the meat of any game... When I received Starwinder, I popped it on my
PlayStation thinking to myself, "oh well, might as well take a look at the
newest WipEout clone and get it over with"... I was immediately treated to
a wonderful FMV depicting the discovery of rail 44 and a brief history of the
games... Okay, I said to myself, so the FMV is nice... but hell, it's glitz. The
gameplay will probably suck and I'll be back to WipEout XL and play a REAL hover
craft style game.
I get to the main menu and begin to analyze my
options... I immediately notice that there are at least 40 tracks that I
will need to race through... FORTY! Geese, this is starting to look
interesting. Okay so I go to the ship select screen and notice that I only have
access to the first two of five displayed ships. I notice that each ship has
different characteristics (rail speed, cornering, recovery, acceleration, etc.),
so of course I choose the fastest (although not the best controllable) ship.
You start the game on rail 4 in a race against the clock and drone
ships. So I press the start button and again I am treated to a FMV scene. The
scene comes on like a news breaking broadcast featuring Barlow Lenz as the host
of this racing event. The FMV is crisp and clear and pretty funny! By now I
have thoroughly convinced myself that this game is all production and no
As the rail is loading up I am given the
opportunity to solve a puzzle. It's one of those move and match the pieces
puzzles that form a picture. You are given about 10 seconds to solve the 16
piece puzzle... I fail miserably.
Enough!! I shout, bring on the game! I am now treated to a rather
futuristic countdown with my ship hovering above the rail and enclosed in a
tunnel. 3...2...1...go! I instinctively push the directional pad up and
immediately I dive down towards the track. As I get closer, I can't help but
notice that nothing is pixelating... the track is still nice and clean and
beautifully detailed... oh man, this is getting good! I begin to get as low to
the rail as possible to gain speed (I love speed!). Oh baby, I'm really
cruising now, zipping through the nicely lit corridors of the rail. I notice a
drone ship just ahead and decide to waste him. Bang! I am almost knocked off
my couch, the missile and resulting explosion hits the lower registers of my
sub-woofer! Giddie yup!!!
The next rail is similar to the first,
breaking you in nicely for the challenges that lay ahead. Okay...onto to next
quadrant and rail three...my objective, place in the top three. I am now going
up against another alien in addition to the drone ships. I also notice
something new, at the start of the race my ship is now hovering a considerable
distance above the rail...oh well...3...2...1...dive and pass the alien
scum...hey, wait the bastards shooting at me...I also notice that this rail only
has walls (like wipEout) and no top...it's also a lot more twistier and bendy.
I rip around a corner, climb a hill and don't pull the nose down in time...it's
about this time my jaw drops...I discover something that I had always wished was
possible in WipEout...you can leave the confines of the rail!!!! And
guess what, it's damn hard to get back on the track. While I was enjoying the
freedom to cruise around in open space, I realized that my vehicle wasn't
designed for this purpose. It gets it's speed from the rail itself...damn!!! I
lost the race!...three more attempts.... And that my friends is a little glimpse
at this gem.
Right from the intro you are sucked into the beauty of
Starwinder. You have full six-axis control of your ship. Hell, you can even do
barrel rolls through the rails if you are good enough. All this is done with an
exceptional frame rate and graphical displays. As you cruise the rails you
have to watch out for asteroids littering the tracks (this is outer-space after
all!) and avoid collisions with mines. These are various power-ups that you will
encounter also...My favorite is the wormhole that transports you either further
up or further back on the rail...You are treated to a humorous "news brief"
at the beginning and end of each race.
There are several FMV scenes
for each race, depending on the outcome, pretty neat. I am up to rail 12 and
it's really getting hard. I need to finish first against four of the quadrants
best racers. Plus there are now those damn drone ships that are shooting at
me...at some sections of the rail there is only a bottom...no top...no walls...
Ship four is now available to me but it's just not enough...need more speed to
win... I suck at putting the puzzles together at the beginning of each race, so
I can't tell you what you get if you complete it in time (a new ship perhaps? a
hidden track?). There are at least 8 different puzzles that I have seen...Even
the ones that repeat themselves are scrambled differently. DAMN! You even have
an option to watch each race in a replay mode with insane use of camera angles.
My only gripe? You can only temporarily cripple another ship, you
can't destroy it. At least I haven't been able to yet, but everything moves so
fast, I can't get more than three or four shots off at a time.