(3DS eShop)

AiRace Xeno (3DS eShop)

Game Review

AiRace Xeno Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jake Shapiro

Kicking it into Xenogear

The fourth entry in Warsaw studio QubicGames' downloadable AiRace series, AiRace Xeno is a natural progression of last year's AiRace Speed on the 3DS eShop – race three different futuristic aircraft at face-melting speeds through nine tough obstacle-filled tracks and try to beat your high score. It's a stripped-down racing experience; there are no opposing racers, no combat, no extra modes, and no way to win or lose, so AiRace is really just a time-attack game... a beautiful, fluid time-attack game.

AiRace is perfect for short sessions on the train or bus: races are fairly short, and the controls are easy to pick up and play (with support for both button-based and touch-based controls). At such blistering speeds you'll find yourself crashing your vehicle fairly often, but a collision simply hits you with a time penalty and sets you back to the last checkpoint on the track with unlimited lives, never breaking the gameplay flow. The 3D graphics and menus are luscious, taking full advantage of the 3DS' stereoscopic abilities; sometimes the stereoscopic 3D can be a bit too much, as the bright colours and blinding speed can make some players feel a bit nauseous — that's what the slider's for, though. Racing games live and die by their course selection, and while AiRace Xeno won't give you anything to write home about, its alien track designs are competent enough to keep you coming back for more.

AiRace Xeno packs a loud, thumping electronic soundtrack that verges on dubstep – not necessarily our favourite genre, but it perfectly suits the gameplay here. Of course, any racing game like this will bring to mind F-Zero, and AiRace certainly matches its speed; the difference is the stripped-down approach, which makes the experience feel more shallow but allows the developer to focus on nailing the primary racing mechanic, rather than fumbling with sloppy opponent AI or under-funded multiplayer modes. Considering the fact we haven't seen a new F-Zero title in a decade, AiRace will have to satiate our futuristic racing appetites on 3DS for now.

Replayability in AiRace comes simply from beating the high scores of yourself and your friends (there's no multiplayer but Xeno can keep track of your friends' lap times online), and earning the in-game Achievements. Later levels can't be unlocked until you finish previous tracks in under a certain time, which can be frustrating for newbies who want more variety, but keeps the game feeling fresh with more to unlock. There are no gimmicks to be found here: it's pure racing, with no power-ups or arbitrary stats to keep track of. There are some irksome load times and slowdown in the menus, but once you get into the actual gameplay it plays as smooth as a Kenny G melody.

Conclusion

AiRace Xeno doesn't do anything we haven't seen before, but it's a finely-crafted time-attack racer that's well worth the low price for fans of sci-fi racing, with luscious visuals and a bumpin' soundtrack. The list of modes and features is disappointingly short, but AiRace knows exactly what it wants to be and nails the core gameplay. QubicGames has certainly honed its craft over the course of the AiRace series, on 3DS in particular; it'd be interesting to see what the developer could do with a step up to Wii U, a console lacking in the sci-fi racing department.

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User Comments (16)

Ralek85

#1

Ralek85 said:

Considering how impressive wipe out performs on the VIta, this seems really more of band-aid for 3DS-only folks

shigulicious

#2

shigulicious said:

"a console lacking in the sci-fi racing department". I'm convinced that we are never getting F-Zero on the WiiU. Jake, you just opened a healing wound :(

WYLD-WOO

#5

WYLD-WOO said:

@Ralek85 - Wipeout for the vita had some nice polish but that was about it. Apart from a few courses, that game was slow, had poor clunky controls and the gameplay was no existant. This is different as the AiRace provides intuitive racing with touch tight controls. Unlike wipeout, I can can achually see in front of me. This game requires skill to master and offers a real sense of achievement when you get a gold on each course. Wipeout 2048 gameplay wise in not even is the same league as AirRace. That's without the cost comparasion of the two taken into consideration.

eaglebob345

#7

eaglebob345 said:

@Natsu9k I still don't get what they meant by that. Even if it duplicates a frame (which can't be seen by the human eye) it is still 60 fps, at least that's how I understand it. F-Zero would work fine, but Nintendo seems like its lost faith in games like Star Fox and F-Zero after the GameCube. However, since Starfox is coming back, I think F-Zero has a fighting chance.

eaglebob345

#8

eaglebob345 said:

@Natsu9k Also, it all depends on how the unwashed masses respond to Star Fox, imo. If people b***h and moan about those older IP's then don't buy them, Nintendo is less likely to make those games. They aren't Activision or EA. They don't annualize everything. They want to make games that are a cut above everyone elses that sell. They've got the former, but the latter is a little tricky to execute because of the hate people pile on top of them.

Giygas_95

#9

Giygas_95 said:

I got this and Speed together, and I must say they're quite fun. I wish this one didn't have half as much content as Speed though. I hope they do one on Wii U!

World

#10

World said:

"once you get into the actual gameplay it plays as smooth as a Kenny G melody"

Bahaha, I'd buy this review instead of the game if I could!

@eaglebob345 Well StarFox just isn't a trusted brand like Mario, but I think the the thing with F-Zero is that it isn't really that accessible at all. Nintendo does make the occasional niche game, but F-Zero looks alien and plays ferociously. Unlike Animals Shooting a Bit in Space, there is absolutely nothing there for people who aren't already converts.

Maybe everyone would hate it, but I don't see why they don't just make F-Zero their resident sandbox franchise. Make it about Falcon, I don't know, trying to clear his name by racing or whatever people in sandbox games do. People like Captain Falcon, right? :P

Kilroy

#11

Kilroy said:

While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the AiRace titles, this one is easily the most disappointing. Comparing it to Speed, Xeno is incredibly easy. Yes, the Gold requirements are tighter, but the courses are easier to navigate, which makes holding down the Nitro button the whole time not as much of a thrill (and thus, you always fly fast enough to obtain Gold).

BulbasaurusRex

#14

BulbasaurusRex said:

I don't really care for a simple time-attack game, and the demo of the last Ai Race game didn't impress me much. They really need to add some content before I'll buy one of these games.

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