Ignite is a great playing, good looking budget arcade-style racing game with a few varieties of what is essentially seven tracks. First off, the game plays great, like other racers in the genre with keyboard or 360 controller support. There’s a real sense of speed when you get moving and you’ll feel it even more when you ignite the nitro boost!
That’s what makes this game, the nitro boosts. Each of the fifteen cars may have stats for handling, top speed, and acceleration, but thanks to the nitro boosts a lesser car can still overtake better cars. You can use the boost if you have a score of over 1,000 and to earn the score, you’ll need to perform drifts, drafts and slam into construction barricades. Yes indeed, rather than going between them, it takes more skill to hit them. You run right through them and they bounce away rather than breaking, so the drivers behind you can hit the objects as they scatter. After a few seconds they respawn into place.
The more in a row you hit, the higher your score. Its the same for drifting and drafting, the longer you do it without stopping, the higher your sore. If you hit a wall, your score gets reduced.
Points build up quickly and why they chose to call it “score” and instead of boost I will never know, but think of having a use for a score. There is a second use for that score though. At the end of the race, everyone’s score shaves time off their finish, so you can see a fifth place racer still take first place, but it doesn’t happen often.
This dynamic and how well the game plays really make the game fun. The computer manages to keep up with you either from skilled driving or rubber banding. It all adds to the challenge and fun, in fact I’d say the computer gets better on the last lap.
If you’re the type of person that prefers braking in your racing games, this isn’t it. A lot of the time, you only need to let go of the accelerator and let your car swing around. I didn’t consider that a bad thing, especially for an arcade style racer. Think of it more as an easy to pick up and play kind of game.
There is a multiplayer component, but its been dead for years. Instead, you’ll need to rely on the single player campaign and solo playing “free play” that lets you setup your own events.
The campaign consists of seven areas that has its own series of events which slightly alters the main course by opening up new roads. Even with new roads opened up between events, it all still feels like you’re racing on the same seven tracks over and over again. There is an eighth track for practice to teach you the game’s mechanics, but that is completely optional.
There are three types of events, the typical races against four other cars and knockout which eliminates the racer in last place after each lap. The last mode is “run out” which makes use of the game’s boost mechanic by starting all drivers with a score of 9,999 that replenishes back to 9,999 with each lap. The only problem is when you run out of score, you’re out of the race. Its interesting and does diversify a game that badly needs it.
The game is set in a fictional city with seven realistic locales, but its sad these areas are all made up of grey asphalt, cement walls and dull buildings. I wish that there was a park to drive through or more than one tunnel in the entire game.
Even so gray, the graphics are still beautiful and they do a lot with only 1 GB of file space, but I’d just rather be racing in something more exotic than an industrial port, next to an airport, on a skyway or just on a typical four lane street. The are gorgeous skies, hot air balloons floating, and fog effects, but that just doesn’t make up for the areas themselves. There’s no weather or nighttime races, even the fog lets you see far into the distance with no obstruction.
Each event will unlock new cars or new events. There are three types of cars, muscle, street and racecar. The muscle cars have better top speed, but the street racers have better handling. As for the racecars, they’re overpowered to a point that you no longer need nitro to win a race, but you only unlock them later in the game.
Because the race cars are so overpowered, the last hour of the four hour game was spent with me just scoring first place in newly unlocked races marked “hard.” I still messed up with them, hit a few walls, spun out here and there, but it was never enough to be overtaken, even if the pack did catch up with me.
There are five cars for each type and each has their own stats, but more interesting than that are the skins. These skins don’t just change the look, but they entice you to play specific ways by giving bonuses. Things like 10% slipstream bonus, 30% fast car bonus, 50% drifting bonus and even 50% decline in score during “run out” races and 25% more score after a race. To unlock new skins, win races with that car, although one car had something like 30% speed bonus for one skin and 50% speed bonus for a later skin. Hmmm which one do I chose?
The game has a mini map to compensate just how gray the game is. Are those cement barricades blocking the road or is that still road? There are no arrows indicating to turn left or right, so I had to resort to looking at the mini map, but the only problem is the game is so fast that looking away could lead you to crash. Even with crashes and the rare hairpin turns, there is a respawn button. At some point I started to realize going into a hairpin turn it was quicker to hit the respawn button than slow down and make a wide turn.
The game plays smooth, outside of a few hiccups and split second freezes in the later part of the game, but that could have been my computer doing something else. The real noticeable issue was how harsh the 360 controller vibrations are when hitting the nitro. This game has the loudest rumble effect I’ve ever had. Any of the cars motors were more subtle than the one in the controller. If the controller’s motor burns out, I know what game did it!
Is it worth $10? Yes and I’m cheap. It still feels like a good to great budget title and I’d like to see what they can do for a sequel or a larger budget. There’s nothing wrong with the racing, its just the lack of variety in the environments that will ultimately hold it back.