Support Rowan, click to buy via us...
Vertigo takes a pinch of pinball and the thrill of the rollercoaster to create a great platform game. And because the Wii-mote feels so good it ranks up there with the mighty Boom Blox for its Wii specific controls.
Know what a Zorb is? It's a giant, transparent, soft plastic ball that you climb inside and then roll down a hill in. Sounds cool eh? Unfortunately you can't just pick up a Zorb at your local store, sell your car/bike and Zorb all over the place on public roads. It's a form of transport that you're unlikely to experience, so thank goodness for Playlogic Games who have tried their best to create a Zorbing experience in your own home. In this game you become a 'Xorber', and a member of the most elite Xorb racing corporation in the galaxy (ooooooohhhhh...) and you get to roll your way through all sorts of 'landscapes', doing exciting things that only balls can do.
The main attraction of Vertigo is its racing game. You control a ball on a track, which looks like a cross between a rollercoaster and a pinball machine. You have to keep your ball on the track and reach checkpoints, and as you progress the tracks get harder to stay on. In Arcade mode, gameplay is as you would expect - when you complete a course in the allotted time, you can progress to the next level. If your ball falls off the track, you get a number of lives before it's game over. In Career mode you can earn points to modify your ball and unlock new tracks - lots and lots of new tracks. This is really the key to keeping this game from getting boring; there are over 50 landscapes to race in, each with a different looking track, so although the basic gameplay is the same, each track presents a new challenge.
The Wii-mote is extremely well-suited to the game, and feels like a precision tool.
There are a number of additional activities to spice things up: you can play a game of ten-pin-bowling against up to 3 other players (using the same Wii-mote). It scores exactly the same as a real game of bowling, and gets a little tedious after you've rolled down the same short, straight track 10 times. On the more entertaining side, you can fight someone else's ball by rolling into them and trying to smash their ball to pieces, picking up additional weapons to speed up the destruction (needs 2 Wii-motes). This has an initial flurry of excitement as you discover the array of weapons that sound like they will wreak havoc when you unleash them on your opponent, and then a sigh of disappointment when you discover that they all pretty much do the same thing to the other person's ball (make it break quicker).
This is the high point of the game. In some Wii games the Wii-mote feels like an ill-fitting, unnatural tool to work with; in those sort of games it fast becomes obvious that the game was created first, and the developers had to figure out how to add in the Wii-mote. You get the opposite feeling with Vertigo. The Wii-mote is extremely well-suited to the game, and feels like a precision tool; it is highly sensitive to pitch and roll (big words - look 'em up!), so this is a game that you can play with your wrist alone. Moving the ball around with the Wii-mote feels a bit like trying to balance a marble on a plate of glass; you really do feel in control with the slightest movement of your hand. The A button speeds things up, and the B button will stop your ball dead, which comes in really handy.
If you want a real challenge, you can use the Wii Balance Board instead of the Wii-mote. I wouldn't recommend it. Trying to shift your entire bodyweight around to balance a marble on a piece of glass is frustrating and you look stupid. It's the kind of thing James Bond has to do in order to avoid being eaten by a bad guy's hungry pet shark - he manages to do it and he looks cool. Believe me, you won't. This is undoubtedly a game for the Wii-mote, so don't go rushing out to buy a Balance Board hoping that it will feel like being in a real Zorb (or being in a real James Bond movie).
It's the kind of thing James Bond has to do in order to avoid being eaten by a bad guy's hungry pet shark - he manages to do it and he looks cool.
A striking feature of the game is the 'camera' movement. As you tilt/turn the Wii-mote, your ball moves, and so does your viewpoint, which sort of catches up with ball in a swooping motion. It works very well. You get a neat feeling of moving with the ball, and this adds to the sensation of rapid movement. I wouldn't recommend it if you get travel-sick, but if you like rollercoasters, this could be like going to the park every day.
The landscapes and tracks are well designed, with enough variation to keep your interest for some time. Lots of rollercoasters = lots of fun.
Kind of annoying, but exactly what you'd expect. The track racing music is designed to make your adrenalin boil and burst out of your ears (doesn't work), while the bowling music is dull and designed to help you roll your ball in a straight line (doesn't work). The one good thing is the sound of the ball rolling - it is actually realistic. I didn't take the time to find out if I could turn off the music and just hear the ball - maybe they'll save that for Vertigo 2.
In my weird imagination I see a Wii-mote with little legs marching up to a podium, holding a game of Vertigo above his head like an Oscar and saying 'Thank you very much, thank you, thank you. I'd just like to thank Playlogic Games - I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for them.' This is the Wii-mote's game. My Wii-mote loves it. He cheers every time I load it. I play it just so he can enjoy himself. Vertigo is a precision game that requires some genuine hand-eye co-ordination, and as such, is an ideal accompaniment to your Wii-mote. Buy it just to make him happy.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: