Seemingly coming from nowhere as an Xbox 360 Kinect exclusive release, Freefall Racers will soon be with gamers across the world via the Xbox Games Store. After handling the likes of Metro: Last Light, Dead Island: Riptide and Saints Row IV it may seem like a considerable change of pace for Deep Silver to be publishing a family orientated racing title, but this just reassures the publisher’s commitment to a wide portfolio. There’s a reason that they’ve become a significant publishing force in recent years, after all.
Sadly, Freefall Racers isn’t likely to be one of those videogames that made an impact at Deep Silver’s dramatic turning point, instead fading away to an also-ran. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with Freefall Racers – this is a reasonably enjoyable family friendly racing videogame – like many of its peers its greatest weakness is one at the hand of Kinect rather than the software itself. Many people will instantly dismiss Freefall Racers as a disposable motion-control cash-in that’ll be flawed from start to finish, when actually Deep Silver is presenting a videogame that was design for Kinect from the ground-up, technical limitations and all.
As the name suggests, most of Freefall Racers’ gameplay involves the player hurtling to the ground in a competition to reach the bottom of the course first. Up to two players can join in the action at any time (local play only as Freefall Racers doesn’t offer online competition) standing side-by-side as they steer and control the rate of their decent with their arms. As Freefall Racers is concerned with falling rather than maintaining a steady pitch players will quickly learn the basics of control, and those who choose to become more experienced will soon plumb the depths of boost dives and fast cornering.
Freefall Racers features circuit racing, single races and time trial events, and multiplayer can be played competitively or as a team event. All but time trial features power-ups on the track, offering either a weapon or boost to the player. Many of the weapons feel a little overpowered and often the victim will receive no indication of how and why you are being affected by them. Furthermore they are very small, and collecting them often requires knowledge of the tracks rather than flight skill.
Freefall Racers is a good looking videogame on the whole, but is a little rough around the edges. The basic animation outside of the races and the lack of all but the most basic grunts make the characters fairly one dimensional, despite their individual style and pleasing choice of design given the nature of the videogame. The tracks are typical well signposted and give a good general sense of speed, and the soundtrack – while never offering anything truly exceptional – is a well placed compliment to the family friendly exterior of the videogame.
While Freefall Racers is never going to satisfy the Kinect detractors, it manages to prove that there are worthwhile entertainment experiences to be had with the limited technology. It’s a good, solid family title that can provide several hours of fun at an attractive price point, and for given that this is exactly what Kinect was designed to do it would be hard to say fairer than that. It doesn’t always have to be zombies, gangsters or the apocalypse then, but only if you don’t expect to receive too much in the way of recognition from your core gaming audience.