Bottomline: It might lack the polish of big-budget commercial titles, but the highly original and very addictive Audiosurf is pure arcade gaming at its best. And it only costs a fiver
One of the great things about computer gaming is that for every expensive, samey shooter there are several instantly playable free games online (here, for instance). Audiosurf sits somewhere between these polar extremes. It’s an independently produced game available through Valve’s online distribution system, Steam, for just $9.99 (approx £5).
Looking initially like an odd blend of Wipeout, Guitar Hero and Tetris, the premise behind Audiosurf is highly innovative. It uses the MP3 collection stored on your computer’s hard drive to generate tracks on which you race a small spaceship. The shape and speed of each track is unique to your chosen song, which also becomes the soundtrack to your game.
As you speed down the track, you have limited movement (left and right is about it), but the idea is to catch various colour-coded blocks as they hurtle past you. Warmer colours (reds, yellows) score higher than colder colours (blue) and collecting them in larger clusters or using power-ups boosts scores even further. There’s no specific goal other than getting high scores.
However, even this aspect of the game has a spin in that Audiosurf features an international online league table, meaning you can be the best in the world at a specific song. The more obscure the song, the better your chance of a shot at a top score – so it’s easier to become king of Sons of the Stage by World of Twist than Twist and Shout by the Beatles, for example.
Presentation-wise, Audiosurf is a little basic, though it partially makes up for this with its highly individual style. Fans of complicated role-players may find the gameplay a little one dimensional, but that would be kind of missing the point.