Review by Gylgamesh

Reviewed: 03/05/08

Unexpectedly awesome.

Audiosurf is a game that just kind of came out of nowhere. Maybe it’s not because I don’t keep up with what’s being released on Steam, but I had never even heard of this game until it came out. And even then, it was more of an accidental finding. A few had been talking about it and the concept sounded interesting, so I figured I’d give the game a try. Not only did the game prove to be as much fun as it sounded – it actually far exceeded my expectations.

Some of you may still be wondering what exactly Audiosurf is. The game, released through Steam, is like some weird combination of F-Zero and Tetris. I know that probably doesn’t make any sense, and the game is fairly tough to explain without playing it. At its core, Audiosurf is very similar to any regular racing game you’ve played. The parallel to F-Zero is more related to the look and feel, rather than the actual gameplay. The selling point of the game is that you race around on tracks that are coordinated to music you choose. Any song you have on your hard drive you can load up and the game will create a track based on the beat and speed on the song. You’ll also have obstacles on the track (which the game calls ‘traffic’) to dodge while racing, also determined by the song. So if you load up a fast-paced song with a really crazy melody, you’re going to get a blazing fast track with a ton of traffic in your way. It’s really cool and the game does a good job of matching up the songs to the tracks for the most part. Occasionally you’ll get something that doesn’t quite make sense and not all songs work well with whatever algorithm the game uses to generate tracks, but for the most part you can load up any song you own and have a good time with it.

There’s also a puzzle-like element to Audiosurf, which is really what makes the game stand out. Before you choose the song, you can select a variety of modes (designated by different vehicles) from 3 different difficulty levels (higher difficulty means more traffic). These modes denote what exactly it is you’re doing while racing. For example, if you choose one of the Mono vehicles, the traffic will come in two colors – gray and colored. Your objective is to gather as much colored traffic as you can, while avoiding the gray traffic. In another mode, you’ll play a Tetris Attack-esque game where there are 5 different colors of traffic in addition to gray. Here, you want to stack the same colors in your reserves to clear traffic. Different colors are worth different points, and in order to clear traffic from your reserves, you need to line up at least 3 pieces of traffic of the same color. It might sound confusing here, but it’s actually pretty easy to get the hang of once you play the game. There are a few other modes in addition, but these two are the main ones that seem to be the most popular. After you finish each track, you’ll get a score based on how much traffic you cleared, as well as some added bonuses if you complete certain tasks like avoiding all gray blocks, or finishing the track with your reserves empty. There’s also an online leaderboard for each song that shows you the scores of anyone who has played it, and in addition to that, the game even includes some XBOX Live-like achievements you can try an accomplish as you play the game.

From a graphical perspective, the game looks pretty good. It might now totally blow you away but for what it is, everything works. The backgrounds are pretty crazy and everything is pretty easy to see. Menus are easy to navigate as well, which is always a plus. The game does, however, require a decent PC to be able to run. If you’re running Steam, chances are you probably will be able to run Audiosurf, but if you’re computer is starting to get old, the game may play a little slow, which isn’t really a good thing considering the type of game it is. Luckily there are numerous video options available to you, so you can tone it down if you need the game to run a bit faster on an aging PC. Soundtrack-wise the game only has two default songs, but that’s not a big deal because for the majority of the game you supply your own soundtrack.

The only real flaw in the game is how long it’ll keep your attention. Audiosurf has potential limitless replay value, only hindered by your own music collection. It’s a pretty addicting game when you first give it a try, but depending on how much fun you have with it, its novelty might wear off quicker than you’d like. Even if that is the case, this is the kind of game you can find yourself playing for a few songs every now and then, and not get really bored with it. If you’re already on Steam, download the demo and give the game a shot. If you’re not on Steam, get on steam and give the game a shot. Audiosurf is something that everyone should try at least once. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: AudioSurf (US, 02/15/08)

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