Have you ever noticed that video games spend a lot of time in the future? From stellar empires fraught with war to utopias where gaming is the be-all and end-all of daily life, video games show us what the future might be like. Kinetica is no exception. In this future man and machine have been merged via Kinetic suits that put racers into high speed competition across walls, ceilings, and any other handy surface. This is competition where it's just you, a couple wheels, and all the speed you can handle.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Futuristic racing games tend to blend into each other -- futuristic cars racing on otherworldly tracks. It takes something special to stand out from the crowd. Kinetica's twist is the vehicles. The racers wear their racing machines -- special racing suits that give their drivers the ability to adhere to almost any surface. This leads to some very creative track designs. Some tracks twist through urban sprawl, taking you across the sides and tops of buildings as you careen around tight turns. Others traverse airy courses suspended high above the ground or they wind through the connecting tubes of an orbiting station. All told there are over 12 gravity-defying tracks.
In addition to the wild courses, Kinetica includes a variety of racing machines that range from skin tight suits with wheels on each hand and foot to a heavy two-wheeled motorcycle-like suit. Each suit has its own speed and handling characteristics. Any one of the suits can take you to victory, which one works best for you depends on your own racing style.
As you rip around the tracks you can take shortcuts to cut your time. Many of these shortcuts require that you have speed boost available to reach them. This boost can be acquired in two different ways. The first (and most common) is to perform tricks. There are a few that can be pulled off while on the ground and dozens more that require you to take off from a jump first. Mixing together tricks increases the bonus. The other way to pick up boost is through powerups. There are orange and purple gems scattered throughout the levels -- collecting five orange or one purple will give you a random powerup. In addition to speed boost you may get a burst attack, which drains the other racers' power momentarily, or enhanced trick speed.
Graphics & Audio
The graphics in Kinetica have lots of eye candy. The environments are filled with lots of transparent surfaces and flashy lighting. The high tech environments looks best with their clean lines and sharp edges. In the more rugged, organic locations the detail breaks down into jaggies in some spots. The only real serious issue is that in these complex environments you'll sometimes hit spots where all the effects can cause slowdown. This is especially noticeable when you're in a tight pack with other racers.
The sound effects are also nicely done, mixing with the special effects to give the racing suits a very high-tech feel. The music tracks are decent, but often don't blend with the racing action. I ended up turning off the music after a half dozen or so races.
Kinetica is lots of fun -- racing fans will want to grab this one. There are enough secrets and features to keep you playing for hours. The unique racing experience offered here stands out from the pack of futuristic titles with high-speed action and gorgeous graphics. Both fun and challenging, Kinetica is well worth a look.