Among the last batch of titles released on the Playstation Network in 2016 was Air Race Speed, a Vita port of an earlier mobile title by Polish developer Qubic Games.
Air Race Speed had very little to do with the Red Bull Air Races, instead offering a cross between Wipeout and an endless runner. It has the kind of futuristic tracks and vehicles that are so typical of the Wipeout franchise, but it plays quite a bit like an endless runner – without the endless aspect. In Air Race Speed, you’re zooming through narrow tunnels, corridors and buildings on tracks at breakneck speeds, which look amazingly detailed despite the high speed racing action. The graphics aren’t up to the level of a first party Vita title like Wipeout 2048, but it looks great for an indie title at a budget price.
Track design in Air Race Speed is focused on trials, much like endless runners are. There are no opponents to consider or overtake, and you’re not looping around a track that has a lot of sharp corners. Instead, you’re trying to avoid obstacles and make use of powerups as you go along. A counter tells you how much progress you’ve made, and how close you are to finishing the track.
Despite having the word ‘race’ in its title, it’s likely that Air Race Speed will appeal more to fans of endless runners than it will to race fans. Any good racing game has a healthy dose of competition in it, whether from on-screen opponents or – like in Trackmania – from the scoreboard. Air Race Speed is different, and relies much more on reflexes and some degree of memorization – key ingredients to a lot of endless runners out there. Each race does of course have targets to strive for in terms of improving on previous best times, but the races themselves are so high speed that you’ll hardly have time to focus on anything except hitting power boosts and avoiding obstacles.
Air Race Speed was originally a tablet game, and its limited amount of diverse content echoes this. Luckily, so does its price tag. The game can be bought for under 5 dollars/euros and it feels like it’s a better fit for the Vita than it was for tablets – this is mainly due to the fact that the controls work far better on the Vita, and they’re an essential element to a game like this. It’s not groundbreaking, but a good little timewaster if you have a few dollars/euros left in your account after Playstation’s holiday sale.