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Hands-on: Rev to Vertex Prologue – Revved out

In February of this year I had the opportunity to try the Touge racing sim Rev to Vertex and let’s just say I wasn’t too impressed with the experience.

The demo was riddled with performance issues: choppy frame rates, controller issues, and disappointing sounds. There was something promised; For example, the graphics looked decent, and touge racing in a standalone title is an intriguing concept.

However, now Hong Kong-based development studio PLUTONIZATION has returned with an updated demo – Rev to Vertex Prologue. The question is, has it improved over the past few months?

3…2…1..NO

Things start out confusingly with a setup screen for changing audio, graphics and controller options, with no immediate option to drive. The initial Rev to Vertex (RTV) demo was absolutely tedious to set up, but after a brief adjustment period in the prologue, I was able to set up my DualShock 4 and launch the game. An encouraging start.

What followed was a loooong load time (remember I used a more-than-decent gaming laptop with a fast SSD for this test) that led to a cluttered start-up screen displaying nine race events to try out.

Unfortunately, when I selected the first race and drove a souped-up Mazda 6 – dubbed the MZ3 Cup in-game – the lack of controller speed sensitivity reminded me of RTV’s demo. Framerate was also erratic, with frequent screen tearing.

loading times, right?

The first practice session was just a full throttle run through a couple of corners that lasted just over 20 seconds. Was that it? However, this underscores Prologue’s increased vehicle count, with three more vehicles than the early demo version of RTV (including a hotter version of the front-wheel drive Mazda clone).

Frustratingly, changes made to the controls’ speed sensitivity settings aren’t saved, and their impact is minimal anyway, meaning playing Prologue with a gamepad was rarely fun. Although we haven’t tested Prologue with steering wheel peripherals, the demo version was plagued with configuration and recognition issues. Hopefully those creases have been ironed out by now.

Replays show off the game’s visual tricks (minus the horrific spark effects) but also randomly shows your wheels pointing in the opposite direction that the car is going. It’s immersion-breaking to say the least, but the damage effects look pretty on the outside.

Engine sounds for the cars are passable when heavily digitized, with a decent damage model adding some realism to your road sign demolition (which British viewers will recognize given Hong Kong’s historical position as a British colony).

Rev to Vertex Prologue“That’s how it was when I got it!”

road hard

To the uninitiated, touge racing is essentially fast driving (or drifting) up mountain passes. Made famous in Japan by the Initial D manga series and surrounding car culture, Rev to Vertex aims to emulate that experience, starting with the Tsuen Wan section of Route Twisk in Hong Kong (where PLUTONIZATION is based).

This is where Prologue builds its nine point-to-point levels, beating Gold, Silver, and Bronze level times, unlocking the ninth and final level. However, you should drive as smoothly as possible, as drifting is taboo with such shonky controls.

Rev to Vertex Prologue

However, on those rare moments when you can control the car, there seems to be a decent driving model hiding in the background – it’s just really hard to find.

The final game will feature car modification mechanics, with the vehicles already in the game (MZ3 Cup, MZ3-TA, ZZT GT3, NA2 GT1 and A80 GT1) looking aggressive and looking like fully paid members of the Mid Night Club. If PLUTONIZATION manages to capture the vibe of street racing, they will be on the trail of a winner.

Right now, why not just grab a copy of Assetto Corsa and download some quality street racing mods? I’m afraid that’s going to be RTV’s biggest problem in the market.

Rev to Vertex Prologue

There’s even a real-time tire widget in the bottom left of the screen that shows tire and brake temperatures, though cold tires are a lot more jittery to drive than warm ones. It’s a feature that reflects RTV’s pursuit of simulation, something we really want to include.

Final Countdown

Without the ability to set dead zones or control the speed at which your car spins, I found Prologue too difficult to play with a gamepad. It shares many of the issues we reported on in the demo – most notably difficult controls and poor graphics performance.

Visuals are the biggest issue though, but in terms of smoothness, not fidelity. Prologue looks pretty nice on higher settings to be honest, but such settings make the game unplayable for me.

A handbrake spin is the only way to cross a finish line

While the system I’m using is modest by hardcore gaming standards, it’s still well capable of running the resource-intensive BeamNG.drive at 60fps on high settings. So a single car on a single track (at medium graphics settings) shouldn’t perform that badly. RTV recommended system requirements include a GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card that tells its own story.

However, PLUTONIZATION is a small development team with a handful of employees, so the fact that such an impressive looking game exists is an achievement in itself. And as we reported earlier today, Rev to Vertex will be fully released at the end of June. I can’t help but think the team needs a lot more time to get things right.

The free Rev to Vertex Prologue is now available to download and try for PC (Steam).

did you sample it Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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