The following review is based on a pre-release demo version of the game JetX, developed by Singularity Lab.
I'm not sure when I first heard mention of the sci-fi racing game JetX, but it seems like it was at least a couple of years ago now when I first read about the concept and saw some early images of it, so I was extremely excited a few days ago when I read on Steam that its release was imminent, with a launch date set for sometime this month, during March 2019.
A quick look over the Steam store page to refresh my memory of what the game was all about was then enough to convince me that I really needed to try it, and so I quickly reached out to the developers to see if they wouldn't mind sending me a review key, and that's exactly what they did, kindly sending me a code for a limited pre-release version of the game so that I could review it for the VR Explorer website. As the key code dropped into my email box my excitement levels went through the roof, and before I knew it I was downloading the game, prepping my play space, and removing any distractions that might interrupt my planned playtime with this awesome looking sci-fi racer. Please note: no people, pets, or phones were harmed during this process!
As per usual, a few PC problems decided to arise right at the exact moment I was about to play, and almost put paid to my planned night of VR sci-fi escapism, but a few restarts later, another couple of cups of tea to calm the nerves, and the PC was back up again on its feet and I was raring to go, and with fingers crossed I hit that play button.
I must say even the JetX logo on the loading screen impressed me, and without getting too ahead of myself, I felt confident that I was about to have an awesome time and felt very privileged to be about to play the game before most, it just felt like a real honor.
As the loading screen quickly vanished, I was suddenly staring around an impressive looking lobby with the start menu in front of me, and the low-poly graphics and effects were instantly impressive. It felt very polished, and after a quick look at the menu options I headed straight into the tutorial eager to get into some high-speed action, and I found myself in a large open tunnel where I was immediately met by a friendly bot who gave me a few basic instructions on how to move, and how to shoot. This is when I first experienced the method of locomotion and it instantly blew me away - it just felt so incredibly smooth and responsive, as you controlled your thrust with the triggers of both controllers, allowing you to almost hover perfectly, or if the the need arises, zoom off at really high speeds, turning and twisting with a good amount of control - it just felt really good and I wanted to keep zooming up and down the corridors, but felt obliged to follow the hovering robot who was trying to show me other things that the game had to offer, such as rockets to obliterate a huge set of doors blocking my way further ahead.
After demolishing the doors, I followed him/her in to another large room, which contained a couple of portals, one being to the advanced tutorial, which is where I headed, and this is when me and the bot parted ways. I can't say I'd miss him much, but I was grateful for the quick introduction, and maybe I'll bump into him further down the road.
The next section of the tutorial placed me in a large see-through dome area, which had some giant rings floating in a set course inside, allowing me to practise some precision flying. There was also a large screen at one end which showed me more things I needed to know, such as how to lock on to targets, what different power-ups did, and also taught me about energy management, as flying around at speed and shooting, all uses energy, as does your shields.
I really enjoyed this tutorial as it gave you some free rein to zoom around and take it all in at your own pace, and again the graphics were highly impressive, with some of the effects really taking my breath away, such as the ball of Dark Matter that suddenly appeared, which also has its place in the game under one of the many different game modes. From here, once the tutorial was over and I felt it was time to leave the dome, I went back to the lobby and I was presented with two options - Arena, or Race, and so I headed straight into my first race.
There were 5 or 6 of us on the course - myself, and then the rest were bots, and before I knew it I was zooming down the track, my fingers locked on to the boost buttons, draining energy like there is no tomorrow. The tracks are an open sided tunnel which it's easy to fly out of until you get the hang of the controls, and once you leave the track the speed does drop significantly, so straight away I was struggling to keep up with the bots.
The course design was excellent though so I didn't mind stopping (or rather crashing) to admire the view, which again was a stunning sci-fi affair, with cool backdrops to be admired and even alien creatures flying around but never getting in the way of the racing.
I crashed more than once, and also found myself slightly disorientated a couple of times and heading the wrong way, which slightly spoiled the enjoyment as I really am a high speed freak in these sort of games, but after a couple more runs, with my level of control increasing, the course suddenly got faster and faster and I was enjoying every moment of it and couldn't wait to race again and increase my speeds still further. However, after a few races I decided it was now time to check out the arena combat, as I was recording and knew that is probably what the viewers were now waiting for, so in to the arena I headed, and wow, another highly impressive setting that reminded me somewhat of the nightclub location 'The Distracted Globe' from the book 'Ready Player 1' - which is a great book BTW if you haven't read it already, and it is a million miles better than the film, which is best totally avoided, or at least until you have finished reading the brilliant book.
From the moment I spawned in to the arena, which I assume is a dome, I could instantly see its potential for excellent multiplayer mayhem, with walls to hide behind, platforms to launch from, holes to ambush through, and power-ups a plenty, and I suddenly wished the place was full of real people and not just bots, which although the AI wasn't too bad, it never compares to other human players. However, it was probably for the best as I was soon getting my arse handed to me on a plate by the bots and realised that just like the racing, I probably needed a bit of practise, though even as it stood it was immense fun and before long I was zooming around getting a few cool kills as I learned to manage my weapon heat and energy better.
I can only imagine how good it would feel if they had a team mode for this, or a coop mode, though even the all out death-match is going to be awesome I am sure and I really can't wait to play against other humans, whether they are on PC screen or in VR, it's going to be a lot of fun that is for sure, and I am quite confident that the game will attract a lot of players, especially as you don't need VR to enjoy it.
One round in the arena was enough for me, as I was eager to get out of VR and check my recording worked, which thankfully it did, and you can now find the whole play-through on the VR Explorer YouTube channel to watch whenever you like. Please give it a thumbs up if you enjoy the video, thank you! and when you get to play the game please come back to VR Explorer to leave a review and rating, as the more reviews I can get, the more it will help my site to get off the ground, which is always hard when a site is brand new.
Now, for my rating of JetX. To sum up my whole experience, I can honestly say that I have found JetX to be a highly polished, extremely fun experience, though I really feel like I have just scratched the surface of it with the single player game, as I believe this game is heavily focused around its multiplayer element which I really cannot wait to play.
The graphics are excellent, often bordering on the stunning, especially with some of the backdrops and the in-game effects which I really love, and together with the pumping tunes, it all blends to create one super-cool highly playable game that I know I will be playing a lot more of over the coming weeks and months. See you in the arena, or on the racetrack.