You know those types of games that you just cannot but help buy, no matter how much your brain tells you otherwise? That's me with anything that looks like WipEout. If it's going at several hundred kilometres a second and looks like it's hovering above a track somewhere, poof. Money out of the wallet, even though I almost always end up regretting it.
Case in point: Formula Fusion. When it first launched in Early Access, I dropped $36 straight away. $36 on a game that barely had a UI, had one track, one ship and not much else. It's just gotten a mammoth update, and holy hell has the game come a long way in a year.
April 24, 2015. A project launches on Kickstarter. It's pitched as a love letter to WipEout, one of the greatest anti-gravity racing games of all time. It's from a group of British developers called R8 Games, some of whom — as is always the case with these things — were credited on WipEout. They didn't say which WipEout games, not that it mattered.
Formula Fusion raised a touch over $140,000, almost double the original goal. Here's an idea of what it looked like.
That was then. This is Formula Fusion now.
Apart from looking a lot sharper — although the Niagra Falls could use some work there — Formula Fusion now has a bit of structure. When you first open the game, you're asked to pick from one of several racing teams. Each team has three separate ships, and you can individually upgrade all the parts: shields, handling, speed, so on and so forth.
There's even an Australian-themed team called Southern Star that was supposedly formed through a "loose association" of groups including former Hells Angels bikies. How the Hells Angels would end up ditching motorcycles for anti-gravity racing is beyond me, but hey, it's the future right?
Perhaps the best part is the name for the organisation funding Southern Star — the "Melbourne Antigravity Division for Information Technology". Or MAD4IT.
Sounds like a name you'd see at DEFCON, not the race track.
In any case, Formula Fusion has still got a long way to go. But the pieces are starting to come together. Four tracks are available to race on now, and the sense of speed — particularly on the narrower tracks — is precisely what you'd want from a spiritual successor to Wipeout. And it's worth remembering that The Designer Republic are helping R8 out with Formula Fusion, adding their touch of futuristic styling that any anti-gravity racer needs.
The game still needs some optimisation. There are plenty of elements not implemented, and there's more work to be done on the overarching campaign. But Formula Fusion has come a long way. It might not be the Wipeout HD on PC I've always wanted, but it's getting there. And who knows? Sometimes all you need to give a game is a little bit of time — and a bit of faith.
Formula Fusion is currently available in Early Access for $26.30 ($US19.99).