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Warpspeed

Driving as fast as possible along a stretch of motorway may be all well and good for the lawless, but it’s not advisable to anyone on winding roads. Unfortunately, this applies in the future as we begin to instigate development of warp speed travel. By distorting the shape of space, pilots can navigate through these curved fabrics to travel at previously unknown speeds, but the channels it creates are not for the fainthearted.

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Warpspeed appears to be in the vein of a prototype for Elite on iOS. Set in a first-person cockpit view, travelling at warp speed requires you to navigate thin tunnels that look like the inside of fibre optic cables. The objective is to reach the end of the passageway in the shortest time possible, without crashing your ship.

The easy set of maps teaches you how to trek through the twisting portals on a 2D plane, allowing you to get to grips with the spaceship’s controls. Pressing the right-hand side of the screen accelerates, with the left-hand putting on the breaks; a function I never used. Once you complete the first three maps, you’re ready for the next set, and now the aptitude to look up and down by tilting the device has been added as the design requires you to swoop through and steer round tight bends.

The fabric of space that needs to be traversed is covered with orange sparkles, allowing the next section of the track to be seen in advance. It looks nice, but the same theme and colour is used throughout the nine tracks. By changing the colours depending upon the set of maps selected the palette would have given an implication of breadth and variation.

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With three sets featuring three maps respectively, there isn’t a great deal of content to engage in. Less than half an hour will see you journey through all of the channels and complete the game. There are additional achievements for finishing tunnels without hitting the boundaries, for example, but the tilt controls require a slow ride to accomplish this; and not a remarkably thrilling one.

By experimenting and adding different challenges to complete, Warpspeed would have had an actual campaign; more than just achievement incentives. If the purpose remains to reach the end as fast as possible, then comparison times during a race, or an online mode that shows your progress against that of the person tracked above you on the leaderboard, would add a significant incentive to keep playing for that extra place.

It’s noble to see a new concept ventured, an independent attempt at creating an engine that could be used to create modern mobile versions of classics such as Elite or Descent. The possibilities are open but currently unexplored. However, a fine touch is the inclusion of a track editor, allowing you to construct your own tunnels through deep space to explore. While the options are restricted, the addition of a random level generator adds a little to the limited content.

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Warpspeed is more of a technical demo than a final product, further proven by the repeated soundtrack that is akin to an old game engine trailer. The design is there, but now it needs to become something more to develop itself as a video game, and not just an idea. As it currently stands, it feels distinctly like an old Amiga game; the kind you’d play on a random floppy disk and then possess faint memories of as you grew older.

4 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

Gentle persuasion

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