iPhone/iPad App Review: Repulze

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Pixelbite is the studio responsible for Reckless Racing, one of the very best casual racing games available for the iPhone. Its latest game is Repulze, another racer, this time with a sci-fi edge which is reminiscent of WipeOut along with tunnel racing games such as Supersonic. So, although it may fit into the same genre, Repulze is a very different type of game to Reckless Racing.

You pilot a futuristic hovercraft and must race along twisting, turning tracks, all the while gaining experience points to unlock new locations and better vehicles. Your craft accelerates to top speed without any help from you, and while it’s fast, it’s not fast enough; so you need to pass through energy gates to power-up a boost. Once you’ve hit three gates, you can get a few moments of extra speed, all the while passing through more gates to power the next one.

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The twist is, the gates are coloured red or green, and you must pick the one which matches the energy polarity of your craft at that given moment. You start with red polarity, but after you’ve hit three gates and received your boost, the polarity switches to green and you’ll need to go for the green checkpoints instead. Pass through the wrong colour and your hovercraft slows down, or if you’re on boost, it cuts the already short runtime off instantly.

There’s not much else to Repulze, which in this case is a good thing, as by not making it needlessly complicated or adding in too many challenges the game has been kept simple and therefore highly playable. That isn’t to say it’s easy, far from it, as the game takes considerable practice to play well. For a start, you’ve got no brakes and are penalised after the game ends for banging into the walls, so not only do you rely on your hovercraft’s handling to keep you on the track, but also your quick reactions. Add in the odd delivery hovercraft getting in the way and you’ll need multiple races before you get a feel for where the track is going next. That’s even before you get used to boosting too, as things get even more chaotic at twice the speed.

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If there’s one thing Repulze has an abundance of, it’s speed, and while it’s tempting to stay off-boost and not crash into everything, the time limits are very tight and require multiple boosts per lap to even come close. It’s better to boost as often as you can, so you get used to controlling your craft at the higher speeds. Each track has three goals to achieve – usually things like completing the race under a set time, not hitting the walls more than three times and making a certain amount of boosts – and each one gives you experience points. You start as a rookie and advance through different levels as you gain more points. As you do, you access new hovercraft, which makes it a little easier to beat the tracks and unlock new ones.

The controls are very basic, but you’re still given the choice between three control methods. The first gives you a button on either side of the screen for left and right, the second gives a slider and the third uses the accelerometer for tilt controls. In each case, boost is activated by tapping the screen. The buttons don’t offer the required amount of accuracy, and although the tilt is good, it’s still too annoying. Luckily, the slider control is excellent, offering both accuracy and simplicity.

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Pixelbite has recently updated Repulze to add more tracks, a ghost car so you can see how well you’re doing against previous attempts on the same track, plus some new tracks.  The tracks are short enough to fit a couple of races into a five minute gap, but it’s engrossing enough to keep you occupied for much longer if you have the time, plus the game is tough and won’t be beaten in five minutes. It looks brilliant, is really fast and smooth, has a good soundtrack and is universal for the iPhone and the iPad.

Reckless Racing may be the more complex game, but Repulze is certainly a purer mobile gaming experience, and it comes highly recommended. It’s yours to download right now and costs £1.49.

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