June 17, 2024
Warp Drive Review Header
A blend of WipEout, Mario Kart and Rollcage, Warp Drive from Supergonk is a fun if limited anti-grav racer. The Finger Guns Review.

I think it’s fair to say that when Warp Drive originally launched on PC and Apple Devices in 2020, it stalled on the starting line. A lack of content and some performance issues meant that it failed to live up to expectations. It certainly didn’t fulfil the promise I saw in the game when I played it at EGX back in 2019.

Warping ourselves 2 years on however, Warp Drive is back. This time, the anti-grav racer has started its engines on consoles, including the PS5, which is the subject of this review. With new modes, smoother performance and an experience that feels built for consoles, rather than phone screens, Warp Drive is having a much improved second lap.

Warp Drive Me Up The Wall

To put it bluntly, Warp Drive is what would happen if WipEout, Rollcage and Mario Kart all got into one of these telepods from the movie The Fly. It’s a anti-grav racer – where your racer is floating above the ground. But rather than having that intentionally floaty handling that usually comes as part and parcel of this genre, there’s a level of ease and precision to movement that’s usually resigned for kart racing games. That comes alongside drift boosts and weaponry, aspects that could have been lifted directly from Mario Kart.

Where does the Rollcage aspect come in? Well, that’s the unique aspect of Warp Drive. The tracks in this game fork out and will have you driving on the floor, walls, ceilings and at all kinds of weird angles thanks to the titular warps. Unlike the aforementioned Rollcage, you won’t need to keep up your speed (thus downforce) in order to stay attached to these other racing planes however. Once you’re attached to the roof, wall etc, that’s your new gravitational plane of downward force. You can stop, and you won’t fall to the traditional flooring. In order to move to these other gravitational lanes, you can either drive over glowing strips on the track which will automatically transport you to the destination, or you can make use of Warp Grapple points around each track.

Warp Drive PS5

Crystal Methods

In order to use these Warp Grapple points, you’ll have to have a spare Warp Crystal to hand. These are pick-up’s that are strategically placed all over the tracks. In fact, these Warp Crystals are used to power many of Warp Drives’ mechanics. You also have to expend one of these crystals when using your offensive or defensive weaponry. The missiles and mines are the same for every racer and can counter one another; drop a mine when a missile is tracking you and you’ll throw it off your trail.

Lastly, this game’s version of boosts uses these crystals too. Hit the Square button and your chosen ship gets a brief speed boost. What’s unique about this is that your ship also gets that ability to drive through other ships. Like a rainbow coloured ghost, you can warp speed right through the pack.

The need for these Warp Crystals to perform most of the powers and abilities adds a strategic element to the racing in Warp Drive. These crystals are often found off the racing line. There’s a risk vs reward element as you weigh up whether it’s worth going wide on the corner to pick up a crystal or if if by doing so, you’ll lose too much time and have to fight back for your position.

War Drive Review PS5

I have to complement the track design in Warp Drive too. The branching of the tracks, some of which need those crystals to access, adds another element of strategy. You could use a crystal you’ve got now to speed past the competition, or you could save it and use it to access a short cut later. So long as you don’t get shot with a missile and have to defend yourself, of course.

More Bang For Your Buck

When Warp Drive originally launched in 2020, it came with just the tournament mode. The game now includes both the Survival and Challenge modes as part of the PS5 version. On paper, this triples the amount of content in the game.

The tournament mode is a collection of races, grouped into various cups. The first 3 cups take you on a tour of the 12 tracks in the game, split across 3 biomes. The first 4 tracks are set in an alien forest, like a neon bayou with giant purple mushrooms. The second set are all set in a frozen tundra, each of which comes with a thematic difference. In one of these tracks, you’ll be driving alongside the wriggling tentacles of a giant squid. The last set of 4 are all set off in arid canyons. There’s a series of other cups in the tournament mode that blend up these 12 races. They don’t get any more difficult, but they at least add a bit of variety.

The first of the new modes in the console version of Warp Drive is the Survival mode. In this mode, you’re presented with 2 randomly selected races or events to choose from. These are against a random number of opponents with a random difficulty setting. In this mode, you’ll also find time trial events, asking you to complete laps in a particular time limit, and coin events, where you’ll have to collect a target number of coins before the time runs out. The aim is to successfully win consecutive races/events. The higher your streak, the more money you earn after winning each event.

Warp Drive customisation options

Paving The Warp Drive To Success

After winning a race or event in either of the Tournament or Survival mode, you get the opportunity to spend any cash you’ve earned thus far. A trio of potential purchases get presented in a shop screen after each win. These all come with a cost and an effect on your racers performance. The parts are always of the same type and follow the now widely accepted gear ranking system of blue to gold, standard to legendary.

Buying and equipping these parts has a palpable difference on the performance of your craft. Some pieces will sacrifice top end speed for acceleration or vice versa. You can see this having an effect straight off the starting line, allowing you to boost away from the pack only to have them nipping at you come the first corner.

Other parts grant you special abilities. One part gives you a mini-boost (like the one you get from drifting around a corner) after every normal boost. There’s another that drastically shortens the length of time you need to be drifting before you get that mini-boost. There’s one that expands your possible store of crystals past the standard 3 and another that allows you to start the race with 3 crystals, giving you a big head start.

While it would have been nice to be able to choose what parts you can purchase at any time, rather than relying on the trio of parts you’re shown after each win, this system does add yet another layer of tactility to Warp Drive. It’s limited because of its execution, but building an over powered racer just to own everyone is quite fun.

Warp Drive Mines

A New Challenger Approaches

Those parts you’ve purchased have no effect during Warp Drive’s third, final and in my option, best game mode. The Challenge mode is made up of 104 tailor made tasks set across 3 lists that link to the 3 biomes. In these challenges, you’re given a craft that the game has built specifically for that task and then tests you to hit a particular goal.

Some are simply time trial races, asking you to take a slow ship and take it around the track as fast as possible. Others task the player to shoot a set number of ships with missiles, or boost through a set number of mines. The coin collection races from the Survival mode show up here too. The best and most difficult of the challenges are the coin collection races, asking the player to finish first while also collecting a set number of coins which often line the outside (and slowest part) of the track. There’s also a really fun mode called “Bomb Lap”, where the track is covered in mines and you’ve got to race between them.

The structure of this mode means you’ll only ever have a handful of challenges to go at. The majority of these take only a minute or two to complete, but make creative use of the game’s mechanics to really stretch the content.

Struggling Over The Finish Line?

It’s a shame then that Warp Drive couldn’t stretch the content to include some other basics that are a staple for the racing genre. There’s split screen local multiplayer – but only in the Tournament mode. If you wanted to just jump into a race against friends with a stock racer, you’re out of luck. The game really needed an arcade or dedicated vs mode to accommodate that.

Warp Drive Squid

Warp Drive is crying out for leader boards too. I understand that this would be difficult, both to include an online aspect and to incorporate the various builds that people would be setting lap times with. That said, including leader boards for track times could have really encouraged a community to develop around the game.

That could have been a game changer because Warp Drive is crying out for a bit more competition or challenge. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really quite easy to build a racer that’s over powered. Even at the fastest speed settings and difficulty, most races are a doddle if you’ve upgraded your racer in the right areas and have explored the tracks enough. The single player content that is here lasted me around 8 hours. I didn’t have to retry any of the Tournament races and I racked up a 45 win streak in the Survival mode before simply getting bored of doing the same kinds of races.

There’s definitely potential in Warp Drive however. The art style, colourful and vibrant, channels that Borderlands tone, along with chunky black outlines. The effects during the warping – while I imagine might turn some people off the game – give the game this cosmic tone, as if you’re really breaking through wormholes. It all runs incredibly well too. The AI can do some really odd things at times but in terms of frames and visuals, it’s technically excellent.

While Warp Drive can’t come close to the games it’s inspired by – WipEout, Rollcage or Mario Kart – there’s a good few hours of entertainment to be had here. If the developers were to make an expanded sequel, I’d definitely play it.

The PS5 version of Warp Drive is much better than the original version of this game that launched back in 2020 – but it’s still lacking in places. While it comes in second place to the games it’s inspired by, Warp Drive can fill that WipEout shaped hole in your heart, if only for a few hours. There’s certainly potential for more from this concept, should the developers want to make a sequel.

Warp Drive is available now on PS5 (review platform), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series & iOS devices.

Developer: Supergonk
Publisher: Supergonk

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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