Does Coca-Cola's hoverboard game get off the ground?
Hoverboards have long been the boyhood dream of at least two generations of cinema goers by now, and while physicists are starting to toy around with freakish feats of levitation, we're still a long way away from realising the dream.
Enter Axon Runners, a futuristic city racer from (of all people), the Coca-Cola Content Factory. It's a beautiful looking game, with smooth lines and a neon-cartoon vibe. The frame-rate never seems to let up as you race down the cylindrical tunnels of the metropolis, gathering up orbs in a sprint to the finishing line.
You won't go particularly fast just steering left and right though. An upward finger swipe sends your racer leaping into the air which also provides a much needed boost to speed, while picking up the orbs spread around each level slows you down. There are of course various objects, traps, lasers and what-not ready to blast you back to the last checkpoint, so you'll need to choose your path carefully.
Progress through the game's campaign unlocks new boards, some of which have niftier jumps, or the ability to glide, or slow themselves down when needed. You'll also pick up new characters to play as you go.
This is where Axon Runners' main problem rears its head. The controls on the starter board are overly-responsive at one moment, hopelessly inadequate at the next. The merest flick sends your rider near-teleporting to the side of the screen while the time restriction between new jumps is too long. Intending to ride along a side rail, you may well find yourself propelled upside down on the ceiling, undoing the plans you've carefully engineered for the meagre selection of visible road ahead. All told, it can be floaty and frustrating as you're relentlessly sent back to the previous checkpoint with an overwhelming sense of unfairness.
Without being able to peer through the curved tunnels ahead, the odds of your surviving often seem stacked against you as drums, rotating laser beam bars and crates appear. Combined with the skittish controls, surviving one obstacle is often rewarded with destruction at the next, and the checkpoint system is sometimes fond of dumping you right in front of an obstacle, a situation where only the most furious of finger swipes will get you out of harm's way before you head perilously towards the next part of the course.
It's a fast-paced, futuristic, certainly very challenging game, and its spread across fiftenn levels. At the usual App Store dollar we'd probably recommend it if you fancy a tough challenge, but therein lies another problem that Axon Runners can't run away from: at $3.99 the amount of content stacks up rather poorly against the bulk of the App Store offerings. While this is a pretty and challenging game, it may simply turn out to be one that's a little too rich for your racing blood.
What's Hot: A beautiful looking game, with some challenging sections and a variety of different hoverboard mechanics.
What's Not: Great visuals can't compensate for the fact that the control system and pathing prediction work poorly together. Pricey for the content available.