[Disclosure: An access code was provided by the developers for the contents of this article]

Darkseas Games recently made Road Redemption available on Steam Early Access. It's still far from being finished but the product is coming along very, very, very nicely. In fact, the gameplay is remarkably polished to be an Early Access title and there's a ton of content to boot, almost even more-so than what you might get from a standard $60 title.

During some test runs and benchmarks for an upcoming series of articles for Asus' new gaming laptop(s), I managed to scope out some of the new features and upgrades for the combat racing game, Road Redemption.

In the previous build I noted that the handling was a bit off and that there were some glitches here and there, but overall it was a solid experience. Well, with this latest update I can truly say that the game has come a long way from the last alpha build I played, and shows a ton of promise for what's bound to be a historic game when all is said and done.

Well, first of all I can say that the handling has been improved greatly. It feels tight and responsive; the motorcycles control the way you would expect an arcade racer motorcycle game to handle. The physics have also been modified to better reflect the dangers of racing at high speeds. You can get flung off your bike from passing traffic, colliding with environmental objects or getting rammed off the road by crazy cops, military or other vehicles.

One of the big changes from the previous alpha build is that damage is a lot more apparent. The game now uses a leveling system, so you start out with low life, a medium-speed bike and no money or experience.

Just like Road Rash, you'll have to race your way up the ranks to earn new gear, more abilities and new levels. Unlike Road Rash once you lose a race you lose all your money and any items/power-ups you purchased from the store. This might sound devastating but it actually makes you care about not dying. You can't just steam-roll through the races, die and keep going. The money you earn is very important for buying health supplies to replenish your HP after each race, or nitro refills if you run out. You can also buy additional ammo, experience boosters and other neat power-ups to help you grow stronger as you advance through the race circuits, going from the west coast to the east coast; outlined in a little mini-map between each race.

The races themselves are pretty cool. The tracks seem very reminiscent of Road Rash on PC fused with Road Rash 2. There's plenty of open road to move around and beat the crap out of opponents, while also having to weave between traffic and dodge pesky police, military and other disruptive forces.

The really neat part about it is that not all the races are straight through, point-to-point tracks. You'll have to partake in a wide variety of different objectives, including some that see you having to knockoff a certain number of rival riders without using any weapons. Another task includes outrunning military vehicles while motorcycle gangs throw dynamite in the middle of the road. Another task sees you racing across rooftops using a grappling hook and jump-jets to get the finish line. Another task includes outrunning a carnado (which is basically a tornado that throws out cars). And another task includes attracting as much attention from the police as possible, ala Grand Theft Auto.

To help you survive throughout the increasingly difficult levels are a wide variety of weapons. Standard pipes, sticks, shovels, axes and crowbars are par the course, but for the more outrageous missions, players can equip pistols, Uzis, AK-47s, shotguns and even grenade launchers. You can see how it all comes together in a nice 14 minute collage from YouTuber JackSepticEye.



The fighting mechanics are absolutely tight, and while the shooting could still use some refinement in how the animations are depicted and fixing the disjointed aiming sensitivity, it works well enough.

To me, the addition of split-screen just takes the whole thing to another level. Bringing back all the fun and mayhem that many gamers loved from Road Rash 64, with up to four-players, is just a great way to waste a weekend having fun. This is easily one of the best Early Access games I've played and ranks up there with Mercenary Kings and Space Engineers. You can grab a copy from the Steam store for $17.99 or you can learn more about the game by paying a visit to the official website.

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