Victory: The Age of Racing – Preview
The free-to-play model is rapidly becoming a favourite of development companies for getting games out there and making them available to a wide audience in an accessible manner. Of course, the problem with making games is that they cost money, and the problem with free-to-play games is that developers will often attempt to make money back by selling items with a real monetary value that players who don’t want to spend that kind of cash cannot get. However, Vae Victus are on the scene with their MMO racing title, Victory: The Age of Racing, to change all that.
The story behind Victory is that in the near future, the government has effectively outlawed cars and replaced all modes of transport with a pod system controlled by robots and machines. But racers across the world have grown tired of this and formed the Racing Authority, who have found little pockets of the world where they cannot be seen racing, and started recycling metal and old car parts and creating their own cars in order to race. This goes a long way to explaining the slightly bizarre design behind the cars – the early cars in the game hugely resemble old style F1 cars, for example.
One big thing in Victory is the car building aspect. Vae Victus don’t give the player any starting cars, and instead you must build your own from scratch. Doing so is easy – you have three sections, the front, middle and rear, and choose from a selection of pre-designed blocks to compile your car. Then you can paint it, add decals and stickers, and generally customise it to your heart’s content. After that, you can buy new engines and tyres to increase your cars attributes, and these can also be coloured in some cases. The customisation aspect was actually very deep, and it looks like you could spend quite a while messing around with it creating your own exciting looking cars.
Your car’s attributes can also be increased with performance points, which you earn every time you level up. These points can be placed on six different categories, including power, grip and steering, and help boost your car beyond its regular capabilities. The points placed onto your car give you your performance index, and also help with matchmaking, as the system looks at the character level, the performance index and your race record to determine who to match you up against.
Once you’ve got your car sorted out, you can get into the races. There’s a fair number of options available here too: you can do a standard quick race, a handicap race that cripples players who consistently win to help out racers with worse cars, a zero performance race, which resets everyone’s performance index to zero for that race, and a random performance race, which randomly generates a performance index and assigns it to all racers, meaning you could end up with some super quick cars with no grip and so on. The variety on offer is pretty amazing for a free-to-play game, and is also rather inventive and interesting compared to most other racers.
The races themselves are also fast and fun. Instead of having a lobby system, players simply jump straight into the race, even if it’s still going, and the system launches the next map straight after the race has finished, much in the same way as most modern shooters. While this means that racers joining late into games are highly unlikely to place particularly well, it does mean that the gameplay keeps coming thick and fast, and there’s only enough time to catch your breath before the next race loads and you’re back out racing.
The racing mechanics are very good, with handling feeling wonderfully tight and responsive, although you will need to learn to brake before a corner so as not to slam straight in, thanks to the simulation-esque controls. While I did make friends with the wall early on, within a few minutes I’d got a hang of the controls and won my first two races by almost half a minute. There was some lag, which can sometimes be a killer in racing games, but it never really felt too horrendous, and when I looked at another person’s game one booth over I found that their game was running at 60fps and looking smooth as a baby’s bottom, so it was probably just the server I was racing on.
The only problem I had with Victory – and it’s a big one – is the fact that everything comes at a price. Yes, it is possible to buy everything in game with money earned from races. The system works by having two different currencies, Gears, which are earned in races, and Victory Points, which can be bought by micro-transaction. Each item can be bought with either currency, but the incentive to use real money is clear, as the price in Gears is often ten times the amount in Victory Points. Add to that the fact you make a miniscule amount from each race and almost everything actually needs to be purchased, from garage slots for your cars to each individual decal and sticker and paint choice, and you can tell that while the game is entirely free, Vae Victus are definitely pushing to get your cash. It’s fair enough, but when they start using tactics like damaging your car’s attributes after each race and requiring you to buy boosts to bring them back up, it gets a little annoying.
Still, aside from the grievance about the monetisation, Victory: The Age of Racing is still a very good, interesting and fun game. It provides fresh ideas to the racing genre, has a deep customisation system, and is a great racer with good controls and fun races. And the best part is that Vae Victus are running an open beta that you can join right now and start playing, which, if you’re a fan of racing games, I would recommend you do.
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