By Adam Ames
Developed by the students of DigiPen Institute of Technology, Nitronic Rush is quite an achievement. In a landscape where the PC combat/survival racers are becoming more and more popular, Nitronic Rush sets the tone for any future studio thinking about creating a PC racing game.
We Don’t Need No Stinking Story
Your car is set up as an anti-virus program and by racing in the nine available Story Tracks, your goal is to reboot and clean each area of Nitronic City that has become unstable. Each track offers a variety of obstacles which are tackled by using maneuvers such as, barrel rolls, jumping side boots and even sprouting wings to fly over or through path blockers. Nitronic Rush is just simply fun to play. In reality, it does not need a story as the gameplay takes center stage.
Multiplayer is absent in Nitronic Rush, which is fine considering the time and money needed to implement even a basic MP component. You can still race against Ghosts from other players online and upload your own Ghosts, track time and scores.
After you complete the Story Mode, there is an Arcade Mode which lets you play through previous levels in an attempt to beat old high scores. Also available are Challenge Mode and Hardcore Mode where you are faced with some pretty difficult tracks and goals to complete.
You Must Learn Control!
The only issue with Nitronic Rush is the inability to customize the controls. The game plays well enough with the default settings using the Xbox 360 and Logitech F310 controllers, but it would have been nice to change the button mapping to fit the style of the individual player. As it stands, there are only two controller layouts to choose from where the layout is slightly altered. If you are using another brand of controller, you will have to figure out the buttons by trial and error. As always, the keyboard is an option for those who do not have a gamepad, however to get the best out of Nitronic Rush, a controller is highly recommended. In terms of in-game controls, the car feels a little floaty at times, especially during jumps or barrel rolls, but nothing game breaking.
And The Beat Goes On
The soundtrack, created by Jordan Hemenway and M.J. Quigley and recently became available to download for free, is perfectly in tune with how the game feels. The techo beats blast through your speakers, and while the announcer can get a little old, the overall audio presentation for Nitronic Rush is nothing short of spectacular.
Nitronic Rush takes its art style from the 1982 film, Tron, while expanding on a few ideas of their own as to what a city would look like set in a Tron-like universe. The graphical presentation fits together nicely with all other aspects of the game.
There is not much to the Options screen of Nitronic Rush. Widescreen resolution support and the ability to alter the refresh rate are there, but nothing more. Audio sliders for FX, Music and Announcer are also available. Every PC gaming studio only needs to look at a this group of students to know you can properly implement widescreen support. Why AAA companies still struggle with this aspect today remains a mystery.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Money?
Usually what we do here at TPG is offer advice on the asking price of the games reviewed. Since Nitronic Rush is free, the question becomes if this title is worth any money at all. Nitronic Rush offers a splendid experience which stands out above even games from AAA studios. This game is comparable to the twenty dollar Ignite, and while not in the same league as Trackmania in terms of scope, Nitronic Rush still holds its own. If Nitronic Rush became available in a retail setting, there would be no problem laying down at least 10 bucks, if not more.
Here is to hoping Team Nitronic will either be picked up by a larger PC gaming company or secure enough funds to open their own studio. Nitronic Rush can easily be used as a jumping off point to eventually challenge other PC racing titles like FlatOut 2 or Burnout: Paradise.