PC REVIEW – The pod racing scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was one of the coolest parts of the movie, and the ships design – part pod racer and part hovercraft – was an inspired update of the classic chariot racing scene from Ben Hur. It’s hard to imagine the inevitable game version of that scene coming close to capturing the same sense of exhilaration and speed as the movie, but you know what? With Team Racing League by indie developer Gamious, it certainly comes pretty darn close!
“If you visit the game’s Steam page, the developers have stated that the inspiration for Team Racing League goes back all the way to the top down racers of the 8 bit and 16 bit eras including namely, Super Off Road and Championship Sprint”
The physic based model and speed lend itself to comparison to Wipeout, with the hovercraft’s anti-gravity repulse lift technology combined with a massive forward thrust. Gamious have done a good job simulating the forces that would occur with two huge mounted engines, including the ability to rein in the throttle back to help on those sharp turns. Thank goodness the simulation element doesn’t get in the way of the prime goal of pure arcade racing.
Team Racing League’s premise combines fast paced racing with team strategy. Two teams battle each other in 3 versus 3 races with the purpose of beating the other team to the finish line! Only one team member needs to finish first to win the race which leaves the other two drivers strategically supporting each other using themselves as roadblocks, obstacles, and barriers in hopes of preventing the other team from coming in first. Of course, the other team is doing the same thing, which can make a six player race a breathtaking experience.
“Let’s cross our fingers that Gamious can get their marketing machine going so that the game gets the attention it needs”
Despite the physics model, controlling your hovercraft isn’t too demanding. While it isn’t as complicated as Wipeouts directional air brakes, it still takes a bit to get used to. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be racing like a pro in no time.
Races take place in only a handful of different tracks, however, the track designed are well laid out and have a good variety, including changes in elevation, shortcuts, jumps, and environmental hazards. If you visit the game’s Steam page, the developers have stated that the inspiration for Team Racing League goes back all the way to the top down racers of the 8 bit and 16 bit eras including namely, Super Off Road and Championship Sprint. I’m old enough to proudly say I’ve played those games on the SNES and NES respectively and it’s pretty clear that I’m having more fun with Team Racing League than I did with the older ones.
“The future can be a lonely, lonely place”
Despite my positive praise of the game, I need to point out some of the obvious kinks in its armor. First, the game is billed as online multiplayer only which makes the single player mode obsolete. I understand that the key feature is in its team racing, but when you have very little people playing online, it sort of defeats the purpose. While I was only able to play less than a handful of games with less than six people, most of my experience online was gazing at the loading screen waiting for players to join. I’m hoping that the developers will insert bots in place of players so we can actually have a game going – even if it’s only single player.
Because of this, I have to knock off a few points on my rating. The game does show strong potential, but what good is potential if no one recognizes it? Let’s cross our fingers that Gamious can get the marketing hype going so that the game can get the attention it deserves.
Team Racing League is currently in Steam’s Early Access.