Until I was about sixteen I had a body numbing fear of speed. Even virtual presentations of moving rapidly would arrest my senses and cause me to feel panicky at the lack of control. Over time, I realized, the source was the cure. Nitronic Rush, like driving a real vehicle, confronts such anxiety directly with every assurance of control over your actions.
The high frequency title is based on an experimental custom-coded engine and was released in 2011 to the world by a team of students attending the DigiPen Institute of Technology. It has received critical acclaim from its peers and acquired a significant fan base due to its spotless, adrenaline fueled gameplay style and rock solid presentation. It’s longevity has been extended by fan made stunt levels and included multiplayer features.
You are CORE, an anti-virus vehicle dispatched to eliminate an invading virus threatening your designated system. In a Tron inspired, digital world, you are the sheriff. With boost, wing and stunts galore, you will bypass every obstacle hurled your way and crash the disruptor entirely.
Technically Nitronic is a streamlined, highly optimized engine that plays smoothly under every circumstance. As a player, both keyboard and XBox 360 controllers are enabled for all of your daring dos and evils kinevil. Respawn checkpoints frequent the tracks and even a self-destruct option allows you to restart from the most recent at your leisure–nay, convenience.
Efficiency is represented by high score and time recorded, and are second only to the ride. You’re encouraged to push the limits, but never penalized for performing below any pre-determined expectation. You are the judge of your skill, and will know if you’ve reached your own capacity.
Nitronic Rush shines with excellence in attention to detail in spite of the brevity of the story based gameplay. You may, if you desire, try your hand in over a dozen stunt, hard-mode and multiplayer levels to extend your time. Regrettably, the fun will end much more quickly than you wish.
While techno soundtracks can feature too heavily on the lower end of the equalizer and forget that loops don’t make for lasting impressions, Torcht and The Quiggles’ performance hails more closely to Wendy Carlos’ soundtrack for the original Tron motion picture than Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy. Enhanced by technical tricks that sync parts of the audio performance to yours adds to the encouragement of pushing the limits.
What’s fun: Everything. Tricks are a riot and even ‘clumsy’ moves can have spectacular results. Nitronic is as solid a reality as it is stylish. Not once have I noticed any clipping or below par texture quality (for the relative few that exist). Immersion is prime realty, and the price is almost too good to be believed.
What’s not: Keyboard controls work fine, but gamepad users will prefer the comfort and flexibility of the latter. Unfortunately controls are slightly overcomplicated, but having two buttons that perform the same function allows you to make instant and vital on-the-fly adjustments. Most importantly, remapping is an option if all else fails. Voiced announcements of your stunts can become somewhat wearisome, but never become annoying just by virtue of their variety and color.
Recommendation: Download the free, full version of this game from the Nitronic Rush website. While youre at it, grab the soundtrack, you won’t regret it. This team is hard at work on more advanced game entitled Distance which looks to be every bit as remarkable, and is currently available on Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux.