There is a fundamental part of the human brain that likes speed: a collection of synapses that is exulted by the scenery rushing past and the reckless charge into the distance. The more speed you apply, the more that part of your brain screams out - "Faster! FASTER!"
And so we have a racing - well, I hesitate to call it a simulator, given that simulators normally computerise contemporary things rather than futuristic jet cars. First, you set up your account. Next, construct a racing vehicle from a choice of front, middle and back sections. You can customise the colour scheme as well. Then take your vehicle into races, earning cash (score) and experience depending on how you place.
FASTER (all capitals - Digital Kickers are keen on shouting out their presence!) is an online racing game. The online community can race against each other or play single matches against their computers, so the online aspect doesn't restrict your fun too much. You can also join a clan of racers (or form your own) and gain experience to upgrade your vehicle with extra abilities such as weapons, shields and so on.
It is fair to say that Digital Kickers don't do things by halves. The download is some 247Mb - even some slower Broadband connections may quake at that! - but this isn't wasted. Dozens of cities are converted into race tracks (passing under the Eiffel Tower or crossing the Thames simply doesn't happen in most racing simulators!) and you can play any track you like, in any order, as often as you like. This freedom is very welcome.
Graphics are the biggest cause of the vast download size. Each track has a wealth of background and track components, each vehicle can be constructed in a range of colours and components and there are lighting effects aplenty. My old laptop wouldn't even meet the basic system requirements and the desktop machine lacks sufficient shader support, so it looked at first as though I would be unable to run it. Fortunately I've recently acquired a new laptop - my loyalty to Bytten knows no bounds! - with the graphical power to play FASTER properly.
Sound too is excellent. Each track has its own, er, track, forming a variety of rock that fits the locales. At this stage I'd say the music is the strongest component of FASTER. There's also a wealth of sound effects, from the cycling up and down of your rocket engines to the screech as you scrape against the crash barriers. The various weapons and explosions that go off also add atmosphere.
While fun and fully playable, FASTER appears to be a work in progress. The English game text is variable in quality and the graphics, while excellent, suffer a few occasional glitches. The biggest problem is the lack of instructions - do the different components of your vehicle affect your speed and handling? How exactly do clans work? Fortunately the basic controls are obvious - arrow keys move your vehicle, and you can look backwards with the space bar. Keys B, N and M adjust the camera distance from your vehicle. Various keys operate your powerups, revealed as and when you get them.
FASTER has the ability to keep fans playing for a long time, assuming it can amass and retain a large enough base. A few hundred people had signed up when I last looked, but more are needed. The freedom of playing any track could also be a curse - a major aim for some players is the ability to 'unlock' tracks. The upgrades are an encouragement but it takes a lot of playing to unlock just one, never mind more - meanwhile, the CPU cars already have them, though thankfully they tend to blast each other! Those "time stops" can be annoying.
All criticism aside, FASTER is already a good game - and, when the menu systems and glitches are cleared up, it could be a great game. Few indie developers dare to take on a genre that normally warrants a commercial budget. FASTER is a serious contender and deserves a look - and, if it entertains you, be sure to show your support. Pop by the odd evening and you may even find me fighting for first place.
Keywords: faster review, digital kickers reviews, digital kickers games, faster scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.