Vertigo Review

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Vertigo Publisher: Playlogic
Developer: Icon

Platform: Wii and PC
Reviewed on Wii

In the future, racing is not something done in conventional airships nor in wheeled, terrestrial vehicles. Real racing involves "Xorbs" – customized racing spheres – cruising through tracks constructed on nine worlds involving high speeds and death-defying jumps. Speed alone, however, isn't enough to make it through Xorb Racing Corporation's top courses. They also require practice and puzzle-solving prowess to maneuver fast enough to outpace all competitors.

Kyle Ackerman

VertigoVertigo for the Wii is a game with tremendous potential, but doesn't quite deliver on its promised play. Vertigo is another entry in the category of maze-maneuvering games, where the player tilts the Wii Remote to maneuver a ball through a maze. Where Vertigo differs from other such games is that instead of a ball, players control a "Xorb" and race that Xorb through futuristic landscapes at incredibly high speeds.

VertigoI haven't played the PC version of Vertigo – only the Wii version. But having played the Wii version of Vertigo, it feels like an imperfect port of the PC version. I get the sense that with higher screen resolutions, a more powerful graphics processor and PC controls, Vertigo could be incredibly entertaining. Unfortunately, Vertigo wasn't sufficiently adapted to Wii play. My confusion started the moment I turned on the game. On the Wii, we are conditioned to point the Wii Remote at the screen to select menu options, but the game requires navigating overly tiny menu options with the D-pad. The graphics are full of massively jagged lines and the rich environments are oddly superficially rendered. It feels like the environments were simply downscaled from the PC version, rather than being tailored to the Wii's capabilities.

VertigoOnce I got past the feeling that Vertigo is a mediocre PC port, I got to enjoy the real racing action of Vertigo. As I learned the layout of courses, my Xorb was racing around the screen at nearly 100 kilometers per hour. The game can be played by tilting the Wii Remote, or (even better) by tilting your own body on the Wii Balance Board. By simply tilting, I sent my Xorb zooming down ramps, leaping into chutes and zipping around sharp turns. That's also how I discovered Vertigo's final problem. Because the camera automatically shifts to follow the Xorb, I was often tilting in one direction, when the camera would shift, and that would send my Xorb plummeting off the course to its doom. Learning the camera changes in the course became more important than actually remembering the layout of the 54 courses in the game.

The race courses are cleverly designed, and full of a variety of obstacles and interesting strategies that can speed completion. Successful play (completing levels under certain time thresholds) earns upgrade points that can be used to dramatically improve the Xorb, granting it faster acceleration, better traction or even customizing its appearance. The difference customization makes can be enormous, and provides an incentive for replaying the early courses to achieve even more impressive times. The various worlds provide very different looking backgrounds, and the courses become truly devilish to navigate late in the game.

VertigoVertigo sports the requisite variety of modes, ranging from arcade play to career mode (in which upgrading your Xorb is all the rage) to various mini-games (including a basic bowling game). They are all entertaining, subject to the earlier caveats.

Right down to the mini-games, Vertigo feels a lot like a high-tech, less cute, Super Monkey Ball on speed. It's only unfortunate that a bit more Wii-specific polish could have made Vertigo an exceptional, family-friendly title. As it is, it's more like a mangy pet – undeniably lovable, but it requires some time to get past its obvious shortcomings.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 30, 2009 11:23 PM.

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