Radial-G hands-on: the sci-fi Oculus Rift racer with echoes of F-Zero

Ben Griffin at

Radial-G’s tagline promises ‘racing revolved’, which is a rather clever way of saying, “the tracks in this futuristic hover-racer are cylindrical.” Hey, works for me. From newly established Brighton-based company Tammeka, Radial-G sees dozens of players thrust boosters over weird and wonderful alien worlds.

Though the demo I played was limited—one ship, one course, no rivals—there’s the germ of a good idea here. That idea being to blast through fully rotatable tracks while dodging a 360-degree spread of obstacles. There wasn’t much more in this pretty sci-fi city than spinning red force fields and green boost-pads, but I’m told later courses will be enlivened with splits, jumps and width-changes.

It feels hasty to pass verdict at this stage. Mario Kart is a different game when you've got the course to yourself, and I can imagine it's the same here. This was more to get a feel for Radial-G’s Oculus Rift support, which I’m happy to say functions faultlessly (though the game works just fine without one). Looking ahead to see the track snaking into the distance gave me the roller coaster wobbles, and glancing down gave me glimpses of a Tron-esque cockpit. No pilot models yet, though.

If it felt like a tech demo, that’s because, in part, it was. Tammeka promise more substance for release later this year, featuring ships you can customise with shields and weaponry, optional pilots that look like the cast of Episode 1’s Podrace redrawn by H.R. Giger, modes such as championships, tournaments and eliminators, and up to 32-player online competition.

“Everyone in the team is obsessed with racing games, science-fiction and virtual reality so it was a logical step to combine our primary interests with our skillset and create a futuristic, sci-fi arcade racer for VR,” says Geoff Cullen, game director. “With our racing and online multiplayer studio pedigree, coupled with experience of developing complex environment databases for virtual reality, with Unity and Oculus Rift, we feel we are the perfect team to bring this experience to the masses.”

In anticipation of Radial-G's launch on Kickstarter tomorrow, July 3, and its application to the Steam Greenlight voting process, Tammeka is opening up the demo to all. Head to their site for a slice.