Hybrid cars have been all the rage for quite a while now. From the environmentally aware to the economically conscious, many motorists are taking a keen interest in cars that combine the performance of a traditional petrol motor with the benefits of an electric power plant.
A similar hybridisation effort exists in the racing game genre. It seems that being a straight up sim or a flat to the floor arcade racer is no longer good enough.
Raging Thunder 2 joins the list of racing hybrids, but it’s one that you might not have seen too much of before. It combines the high speed, adrenaline pumping gameplay of an arcade racer with the colourful, power-up heavy, physics-defying feats of a casual kart racer.
What’s more, the two elements of this hybrid engine purr in almost perfect unison.The best of both worlds
Early experience with the game suggests a slick if predictable arcade racer in the vein of the Asphalt or Need for Speed series, and there are certainly many similarities. You hare around twisting, flowing tracks in your muscle car, tilting to steer, boosting wherever possible, and nudging your opponents into the barrier whenever the opportunity arises.
This is scrappy, ever-fluctuating pack racing, where your sole goal is to fight your way to the front of the field and stay there. This is achieved not by picking your braking points well, but by plotting a course to collect as many boost bar top-ups and helpful power-ups (such as the burning tire, which glues you to the road) as possible.
All the while, you must avoid the many hazards (such as ice patches and lava flows) that litter the increasingly outlandish tracks.
This thrilling race engine is housed within a brilliantly designed chassis of a single-player mode. Career is the main event, tasking you with progressing through the racing ranks, buying new cars and improving existing ones with the money you make from your races.
There’s also Survival mode, which eliminates the last-placed racer at the end of each lap, not to mention the good-for-a-quick-blast modes of Single Race, Instant Race, Time Attack, and Arcade.New and improved model
The first game's clunky tackle bar has been done away with, the mechanic instead being absorbed into general play. You can still activate a bonus boost by drafting opponents and even send them flying with a timely shunt, but it’s all handled in a far more streamlined manner.
The major omission from the first game, though, was online multiplayer. Polarbit hasn’t made the same mistake twice, continuing its fine work on Krazy Kart Racing to create a compelling online wi-fi racer for up to six. The only problem here is that you can take your suped up single-player cars online, leading to some ridiculously uneven match-ups.Engine problems
Other than the online mode’s need for more structure, another fault is the nature of some of the tougher courses. As you progress through Career mode, Polarbit shows its kart racer pedigree a little too readily, the tracks beginning to bend and dip like roller coasters.
Given the pace the game moves at, it can be very hard to react to the tight turns, sending you plunging off the track repeatedly until you’ve committed the layout to memory. It’s the only point at which the two racing elements come loose and rub up against each other, which is a shame.
Still, Raging Thunder 2 is a worthy sequel, keeping the series competitive near the front of the pack. By bringing a little madcap karting magic to the mix, it ensures its uniqueness - and thus a place on any self-respecting race fan’s iPhone.