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Halfbrick Studios, who I interviewed a while back, has recently released their fantastic looking asteroids-style multiplayer racer, Halfbrick Rocket Racing, on Xbox Live Indie Games. I have taken the time to play through the game and experience all that it has to offer, and while I won't write an official review or score the game (as it only costs $3 and shouldn't be compared to other full-price releases), I can and will write this shining recommendation.
Xbox Live Indie Games hasn't really offered up anything great since its launch late last year. There are some games that stick out of the pack, like ZPK29, Carneyvale Showtime, Groov, Miner Dig Deep, and my personal favorite, I MAED A GAEM WIHT ZOMBIES INIT. While all of these have their merits, none have really exhibited the type of quality of a game that could be on Xbox Live Arcade. Halfbrick Rocket Racing is a bit different, though, because if it were to be updated with a few extra options, I could easily see it being a legitimate Live Arcade release.
The goals presented in the single player mode of Rocket Racing vary only slightly. Every level is pretty much a race against time to the finish line, whether that be over multiple laps or once through a longer level. Bronze, Silver, Gold, and "Brick" awards are given for successful times on levels, depending on how quickly the player finished. Improving completion times on levels (most of which last around 15 seconds) is largely based upon your ability to ride as close as possible to walls without crashing into them, which provides your ship with a considerable boost in speed. There are online leaderboards for speedrunners and competitive types to enjoy, but no online multiplayer option exists. Here's a short video provided by the developers which fully explains how the game works.
Two control options are given to players. One setting involves using the two trigger buttons to alternate power between the two rockets on your ship to steer (which I found to be a bit complicated), and the other controls method simply requires you to use the analogue stick to steer while you supply power with either of the triggers. The second control option is much easier, and makes the game feel like a racing-inspired Asteroids.
The lack of online multiplayer and the inability to create one's own levels are really the only bummers about Rocket Racing, as the actual gameplay itself (especially in multiplayer) is so fun that any excuse to get more of it would be awesome. I played a bit of two player with a buddy of mine and within the span of about 30 minutes we had played well over 50 races. Competing for better and better times became fairly addictive rather quickly, and I'm definitely planning on loading the game up the next time that I have a bunch of friends over. This is bite-sized gameplay at its best. Stop being stingy with your $3 and go download this one now. Oh, and here's another awesome trailer to further convince you.