Have you ever wondered what playing a Wipeout or F-Zero game would be like in virtual reality? Bank Limit: Advanced Battle Racing comes pretty close and we’ve taken it for a spin. Here’s the review.
When we say Wipeout, we’re of course referring to the futuristic Playstation racer, not the gameshow. It’s been a while since the last Wipeout game was released, and it’s been almost 10 years since the last TV screen adaptation (2012’s Wipeout 2048 was a Vita exclusive). Bank Limit takes the formula, changes it up a little bit, and brings it to VR platforms.
Bank Limit’s VR focus is a great choice, as well as a risky one – here’s why. For one – the futuristic visuals that the game employs (think Tron meets Wipeout) are perfectly suited for virtual reality. Tracks and backgrounds don’t require large amounts of detail, which is where the Tron reference comes in. Bright colors accentuate the tracks and weapons that you use, and the resources the game doesn’t use on detail work are reserved to keep the game’s performance at a good level. It’s a trade-off that works well for developer Tastee Beverage Studios, and fits within the technology constraints that current VR hardware brings with it.
The choice is also a risky one, because high speed movement – and 9,000 miles per hour racing fits that description – can also make the VR experience uncomfortable for some. This was a real worry for us going into the game, but luckily we didn’t experience any motion sickness. If you’ve been uncomfortable with VR before though… then be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.
Bank Limit: Advanced Battle Racing features no less than 20 different tracks to race on, and there’s a good selection here in terms of diversity in the game’s look and feel. Because of the high speed action that takes place a lot of the tracks started to blend together for us, but that’s how we felt about a lot of Wipeout’s tracks as well. Bank Limit has an element to their race tracks (and vehicles) that Wipeout didn’t have though – the ability to propel yourself skyward and fly for a brief period. During this period, your ability to race and control your vehicle is limited, but you’ll be able to take out opponents using the battle systems you have on board.
We would have been more than content just having a high speed sci-fi racer to play with in virtual reality, and the battle elements made things a little too intense for our liking after a while. This is a matter of personal preference of course, but it’s an opinion shared by both our testers – perhaps we just need more practice. For the time being, we usually find ourselves disabling some of the battle features – which is an option (as pointed out by Harley below).
Aside from single player racing, which was the bulk of our testing experience, the game also offers (arena based) deathmatch play and online multiplayer. The latter is ‘cross-platform’, but don’t get your hopes up. It doesn’t mean the game is coming to consoles and that you’ll be able to go head to head with your Playstation VR-owning buddies, it just means that you can play with a group where it doesn’t matter if players have a Rift, a Vive, or no headset at all. Multiplayer is for up to four players, although more cars can be on the track in any given race. It’s a relatively bare bones battle racing experience, and the world of Bank Limit doesn’t feel as fleshed out as some other racing games. Having said that, what’s there works very well and lives up to what we had hoped for.
The biggest issue gamers will probably have with Bank Limit: Advanced Battle Racing is its price tag – priced at $49.99 at launch it’s one of the more expensive virtual reality titles to date. Most of 2016’s AAA titles can be picked up for a similar price or less, and the benchmark for AAA VR gaming hasn’t been set yet. When it comes to actually being a Wipeout pilot though – instead of just controlling a Wipeout ship – Bank Limit is the closest thing we’ve experienced. And that has to be worth something.