indie game offers, and what an arcade (XBLA) game offers. Triple B Games the developers behind 'Flow Rider' have made the game easily accessible to players, and presented it in a visually stunning manner. The game itself features both single, and multiplayer modes that can be played online and offline. The singleplayer mode has 4 racing tiers with 5 races in each tier. There are a total of 19 tracks (Deluge, Laguna, Pipeline ...) to play on, and 4 vehicle types (Behemoth, Cyclone, Scarab, Splitter) to choose from. The boats feature simple color customization, and vehicle specific attributes (speed, boost, armor, agility) that effect how the boat maneuvers within the game. The tracks in 'Flow Rider' feature dynamic lighting, and an ever-changing prism of colors. The game is all about speed, and winning. Getting that 1st place medal in the game will require the proper use of boosts, and track shortcuts.

Gameplay in 'Flow Rider' is very simple. The only controls used are the (Left Thumbstick) for movement, and the (Right Trigger) for boosts. Each race/track in the game features a unique layout. Some of the tracks include shortcuts that can be taken to increase your chance at placing higher. Your boosts are limited during the races, so using them at the right time will definitely help you win. If you waste them then the opposite is true, and you will most likely place beyond 3rd. In singleplayer mode the goal is to get either a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place medal on each of the tracks. There are five tracks that must be completed to 50%, or beyond within each tier in order to unlock the next tier. Some tracks feature multiple laps while others are only one lap long, and rely on a speedy completion. I assume the online mode works the same except the host of the match gets to choose which track you race on. I'm not sure if medals are applied to the online mode though? I was actually unable to get an online match going due to the absence of online players, but I noticed that the game keeps track of your wins which is definitely cool.

In the end I thought this game was absolutely stunning. Everything about it was rendered with awesome 3D details. The menus were actually as visually impressive as the game itself. The controls are very easy to pick up on, and the racing mechanics were applied very well. I liked how 'Triple B Games' gave each boat it's own unique stats/attributes. I also really loved how the lighting in the tracks were done. It's one of the best top-down racers I have ever seen, and what's more impressive is that it's an indie game. I can't actually remember if the 'Flow Rider' costs 80 msp, or 240 msp but it's definitely worth it. I was in hopes that I could play it online, but I was unable to do so. Maybe if enough people start playing it I'll get my chance.

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