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Redline Racing - A new Mac racing game! Pick of the Week
The macosxhints Rating:

[Score: 9 out of 10]
[This is the Pick of the Week for the week of September 25th]

As a Mac user who enjoys auto racing games, the population of available titles isn't that large. Over the years, there have been some good ones and some bad ones, but few seem to have endured on my "play regulary" list. One exception is Nascar Racing 2003, which I still play with some regularity -- too bad the odds of a future version are nearly nil. Though there are many things I like about NR2003 is that it runs quite well at 1920x1200 on my Dual 2.0GHz G5. I'm more than willing to give up a bit of eye candy to have such a sharp, large field of view.

Enter Ambrosia's Redline Racing. Released last week, it took me all of, oh, two minutes to get hooked on it. Offering many modes, including racing, time trials, online play, and challenge mode, Redline Racing has something for nearly any fan of racing games. Though I've got many hours of gameplay in the books now, I've barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer. Why? Because I've been spending all my game time on the ridiculously addictive Challenges section. There are 12 challenges in all, over varying types of track and in different vehicles. The idea is simply to complete the challenge in the shortest-possible time.

The challenges range from the seemingly simple (accelerate-and-stop as quickly as possible) to the frustratingly tricky (I've ground-looped the Downhill Corners challenge more times than I care to count). Since the challenges are all short in duration, it's easy to pop into the game and run through a couple trials with only a few minutes spent. For me, the fun lies in trying to constantly improve on my best time, figuring out the secrets to each vehicle's handling. For each challenge, you earn gold, silver, or bronze medals depending on your results. When you earn gold in certain challenges, you unlock additional vehicles. Complete all 12 challenges with gold medals, and you earn an extra-special vehicle -- one with which you can post some truly impressive lap times :)

Beyond the challenges, there's the regular racing, of course. There are six tracks and thirteen standard vehicles to pick from, and you can even drive in the rain, if you wish. Time trialing in some of the more powerful cars is quite fun -- nothing like sliding around a track, steering with the throttle! It may not lead to the quickest lap times, but it's sure a hoot.

One of the nice features in Redline Racing is the constantly-updated Redline Hall of Fame. Set a record on a challenge or track, and your name, lap time, car, and date are recorded for all to see. So not only are you competing against the game, but against the global population of players to set track and challenge time records. At the moment, my name still remains atop some of the challenge sections, but I would expect that situation won't last -- I'm about 20 years too senior to be doing this all that well :).

If you're coming to the Mac from Xbox or PC gaming, the graphics in Redline Racing probably won't blow you away -- the polygon count won't set any records, and the backgrounds are simplistic. However, it's these relatively simple graphics that let me run Redline Racing in full resolution, just as with Nascar Racing. I just find the experience so much more immersive with sharp graphics on a large screen; that's why I'm willing to give up some of the details.

The physics seem decent to me -- keep in mind my only read-world basis of comparison is a few track sessions in various vehicles (and marginally-legal fun in snow-covered parking lots during my youth in Colorado). Turn into a corner in Redline and punch the throttle on a high-powered vehicle, and the back end steps out -- perhaps all the way out if you're overly aggressive with the throttle. Rain and snow covered roads are slick, and the four wheel drive vehicles handle differently than do the front- and rear-wheel-drive cars. Burnouts, skid marks through corners, and cars that are capable of flipping complete the fun.

Small touches abound, from the very speedy and easy to use interface to the click-to-change car color selector ... to an image of a radio that appears complete with artist and song info when iTunes changes tracks. You'll want a steering wheel and pedals to get the most out of the game. It seems to work just fine with my ancient Logitech Wingman Formula Force, though the force feedback drops out at times (I believe this is an issue with my wheel, not the game -- it may be time to retire this particular input device).

What's not to like? I don't believe there's any damage modeling, so you can just go ahead and bounce that $250,000 Diablo off the guard rail at 180mph and keep right on driving. Some of the cars (hello, Maserati!) seem just a tad too tail-happy to be believable -- touch the throttle at the wrong spot, and you're facing backwards. Finally, for me at least, the biggest drawback is the lack of a true in-car view. This is something I really appreciate in a racing game (and it's included in Nascar 2003), and which makes the whole experience that much more immersive. I dislike the "flying with speedo/RPM overlays" view, so I've settled on the chase view as my favorite ... but it's nowhere near as much fun as sitting inside a modeled vehicle with working gauges. Oh well...

Overall, I'm quite happy with Redline Racing, and it's the best $25 I've spent on a simulation game in quite a while. It may not meet the needs of hardcore gamers moving from other more racing-happy platforms, but I think it's a fine effort.
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  • Currently 2.08 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (13 votes cast)
 
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Redline Racing - A new Mac racing game!
Authored by: kkL on Sep 25, '06 01:57:36PM

9/10? c'mon, this game looks like need for speed 1.



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Redline Racing - A new Mac racing game!
Authored by: robg on Sep 25, '06 03:45:14PM

Not if you're a Mac gamer it doesn't. As noted in my writeup, I don't really care all that much for the visuals -- if they're acceptable to make me forget about them, then that's good enough for me. These easily pass that test.

-rob.



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Redline Racing - A new Mac racing game!
Authored by: mm2270 on Sep 25, '06 04:12:10PM

The visuals don't bother me with this game. They aren't great, but they work for what it is. As a result, this game runs very well on my iMac G5, as opposed to say, Total Immersion Racing and Ford Racing from Feral. I actually created a special "gaming" account on my Mac with no startup items or extra stuff loaded in the background just to give my iMac every advantage it could to run these games acceptably. So here, Redlne is a clear winner.

But one thing that may stop me from plunking down the money for this is that there are only 6 tracks. That seems kind of weak honestly. I just don't know how much varierty that allows for. And from what I can see in the demo, the tracks aren't very interesting. So I'm concerned boredom will strike very quickly when playing this.
I may be worrying unnecessarily, but it seems to me they could have done more with this, added some extra stuff to keep it fresh for a longer period of time. The Challenges mentioned here aren't very innovative either. These kinds of things have been in racing games for ages, so no new ground there.

In the end, it's fine for what it is, and is cheaper than most big commercial games out there, racing or otherwise, that are typically in the $50 range. Physics also seem better than most in the genre, outside of console games like Gran Turismo.

To me, it's a 7/10



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Redline Racing - A new Mac racing game!
Authored by: NewPerfection on Sep 25, '06 04:53:24PM

That's exactly what the plug-ins folder is for. Unlimited add-ons for tracks, cars, etc. It'll just take a bit for them to start showing up, as people make them. If you've ever played anything else by Ambrosia SW, such as the Escape Velocity series, then you know how that goes. I don't know how completely those will be able to change the game, but in Escape Velocity plug-ins could essentially make it an entirely new game.



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Redline Racing - A new Mac racing game!
Authored by: sjmills on Sep 25, '06 06:11:42PM
Total Immersion Racing is by far my favorite racing simulator. Incredible cars, great tracks, physics that don't suck. Ford Racing II is fun for an arcade style game. I won't even consider NASCAR games because NASCAR sucks and it's incredibly boring. But I'll take a look at this one.

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Average
Authored by: bedouin on Sep 25, '06 07:00:50PM
Getting my gamepad up and running with this game wasn't as straight-forward as it could have been, but even afterwards I wasn't throughly impressed. I congratulate them for the low price tag and always like supporting independent Mac developers, but I think I'm more happy with Need for Speed Underground on my Gamecube.

If you're looking for a cool, cheap, independent shooter though I thought Jets 'N Guns was excellent:

http://jng.rakeingrass.com/

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Games
Authored by: wackazong on Sep 26, '06 12:32:32AM

Hi!

Just because you brought up the game topic: I am still looking for a good 3D space shooter for OS X (You sit in some sort of space fighter plane, and shoot enemy targets). Think Wing Commander on PC. Is there anything comparable for the OS X platform?



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runs on low spec machines !
Authored by: mag on Sep 26, '06 08:43:59AM

I also discovered this game recently, and honestly I didn't expect it to run on my 3+ years old TiBook 867MHz. But surprisingly, even turning the resolution at maximum (1280x854), it still runs smoothly (a bit shaky here and there, but nothing unbearable - and no shakiness at lower resolutions). So if you have a low spec machine (by today's standards), you can still give it a try.



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It's Brag Timeâ„¢
Authored by: C14ru5 on Sep 26, '06 11:56:28AM

Is it merely a coincidence that this is pick of the week, with you being record holder on several challenges?

No need to answer, you gotta preserve your character, right? ;-)

I'll keep on pushing, but first I'll have to sweep the dust off my Logitech MOMO Racing Wheel in my cellar… It's nearly impossible to get a decent start with digital controls.



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Redline Racing - A new Mac racing game!
Authored by: Panjandrum on Sep 26, '06 07:34:57PM

Well, I hate to say this about an Ambrosia game. I know they are a small outfit, but really this is pretty awful.

For those wanting a real racing SIM at a reasonable price, do the following:

1) Get a used PS2 if you don't have one
2) Buy Gran Turismo 4
3) Buy the Logitech Driving Force Pro
4) If you have a component HIGH Def system, like say a nice Digital Light Projector, get the PS2 component cable and make sure to set GT4 to use 1080i mode every time you play it (the game has a ton of bugs, one of which is that it does not remember your video settings)

That's it. For what is now a reasonable price, you can have the racing sim which is used to warm up some drivers before actual races.

Frankly, GT4 blows me away like no other game ever has, amazing realism. But it makes Redline look like, um, pong...

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David Butler
http://www.macmaven.net/
http://www.dhbutlerphotography.com/



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