Preview: JetX – Hold on to Your Hats (and Stomach)

Speed in virtual reality (VR) can be both a blessing and a curse. One the one hand whizzing around a virtual world at breakneck speeds can be super exhilarating and only experienced with a VR headset. On the flip side, it can be a direct one-way journey to sick central, with way too much going on it can get a little nauseating. So it’s always interesting to see how a developer tackles this conundrum when speed is at the core of their experience. And that’s certainly the case with JetX, the latest title being developed by Singularity Lab.

JetX is going to be a competitive multiplayer experience with oodles of gameplay options and modes to play with. In this early demo publisher FIBRUM sent VRFocus it was all about the single-player side, showcasing what are likely to be the two main modes, Race and Arena. While these are your standard affair, the presentation and quality of the gameplay make JetX instantly stand out.

If you’ve ever played Survios’ Sprint Vector and much smaller indie title Jet Island, then you’ll be at home on JetX. The videogame seems to have combined the intensely colourful visuals and environment style of the first, with the latter’s hand-mounted jet propulsion technology.

Mounted on either hand is a gun, with this unique weapon you can shoot opponents, and fly all at the same time. The main firing ability can be changed depending on whether you prefer a more rapid-fire style approach, charging up for a powerful blast, or the more up close and personal shotgun method. And of course, no multiplayer focused experience would be complete without a few powerups to collect, such as rockets, shields, slow down, overpower and even a black hole.

But none of this matters if you’re going to instantly feel ill after five minutes. Which is why the Arena was the first port of call. Looking as though Picasso had created a Tron themed enclosure, with a dizzying array of nooks and crannies to fly through or hide in, on offer was a deathmatch with bots. While the bots tended to perform as simple automatons, flying head on all guns blazing for easy kills, the actual flying was nice and smooth even when performing tight turns or other usual jarring effects – the things VRFocus does to test out a videogame!

Even though the Arena was reasonably entertaining with bots it soon becomes a bit boring. The Racing mode, on the other hand, wasn’t, in fact, this is the centrepiece of JetX. Again only one level to test, the track was a beautiful mixture of high-speed sections, sweeping corners and viciously tight segments. With plenty of routes to choose from it would take a while to find a preferred path, as the course gives you complete freedom to fly anywhere. The only problem, there’s a central translucent tunnel which keeps your speed up, leave it and it’s like flying through custard. So while there’s the encouragement to stay in this slip steam so you can win the race, just on the outside are where all the powerups generally lay. So JetX has this great twist in strategy between going fast or getting tooled up.

At the moment from what VRFocus has seen so far, JetX is coming along very nicely. It looks like Battlezone with wings – which is no bad thing – big monoliths of colour that create vivid landscapes to fly around in. Most important is the movement which by first impressions Singularity Lab has nailed already. Now it’s just the matter of delivering sufficient content, to provide players as much variety as possible so that JetX can stand out from the growing list of multiplayer VR titles.

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