Battle it out with friends in a futuristic neon environment in this excellent combat racing game
- Fast-paced, strategic racing gameplay
- Highly addictive with excellent replay value
- Easy to learn game mechanics and controls, but tough to master
- Customize your race by choosing your track and your racer
- 24 tracks and 12 racers to choose from
- Create and edit your own tracks with the track editor
- Master using a myriad of weapons including mines, shields, and cannons to decimate opponents
- Excellent techno-style soundtrack
- Racer is difficult to control at times
- High on-screen activity can result in frame rate drops
Super Laser Racer is a free arcade-style combat racing game for PC, developed by New Star Games, in which you pilot and race a variety of racing ships in a neon top-down racing environment. The game's features and mechanics bear a resemblance to F-Zero and Wipeout, though markedly more simplistic in its approach.
A Diverse Racing Experience
In terms of background narrative, the game does not offer a lot. Like many arcade games of this type, however, the emphasis is not on its narrative, but on its exciting, dynamic, and engaging gameplay and its impressive visuals. At first glance the game appears to be a 2D version of Wipeout, with a grid-based racing course, but differs in its neon looks, its minimalist representation of ships, its techno-style dance tracks that accompany races and in its top-down view of the course(s). In any case, the game is definitely beautiful to look at. Colors and course borders and bright, sharp, and well-defined. Graphics, while not well developed, perfectly suit the futuristic feel of the game.
Getting Ready to Race
What immediately impresses about this title is the sheer amount of choices you are given from the outset. To get started, the game will briefly show you a legend of symbols that you will come across as you play: current weapon (a box with a circle within it), damage, weapon boxes (crossed out boxes), turbo boost (mounted yellow arrow heads) and shield recharge (a green zigzagging line). These represent the extent of symbols you will find on a given course.
Next, the game offers you a selection of different modes: Finish Race, Eliminator, and Survivor, each manipulating specific mechanics to increase difficulty. Finish Race requires that you finish first, Eliminator requires that you take no damage and will eliminate the player in last place; and Survivor disables recharging abilities, testing a player's stamina and survival skills. Each mode has three difficulty levels: Easy, Normal and Hard. The game is available in both single player and multiplayer, but for the best overall experience I would definitely recommend the online multiplayer.
Before beginning a race, you must choose a track and a ship to pilot. Tracks appear to be quite similar in difficulty, 24 in total, offering all kinds of loops, sharp turns, and on-course advantages such as speed boosters. The trick, however, is in matching the course to the ship. A ship is chosen according to four stats: acceleration, indicating rate of increase in speed; speed, indicating maximum movement speed; steer, indicating how easily the machine handles sharp turns and sudden changes in momentum; and shield, indicating the level of default protection provided by a ship. Stats are displayed in a scale ranging from 1 to 5. For courses with sharper turns, a ship with an acceleration of '5' should probably be avoided, favoring instead a high speed stat.
The Thrill of the Race
In any case, once you have chosen your game mode, ship and the course, the race will begin. A zoomed out view of the course will be provided before zooming in and commencing the race. Controls in the game are very simple, limited to maneuvering your ship and firing weapons when you acquire them. Throughout the race, a robotic female voice will announce key moments including race countdowns, power-up acquisition and laps.
Races are typically between three to five laps. Displayed on the right is additional information concerning the race including ship positions and lap times. Above is your damage taken. Racing around the course is pretty easy to handle. The game offers endless amounts of entertainment here. Initially, it's not that easy. Failing to stay within the lines of a course will result in a loss of speed and consequently one's position. Missing speed boosters along the way will also put you at a disadvantage.
Weapons and Power-Ups
Since we can accept that there is no such thing as a 'standard' racer, this game is no different. While racing against your opponents, you can easily get an edge over them by picking up an assortment of weapon boxes scattered throughout a course. Weapons come in several varieties, including Mines, Plasma, Shields, Turbo boosters and Cannons, offering a range of defensive boosts and projectile weaponry for potential mayhem during a race. Appropriately aimed strikes can quickly and easily turn the tides in a tough race. Relentlessly attacking your enemies from behind, bashing them with your shield, or dropping mines in their path can result in the destruction of their machine. In this case, the machine is permanently eliminated from a race.
After completing several races, the game still never seems boring and has excellent replay value. Increase difficulty levels, change vehicles, or go for new lap records to keep things interesting. As a racer it's everything you could want: fun, easy to learn, competitive, and engaging. The track editor even allows you to create and use your own tracks.
Super Laser Racer is a fantastic racing game by all accounts. It's easy to learn, has a variety of courses, ships and difficulty levels to choose from, and has enough dynamic in-race features like speed boosters and power-ups to keep things fun but competitive. Lap times also ensure that you're constantly in competition with yourself for the best records. The neon look of the game is amazing, giving the whole thing a rather futuristic feel. Symbols for boosters, weapon boxes, and shield rechargers are all clearly visible in this backdrop. The online multiplayer is a particularly worthwhile feature, offering endless hours of entertainment battling it out against your friends. If you're a racing fan and want something fresh and unique, I'd give this one a download.