Track­ma­nia Turbo PC, PS4, Xbox One

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Phaser Lock In­ter­ac­tive For­mat PSVR, Rift, Vive (tested) Re­lease Out now (Vive), TBA (PSVR, Rift)

Tell you what: how about you put out your own damn fire? We’re air traf­fic con­trol, not the fire de­part­ment. Or so we thought. So fre­quently are our skies clogged with pas­sen­ger jum­bos, mil­i­tary jets and light air­craft with en­gines aflame that we spend as much time in Fi­nal Ap­proach’s first level on the ground, aim­ing a hose at a pro­pel­ler, as we do up in the sky.

Which is a crush­ing shame, be­cause that’s where Fi­nal Ap­proach, as the name im­plies, is at its best. The pre-re­lease demo was one of the high­lights of our early days with Vive (see E292). The core me­chanic, of us­ing the con­troller to point at a plane or he­li­copter and draw its land­ing path in a 3D space, is still de­light­ful, but in the tran­si­tion from demo to full game Phaser Lock In­ter­ac­tive has de­cided that a lit­tle va­ri­ety is needed. So it flings in a few dis­trac­tions, adds some need­lessly oner­ous fail states, and just keeps on go­ing and go­ing.

As well as putting out fires, you’ll find your­self zoom­ing down to ground level to scare birds off the run­way with an air horn, turn­ing on gen­er­a­tors, even aim­ing gun tur­rets at way­ward drones. Ig­nore them and ac­ci­dents will hap­pen, de­plet­ing your Karma bar. If it’s empty, you’ll have to restart – some­thing to be avoided at all costs given lev­els are so over­long. So down you go, leav­ing your post, per­haps fail­ing to no­tice a fighter on a col­li­sion course with a pas­sen­ger jet, or a he­li­copter run­ning out of fuel. All of this dis­tracts you from the core ob­jec­tive of keep­ing the skies clear – which you need to do to progress. Your cur­rent task might be to help a set num­ber of he­li­copters land, re­fuel and take off again, but they won’t even ap­pear in the sky un­less you clear out the cur­rent hold­ing pat­tern to make room for them. Ev­ery fire ex­tin­guished or drone shot down is time that would be bet­ter spent on the task at hand. Mis­sions, as a re­sult, seem to last for­ever.

And be­fore long, they’re frus­trat­ing for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. An air­port ter­mi­nal is enough of a headache with its criss-cross­ing run­ways, and the need to get pas­sen­ger, mil­i­tary and pri­vate air­craft to dif­fer­ent ter­mi­nals. But Phaser Lock has de­cided this isn’t com­plex enough, adding a fleet of AI-con­trolled trucks that pot­ter around the place on set routes with scant re­gard for their own safety. They plough straight into planes that are cross­ing their path, chip­ping away at your Karma, though by this point you won’t re­ally care – you’ll be look­ing for some­thing else to play. A late de­tour into an alien in­va­sion shows the ex­tent to which Phaser Lock has strug­gled to turn a con­vinc­ing demo into a com­pelling game. The re­sult is a dis­mally paced and hugely frus­trat­ing ex­pan­sion of a fine core me­chanic, and a badly missed op­por­tu­nity.

The green ar­row sig­nals an air­craft in need – this one will need to land, taxi to the ser­vice hangar, then park up at the ter­mi­nal to re­fuel. You’ll need to land just about every­thing, how­ever, for a three-star mis­sion rat­ing

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