The futuristic arcade racer is dead. Nintendo brought the genre to the popular consciousness with the launch of the SNES and strangled it through neglect over the coming decades. Other developers have tried to capture the magic that makes people yearn for another F-Zero, but their endeavors never quite capture the imagination. Redout 2, the latest game from 34BigThings and Saber Interactive, is another in that long line. It has modern graphics, intricately designed tracks, and a variety of vehicles that fit every gameplay style. What it doesn't have is the intangible, the transportation to a fantastical future that makes this entire enterprise worthwhile. Redout 2 is a fine guess at a car game set in the far future, but it's a layman's effort in a genre that demands so much more.
There's not much to Redout 2 beyond the track, which becomes evident upon booting it up for the first time. There's a campaign that starts things off with slow tutorials that explain the unique steering and cooling mechanics in great detail. For some reason, this obvious starting point isn't the default on the menu. Instead, players just hitting buttons until the game comes on will fall into the "arcade" mode, a free-play option that lets players customize races and time attacks to their heart's content. There's no ladder of increasingly tricky races and no default game modes to try. Instead, you have a settings menu with a bunch of options to experiment with, resulting in an experience where I have to roll the dice and hope I can replicate the scenarios where Redout 2 shines best.
This isn't to say that the racing itself is at fault. Redout 2 provides a great sense of speed and fun moments of hair-raising stuntwork throughout its various courses. Air control over vehicles is a prominent feature, forcing you to pay attention to your jetcar's positioning to keep momentum between jumps. Some tracks take this too far with overlong laps or complicated layouts, becoming a game of memorization instead of in-the-moment maneuvering. Still, there's genuine fun to be had in grinding against enemy vehicles or capturing a world record pace after what seems like hours of work.
Redout 2 doesn't make it easy to achieve this zen, thanks to a lackluster presentation and a sincere disregard for pushing players in the right direction. The menu is stark, with boring fonts and little in the way of guidance. The mission select in the campaign and all the options in the arcade mode are laid out from the get-go, robbing you of any sense of progression as you keep plugging away. In addition, options for community and tournaments sit with a "Coming Soon" message despite the game being fully released and not in a state of Early Access. This problem goes beyond just Redout 2, but it doesn't fill me with confidence to see half of the main menu locked behind a promise and a dream.
You can do a few things besides race in Redout 2, including customizing your futuristic speedster. I found that tuning the cars for speed and power recalled more Gran Turismo and less Forza Horizon. I'm constantly looking for racing games that reflect Burnout, but that's seemingly a lost cause. Even with reduced expectations, Redout 2 feels more aligned with a gearhead's dream than a future vision from decades past. You can undoubtedly tweak things five ways to Sunday, and some of the parts of fun names of corporations that don't exist, but I found no want or need to tweak beyond a curious first attempt. The arcade mode does away with most of this anyway, presenting premade vehicles with a paltry bit of lore as an attempt to develop some character.
Redout 2 Review | Final Thoughts
That's really what Redout 2 lacks at the end of the day. It's not a game that sticks with you, even if the racing is solid and filled with colorful graphics. Track descriptions and loading screens describe a future world that an algorithm could generate, and all the narrative hooks lead to environments that could boil down to the generic elemental surroundings of any given Mario Kart. During each session, whenever there was a straightaway, my mind wandered intermittently. The only aspect of gameplay keeping my attention was trying to keep my car upright and ahead of the competition, and the races demanded a mechanical mastery that ensured I wasn't very good at either. Considering the lack of attention that Redout 2 pays to its surroundings, I'm not sure it's worth the investment to get better.
TechRaptor reviewed Redout 2 on Xbox Series X with a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 5.
- Solid gameplay fundamentals
- Track variety with colorful environments
- Lackluster modes and progression
- Stark menu with missing features
- Overcomplicated and unrewarding mechanics