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Lightfield Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Lightfield is proof that fresh ideas still exist. This is a game that takes the racing genre and turns it on its head by adding flying, driving and dizzying stunts. It's a fun little racer with incredible locations, fast-paced action and more technique than you might expect. And while I would have liked a wider variety of modes and more tricks to master, I can't deny that this is a great first stab at the concept. Lightfield is poised to take over where F-Zero and WipEout left off. Rating: 71%
Lightfield
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  • Review Score:

  • B
Every so often you'll hear people complain that there are no new ideas and everything is so derivative these days. I reject this line of thinking. Sure, a lot of triple-A action games tend to look the same these days, but there are so many great developers coming up with clever and innovative twists to some of the most popular genres. One of those games is Lightfield, an ingenious take on the racing formula that somehow mixes flying, driving and stunts into the year's most original extreme sports game.

When you think about futuristic racing games, chances are popular franchises like WipEout and F-Zero spring to mind. Lightfield is nothing like those games. This is a weird hybrid racer where you control a StarFox-style ship that can either fly around the level or touch down and drive like a straight-forward racing game. Flying is slow but offers more freedom, while driving is fast but limited. This is a game all about not only figuring out the fastest way to complete the race, but also when to switch from flying to driving.


What makes this game so tricky is that you're not limited to simply racing on the ground. As you fly through the stage from one checkpoint to the next, you'll be able to speed across any flat surface you find. I'm talking about the floor, walls, ceiling and everything in between. The stages are set up to include all kinds of paths and shortcuts, sending our racers through a dizzying course where we're not always sure which way is up. I'm not going to lie; it's an impressive spectacle that can also be a little disorienting at times.

What I like is that the game is easy to control and switching between flying and driving is never a hassle. One of the best things the developers have done is keep the controls simple, especially when it comes to flying. We're basically limited to steering left, right, up and down, so don't expect to have full control over rotating around. In fact, the only way to rotate is to get close to a flat surface and hold down the drive button. This will automatically rotate the ship and take care of most of the heavy lifting, leaving you in charge of racing through the course. The controls take a little getting used to, but once you have them down, it ends up being second nature.

There ended up being a lot more technique than I initially expected. Not only are you constantly trying to find flat surfaces to speed across, but you'll also need to master a move that will boost your craft as you jump off of the ground. There are also tricks you can perform when leaping between surfaces, as well as triggers scattered throughout the courses that will change the track design mid-race.

For as cool as the level designs are, you don't really get a sense of just how involved they are until you ignore the race all together and start exploring on your own. These stages are huge and full of details you normally wouldn't see. In fact, these stages are so large and intricate that I'm a little surprised there aren't more events shoehorned into each location. What the game ends up doing instead is sending you on a scavenger hunt for hidden stars, which will force you to visit every nook and cranny of the massive level.

Lightfield (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, this is just one example of the game never fully realizing its true potential. What we have here is a great first stab at this type of hybrid racing game. The developers get the look, world and handling right, proving that they have a killer concept that is both innovative and addicting. The problem is that they never take the next step, so it always felt like something was missing. This is a game screaming for a more robust trick system, or perhaps a mode where everybody has WipEout-style weapons. It would be great to go up against friends to see who could earn the highest scores, a la Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or SSX. There's so much they could have done with this concept, yet it feels like they stick to the bare minimum and nothing more.

It's also worth mentioning that the frame rate isn't especially stable. I had a lot of issues where the game would freeze for a slip second, and the post-race replays become a framey mess if you let them sit for more than a minute or two. This is especially frustrating because I love everything else about the presentation. I'm a big fan of the way you leave a light trail everywhere you go and the sense of speed found in each track. And don't forget about the detailed stages, which are even more impressive once you go exploring. There's a lot to like here.

Lightfield is proof that fresh ideas still exist. This is a game that takes the racing genre and turns it on its head by adding flying, driving and dizzying stunts. It's a fun little racer with incredible locations, fast-paced action and more technique than you might expect. And while I would have liked a wider variety of modes and more tricks to master, I can't deny that this is a great first stab at the concept. Lightfield is poised to take over where F-Zero and WipEout left off.
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