Between all the recent go-karts, rally cars, and dirt bikes, racing fans may be looking for something different. Well, if you took the colorful jets from Above and Beyond Air Combat and had them just barely skim the surface of the ground in some intense, tilt-controlled races, you’d have Ground Effect.
What stood out to us in this game first and foremost are the stunning graphics. The environments are very beautifully rendered, and the contrails behind your skimmer serve two purposes. One is to give you an idea of the flight path of your opponents, and the other is to look really, really cool.
Your jets come in 10 varieties, but don’t have any distinctive attributes– just different paint jobs. Ground Effect does have 14 different environments to skim through, and from the time we spent with it, these tracks each have a very unique feel. For example, in the third track, Nightwind, we loved taking the big jump towards the end of the course and racking up massive air.
Even though your craft is flying low the whole time, you can’t adjust your altitude. A few bumps and jumps will send you flying higher for a short period of time, but you can also crash into steep mountainsides and explode. A series of checkpoint gates will return you to the track, but making it to the front of the pack (you always race against seven other fliers) takes real precision. A brake pedal and rechargeable boost are your only reasons to touch the screen as you fly.
A few problems we could see with this game include a lack of sensitivity adjustment for the tilt controls, and some underwhelming sound effects that are drowned out by the rock soundtrack. However, we enjoyed watching the game’s cinematic replays, and the additional ghost race mode is a nice extra. Ground Effect has been submitted to Apple, so look for it soon on the App Store.
(Note: Looks like we missed the touch-joystick control scheme on the options menu first time we played through Ground Effect. There is more than just the tilt-control option available, but you can’t change the sensitivity in our preview build. Slide to Play regrets the error.)