Rise: Race The Future (Nintendo Switch review)

Whilst Rise: Race the Future looks the part, the uninspired modes available, tricky difficulty spikes, lack of any online options and some other small niggles hold it back from being a true classic.

Does that mean its a game worth avoiding? Let’s find out as I review Rise Race the Future on the Nintendo Switch

Watch the video version of this review

The first thing you will have to contend with upon loading Rise for the first time, is the pretty bland and unintuitive menus. I have a big distain for games that make you fight your way through to the fun bits and getting through to a race in Rise is an exercise in frustration, and its unclear at times where you are in the menu or how you change options. It’s a minor niggle in the grand scheme of things, but its something that felt bad enough to mention. 

When you do find your way around the menus, you will find a pretty bare bones offering, with just a Championship mode, a challenge mode and time trials. The championship mode tasks you with running through a decent series of multiple races with points awarded for finishing places. Completing these races unlocks the tracks for time trials, so its definitely worth playing through them. The challenge mode however is more focussed on completing differing tasks in a race rather than finishing places and will see you awarded a medal for finishing a lap within a certain time or finishing without using any boosts. 

Some nice lighting and water effects in play

I found this mode really frustrating and still haven’t beaten the lap time for the 2nd challenge in the game, which shows you how quickly the difficulty ramps up! Thankfully you can attempt any of the 10 challenges per season at any time in an effort to unlock the next season and with it more cars for your garage. I’ll discuss the difficulty in more detail in a bit, but in these challenges, basically if you make a single mistake, you may as well restart the race, which becomes a chore.

So far, not so good then. I do need to say at this point that the game has released at £16 and $16.49 so I’m probably being overly harsh on some things in what is basically a budget title created by a very small team of developers, which at some points was just a sole coder and a graphic artist. 

Thankfully, when you get out to the track, this is where the game absolutely blossoms and any minor niggles are easily forgotten, because Rise Race the Future may just be in contention for the best arcade racing game the Switch has to offer…

Graphics are crisp and bright, with an impressive array of lighting and effects, such as the cars gradually collecting mud and dirt as they slide around the soggy tracks and water drops splash up and persist on the screen as others cars and rain cover you in water. 

Mud and dirt collect on the cars from the track

The frame rate remaining a more or less rock solid 30 frames is really impressive and something many other racers on the Switch have failed to do. The different styles of tracks are similarly impressive, from boggy swamps to blistering deserts, the rally stylings are perfectly integrated but the unique feature that separates this from pretty much every other game in its class is the transition into water based vehicles. Tracks can have bodies of water that once driven onto, allow the cars to instantly transform into hovercraft type vehicles, also changing the feel of the handling and allowing for some sweeping drifts. It’s a very clever system and I love how the cars tyres flick up and down depending on the surface they are over.

I’ll be honest, I wanted to see more of this. Some tracks barely have any water and whilst I’m sure it was a balancing act of making tracks that didn’t overuse this gimmick, it’s so much fun and such a unique idea, that I’d love to have seen it integrated more some how.

Handling generally is on the good side of fine. I’d put it somewhere between Xenon Racer and Gear.Club Unlimited 2. It’s responsive enough and drifting can feel great when you nail a good corner, but every now and again the cars would seemingly oversteer at the slightest turn, putting you on a locked in collision course with a barrier. It didnt happen too often, but was still enough to say that the handling isnt perfect.

The water sections feel nicely different from the usual track

The AI of the 9 other cars is generally ok and serves its purpose of providing a feeling of racing other drivers. Sometimes though the AI cars will clip the back 1/4 of your car, putting you in a near unavoidable spin. If you do spin out or clip some scenery you can pretty much forgot about catching back up with the pack, which probably needs addressing some time in the future.

One other gameplay innovation I want to touch on is the ability to choose how your boost refills. You can choose to have it refill when you are driving over 125kmh, refill when drifting or just have a system of 3 set boosts per lap. I thought this was a brilliant idea and actually brings some strategy into your race set up, as tracks with long straights are probably suited to the first method, but twisty tracks where you can drift a lot would benefit from the 2nd or 3rd methods. I’ve never seen this done in any other racing game and it was a welcome inclusion.

Before my final thoughts, I just need to mention the music which is absolutely awful. Very generic vanilla soft rock music and it just doesn’t suit the game at all and actually makes you feel a bit uncomfortable when playing just how out of place it is. A very odd choice!

The game generates a great sense of speed

SUMMARY

Ok so my closing thoughts on Rise: Race the Future are that despite some frustratingly avoidable niggles, the racing is fun, fast and up there with something like Horizon Chase Turbo.  Unique mechanics like the water based sections and being able to choose your boost type are big plusses and you’ll be blown away by the look and performance of the game in both handheld and TV mode. 

There is also plenty here to work towards unlocking, with new tracks and cars available by working through the challenge and season modes, but the lack of any multiplayer at all, either local or online is a big missed opportunity to cement this game as best in class. I’d love to see at least online leaderboards added for time trials at some point.

Overall, taking into consideration the lower price of entry and the technical qualities in the game, I’m going to award Rise Race the Future on the Nintendo Switch an 8 out of 10, which is testament to just how good the actual racing mechanics are.

SCORE: 8/10

  • RELEASE DATE: July 22nd 2019
  • PRICE: $16.49 / £16.00
  • PUBLISHER: VD-Dev
  • DEVELOPER: VD-Dev
  • eShop Link

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