Racing games have always been a popular genre in gaming and while simulation and arcade racers have often been the most played, futuristic titles have still had an important part to play. Nintendo has the F-Zero franchise and Sony has the Wipeout series, Microsoft though do not have their own signature futuristic racer leaving Xbox players without too much choice for their racing needs. In fact, fans of all three publishers have had little to cheer about as the last full F-Zero game was released in 2003 for the GameCube while the last Wipeout was Wipeout HD for the PlayStation 3 in 2008.
So the fact that GameArt Studio has decided to try their hand at creating a game in the same spiritual mold of those legendary series should be good news. After all, more choice can never be a bad thing, and the Xbox One really only has a limited range of racing titles right now. But just how good is Quantum Rush: Champions and does it live up to other similar games?
The first thing you notice from Quantum Rush is that it is obviously trying to emulate both F-Zero and Wipeout. It features anti-gravity vehicles that travel around twisting courses at incredible speeds. There is also plenty of content considering that this is an ID@Xbox title rather than an AAA game developed by a large studio. There are 14 tracks and a host of game modes, including time trials, death matches, boss battles as well as the usual races you would expect to find.
The game essentially revolves around you completing the various events and tiers for each of the three manufacturers. You are scored on your performance with a medal system and can level up your vehicle and abilities after each race, something that you will have to do if you want to have any chance of completing the later levels. At the end of each tier you will have to defeat a boss. While it’s an interesting idea the concept falls apart somewhat thanks to the sheer difficulty. Bosses will regularly speed away from you at the start of a level and race around without you ever being able to catch them.
This is also the case for several of the game modes, with the ones that require you to fight enemies becoming frustrating simply because they can escape your grasp with complete ease. In terms of the actual racing though, the title is fun. The tracks can be completed in a variety of ways thanks to the many routes they have, while almost every surface can be flow over. These features allow you to explore, take unique routes or gain the advantage by flying upside down through a tunnel.
Where Quantum Rush does exceed though is in the ability to allow you to remap the controller. It is completely customizable, allowing you change which buttons do particular actions. This is a feature that can be incredibly useful and even allow disabled gamers to play games they might otherwise not be able to and yet it is sadly missing from most titles.
In terms of performance, Quantum Rush certainly has some issues. While the visuals themselves are impressive, featuring a large variety of expansive landscapes and colorful levels, the game is let down in other departments. Screen tearing affects the otherwise excellent graphics on an occasional basis, while the game will also stutter and freeze every now and again. These are brief distractions though and don’t do too much to harm the overall gameplay.
What does is the unstable frame rate. Drops to the frame rate are both frequent and potent, meaning that controlling your ship in the various game modes can become cumbersome – something you really don’t want in a game that really requires precise controls. It is even more pronounced in game modes featuring several enemies or opponents, with the frames per second clearly dropping to below 30 during intense action.
There are also issues with the lack of a proper tutorial or explanation about some of the important features. The developers haven’t really detailed how the power-ups work, how to use them or how to charge up your energy. Instead, you are simply left to stumble upon the answers as you play through the game. Quantum Rush could really have done with some sort of glossary to explain the various power-ups and weapons along with a proper tutorial to guide players through the basics.
Bizarrely, the game also offers not multiplayer mode at all. Many ID@Xbox games don’t feature online multiplayer, probably because of budgetary constraints, most still implement an offline local option. This genre of games is almost designed specifically to be played with friends and this lack really does pose a severe limitation.
Overall, Quantum Rush shows plenty of promise and certainly looks like it could take up the mantle of the futuristic racer while Nintendo and Sony sit on their own franchises. However, it ultimately falls short thanks to numerous technical issues, problems with some of the game modes and frustrating gameplay that seems inherently unfair. If you really enjoy this style of racing, there is plenty of content to keep you busy but if you are after a racer that you can pick up and play for a few minutes then you will be sorely disappointed.
GameArt Studio provided a copy of Quantum Rush: Champions for review purposes. The game released on June 20 and is available to buy for $14.99, although it is exclusive to the US Xbox Store.