NeoShifters Aeronauts

There are only three things we know for certain about the future: cyborgs will look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the apes will rise and enslave mankind, and everything will hover.

NeoShifters Aeronauts focuses on the marginally less ridiculous of these three predictions, presenting a dystopian future in which brightly coloured anti-gravity robots fly around luminous green racetracks.

If you were thinking that this sounds a bit like some kind of Zone of the Enders / WipEout mash-up, then you wouldn't be far from the mark. Indeed, though it's presented from a top-down perspective, the game has much in common with Studio Liverpool’s violent sci-fi racer.

So it should please Java devotees to know that NeoShifters Aeronauts, despite never conveying the speed or jeopardy of its thematic inspiration, is a thoroughly engaging zero-G diversion.

Floatation device

The first order of business upon firing up the game's surprisingly slick menu is to conquer the Tournament mode. This mode will test your racing and combat prowess over 15 increasingly challenging courses.

There are three aeronauts to choose from, each with its own particular strengths and weaknesses across a trio of categories: Weapon, Fuel, and Armour. Whichever bot you pick, you'll find yourself competing against the remaining two in a brutal battle for first place.

You see, only a podium-topping finish will unlock the next race - there are no prizes for second place here. You'll need to learn the course layouts and hit the speed-boosting pads if you want to see the checkered flag first.

When speed alone is not enough, you can always break out the big guns - literally. Power-ups appear on the hazard-strewn courses, offering alternatives to the standard issue laser cannon, such as a beam that drains the power of nearby racers.

Flying without wings

Controls are responsive, and there's a smoothness to the steering that gives a fitting sense of weightlessness.

Your robot will never come close to breaking any land-speed records, even on the hardest difficulty setting, but trying to get a perfect run while blasting your opponents for bonus points is a satisfying endeavour in itself.

Unfortunately, the tracks never really become complex enough to truly trouble your short-term memory, meaning real challenge comes only when you crank the difficulty and the other two bots pick up the pace.

Still, despite of these issues, Neoshifters Aeronauts does more than enough to rise above the competition and earn it a place on the winner's block.

NeoShifters Aeronauts

Well-presented and finely-tuned, NeoShifters Aeronauts's considered controls and tactical livery make this a race worth entering
James Gilmour
James Gilmour
James pivoted to video so hard that he permanently damaged his spine, which now doubles as a Cronenbergian mic stand. If the pictures are moving, he's the one to blame.