Look mum, no wheels.
If I ask you to think of a futuristic racer about hovering cars, you’ll most likely think of Wipeout or F-Zero. There’s a good reason for this; no one has managed to come close to bettering these 2 racers. In their absence from the App Store, AXL: Full Boost tries its best to fill the gap, and it doesn’t do a bad job.
We’ve had hover racers before on the App Store, but most of them have either been solo affairs, with no other cars to race against, or have had something major wrong with them. AXL: Full Boost aims to buck the trend and provides full on racing around dangerously curvy tracks at high speed.
From the moment the menus appear it’s clear that this aims to emulate Wipeout in look and, at times, in feel. The white minimalistic backgrounds and hexagonal icons are a bit of a give-away. It’s no bad thing, with Wipeout being one of the most impressive racers supported by an army of fans, who wouldn’t want a version on iOS? The cars, tracks and weapons all provide a nod to Sony’s game.
Graphically, the game gets the looks spot on and the tracks wind off into the distance while still moving at a fair rate. Cars don’t look as shiny or as neatly designed as their Sony or Nintendo counterparts, but they do the job well enough.
But once you get on to the track and start racing there are some very obvious differences, both good and bad. The boosts are still there, built up by collecting orbs dotted around the track. Here, though, they are activated by pressing on the screen near or on your craft. The issue is that this is also the braking system and the ship will slow down while you build up boost , ready to shoot off as soon as you let go.
Once you do go into boost mode cornering changes from simply steering around the bend to a sort of Quicktime event where swiping at the right time is the difference between taking a corner and smashing head-first into the barrier. It’s tricky to move from standard cornering or keeping your craft level using the tilt controls to swiping to corner and can result in slowing down your vehicle, even if you do manage to take the corner successfully.
Weapons are also dotted around the track as orbs of different colours. Picking up a weapon will enable it via an icon on the bottom right of the screen and will also remove the orb from the track, preventing other craft from picking it up. The weapons range from fences that block the path of racers behind you, to bombs that can slow down the racer in front.
I found the tilt controls hard to get used to and had to change the sensitivity settings several times before finding the sweet spot that would let me take corners at speed, but even them I found moving from this mode to swiping during a boost was distracting and often ended up with uneven results. I would have preferred a choice of controls or, better still, airbrakes on the left and right that would allow me to corner faster when either boosting or just travelling at high speed.
Likewise, the boost system itself, while providing an element of strategy by having to slow down before releasing the boost, felt a little too restrictive. I can see what the developers were aiming for, but I feel that a boost button would still have worked better.
Despite the control issues and a few odd choices, AXL: Full Boost is still a good racer that should satisfy most cravings for a Wipeout clone on iOS.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 7
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