Iridium Runners Review

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Publisher: SouthPeak Games
Developer: Playstos Entertainment

Platform: PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

Around the year 2010, a massive glitch caused the loss of all computer data, paving the way for a comically dystopian corporate future. At the same time, researchers managed a marvelous breakthrough, discovering how to derive nearly unlimited energy from Iridium. With plentiful energy and corporate sponsorship, new sports emerged. By 2050, most team sports have vanished, and a futuristic footrace now dominates the athletic scene: the Iridium Championship.

Kyle Ackerman

It sounds like something Dr. Science (He has a Masters Degree... in Science!) would say: "In the future, people will run faster than the speed of sound, thanks to the wonder of iridium!" In truth, iridium is an exceptionally rare metal, and a particularly unlikely source for unlimited energy. But heck, let's not focus on the silly science, let's think about the goofy game.

Iridium Runners is a conventional kart racing game, it just hits the track without the karts. There are power-ups that shrink enemies, hurl missiles or throw up energy barriers. You get to choose from twenty racers (only eight start unlocked), each with different statistics for speed, acceleration, stamina and agility. Each racer can also choose one of eight pods to hover over that racer's shoulder and take care of all the power-ups available on the track. Different pods make it more or less likely to recover attack, defense or speed related power-ups. With all the choices, players who put in the work to become really skilled at Iridium Runners will find a runner to fit their play style.

Unlike may kart racing games, you have to keep topping off your fuel. In the Iridium Championship, iridium crystals are scattered around the track. Racers have an Iridium Energy bar that needs to stay topped up to keep pace with the other runners. Fill the bar beyond the necessary level and you can use an "Iridium Boost" that will send your runner hurtling to the front of the pack. The Iridium Boost is critical to winning (along with the many power-ups and spots on the track that grant a rapid speed boost. But don't let your supply of iridium falter or you'll fall well behind the pack. In this way, Iridium Runners involves a lot more than the typical racing game's need to learn the curves of each track: you also need to learn the crystal locations so that you can pick up a constant stream of iridium crystals.

Because Iridium Runners is a footrace, the handling is a little different from conventional kart racers – a little jerkier. And to use the Iridium Boost, you have to hammer the "X" button. Because I had to spend much of the game doing so, it got both irritating and exhausting. There are also gaps and obstacles in the track that require you to remember to jump, so there's a lot of alternating between the Iridium Boost and jumping. For kicks (or elbows, in this case), you can also jostle other runners to throw them off their stride. And yes, there are multiplayer races, so you can elbow your friends in split-screen races, as well.

The main problem with Iridium Runners is the process by which new content is unlocked. There is a lot to unlock, including 30 tracks and other play modes. But everything has to be unlocked sequentially. Particularly in the early game, if you get stuck on a particular single race or cup series, you have to keep retrying until you come in first, to unlock the next thing. The game would be a lot more fun for casual players (and anyone still restricted to a PlayStation 2 is likely to be a casual player) if the unlocking process were more forgiving.

Iridium Runners is available for $15, so it's even less of an investment than many other PlayStation 2 games. At that price, it's certainly an adequate racer, but it's not going to rock your world. Not even your futuristic dystopian world.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on March 21, 2008 11:31 AM.

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