STAFF REVIEW of Redout: Lightspeed Edition (Xbox One)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017.
by Kirby Yablonski

Redout: Lightspeed Edition Box art Let’s face it, racing games are a big thing on consoles, but you won’t find a lot of futuristic ones, and when you do, the inevitable comparison to games to two such game will always be made to WipeOut and F-Zero. In many ways I can understand this, as these two franchises have set the bar high for futuristic racing games. With that said, the Xbox One has recently seen a release of a futuristic racer for fans to check out. Developed by 34BigThings, Redout: LightSpeed Edition (referred to simply as Redout in this review) was released earlier this month. Fans looking to get their fix of techno pounding, high speed, eye-candy filled racing will no doubt find that this game meets these criteria; however, there is more to a racing game than just the looks and sound.

As one would expect in a racing game, there is not much story attached to the action. It’s really all about racing on all the tracks, in various modes, while making sure you are the one to come out on top. The premise of Redout is that the year is 2560 and the planet you reside on is kind of in rough shape after mother nature has let forth her wrath upon the planet. Even being in such rough shape though, there is always time for people to enjoy themselves, and one such enjoyment is watching the Solar Redout Racing League. Hey, who doesn’t enjoy a good anti-gravity race now and then right?

You are a nameless pilot within the racing league, and your goal is to climb the ranks as you race though the numerous number of tracks, events, and locations. This is the crux of the Career mode, and what is basically the core gameplay of Redout. Don’t expect any narrative to go along with your fight to be the best, as it’s just about racing in one of 28 ships in any one of the 11 events that are scattered throughout the career mode. Each ship has various attributes that make a difference, so find the one that suits your racing style and you’ll find yourself competing in each event for a gold, silver, or bronze medal, which, when awarded, gives you money and XP.

As you race you can open up power-ups for your ships. There are a total of 12 power-ups, six passive (always activated) and six active (you must manually activate these), each having four levels to upgrade, using your in-game money to buy them. You can only equip one active and one passive power-up at a time, so choose wisely. These power ups range from those that drain your opponent’s energy to use for your own turbo (active), to those that make your hull stronger or keep your ship on the track a bit more with better magnets (passive). Don’t be fooled though, as they won’t give you a huge advantage, but they give you an extra ‘oomph’ when you need it.

There are a total of seven different planets to race on, and the base track on each planet has numerous layouts (from short to long). The events range from simple time trials (racing alone), last man standing, to all out racing against other ships. You’ll even have to race in ‘boss’ races which take the planets various track layouts and links them up into one long track where you race against the ‘boss’ of that area. It’s a neat premise given how the one track is a number of smaller tracks linked through what is best described as teleportation gates from one section to the next.

You definitely won’t be finishing the career mode in one sitting, that is for sure, and what is appreciated about this is that it is not particularly linear, so you can dig into the career mode a bit at a time. You can choose what events that you want to race in, as long as have the class of ship open and your character has those career races open too. So, if you only have time for a race or two, you can pick which ones you want to race, which shouldn't take that long in theory. It’s nice being able to do a particular race(s) that you want (as long as they are open), and in any order, even when you have some time restrictions. This is indeed a well thought out design in the game.

As with any racing game, and particularly one that simulates high speed of an anti-gravity ship, control must be spot and, and this is where Redout hits a small speed bump along the way. The actual control scheme is a dual analog stick set-up. You use the left stick to turn left and right, but what is interesting is the right analog stick is used for strafing left or right (helps with sharp corners), though you can also use the right analog stick to lift the nose of your ship up or down, which is useful to stop, or limit, your ship from grinding the track on loops and certain hills. This control scheme is quite intuitive and you’ll find no issues using it. Where it lacks though, is not in its implementation, but the fact that the game can move so fast, and the tracks have some extremely tough corners to navigate, that you will hit the walls or fall off the side. It’s not because of the control per se, but just the speed and design of some of the tracks themselves where you’ll find yourself having issues that can affect the gameplay.

Another issue that is definitely worth noting here, is that the game difficulty ramps up as soon as you open Class II ships. Now, it would be expected that a racing game get harder as you open the faster and better controlling ships, but man, I won’t lie here, I breezed through the Class I races more often than not, then as soon as I unlocked my Class II ship, it was amazing how fast and how skilled the AI racers became. I was always fighting, and at times struggling, to keep in even the top three. The game is challenging, there is no doubt about that, so be prepared to be on your ‘A-Game’ at all times to secure a gold medal against the AI.

What kind of surprised me with Redout was the multiplayer options. You have the ability to play online with up to 11 other racers and there is also a split screen option. In terms of the latter, when playing in split screen, that are four types of races available (Race, Pure Race, Score & Boss). Split screen runs very smooth and allowed me to race against my son without any issues. Heading online, you’ll find three race types (Race, Pure Race & Boss). I’d love to tell you how the online racing was, but every time I went online I could not find a match, and when searching for any servers with hosted games, there were none. It looks like there is very little to no online community for Redout, which is kind of sad given that it’s not a bad game at all. Gameplay wise, Redout is quite a gold medal contender.

In terms of the visuals, they are very unique as such that they are clean and full of various geometry. There is a wide range of locations to race, from the dusty world of Cairo, the cold landscape of Alaska to lava filled world of ‘Volcano’ (yes, it’s called Volcano) or the space setting of Neptune. Regardless of where you race though, each of the seven worlds offer up a new scenic experience when you open each one, and they are unique from each other; however, given the speed this game goes at you may have trouble enjoying the work that went into the visuals. When I opened up the world known as Vertex, I was surprised. This world is a pixel based world, and I felt like I was racing in the world of Tron, but with 34BigThings' own take on that universe.

Technically Redout is a spectacular game. It runs at a solid framerate and is very, very smooth. I don’t think I ever noticed any hiccups during racing. There is great use of lighting, shadows and many special effects. One such use is when racing in Cairo, as you come across sections of the track that are shrouded in by the dust of a sandstorm. It was pretty impressive entering and exiting these sections of this one particular track. Kudos to 34BigThings for their effort in the visuals, as it won’t go overlooked given the beauty of each track, each world and all the environments you race in.

Finally, as for the sound, I have to again say well done. The music is the highlight here. The techno beats that blare as you race are perfectly matched with the on-screen action. Not once did I find myself wanting to turn off the music. The techno is also nicely mixed, as you’ll find an enjoyable, and varied, selection of it throughout the game, from strictly electronic made tunes to that which is filled with guitar riffs. As for the sound effects, the ships sound eerily quiet as their mag-lifts help propel them across the track, and as you race by certain parts of any track you’ll hear the ‘whoosh’ of the wind when you pass the various trackside scenery. I played Redout using a soundbar I recently reviewed, which has a separate subwoofer, and man, the music and sound effects rocked my home office.

I went into Redout: Lightspeed Edition with very little expectations, and I came out very surprised. The game has solid visuals and great sound, all which really help this game come alive on-screen. The speed that you race at is very fast too, and without any issues such as slowdown, screen tearing or the like. The game’s control is just as good, as the combination of using both analog sticks when steering is very intuitive and useful. Where Redout seems to stutter a bit though is that the speed itself, along with the track design, can cause you some trouble, as hitting the wall on repeated occasions is unavoidable, and the AI ramps up its challenge very quickly, but these issues don’t make it a bad game. Fans of futuristic racing, and fans of racing games as a whole, will find a lot to like about this game, and for the price I think that most will get some great “bang for the buck” out of it. It’s just sad though that the online community seems non-existent.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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