April 8, 2011

Vertigo is a game where you attempt to race a “Xorb”, essentially a customizable marble, though a wide selection of tracks suspended high in the sky. Ideally, your goal is to go through all of the checkpoints and reach the end as fast as possible, with medals and point rewards for reaching this goal under certain times. There are infinite retries, four different gameplay modes between Arcade, Career, Time Trial and “Xorb Bowling”, limited multiplayer and so on. It sounds like a nice title at first. 

However, just because the tracks are high in the sky doesn’t mean this game is as heavenly as Icon Games has promoted it to be. More often than not the tracks you’re on have pencil-thin roads and railways for you to navigate. Sharp turns, sheer drops that do a disservice to the camera angles and few checkpoints create an environment where you’ll drive less like an F-Zero racer and more like a senior citizen: slowly and slamming the brakes every couple of seconds. At least, if you want to live that is. Otherwise you will end up dying repeatedly, having to sit through the literal five or so seconds it takes for your Xorb to tumble all the way down to the invisible “Out of Bounds” barrier at the bottom of each track; the same period of time that is added to your time as a penalty each time you die.

The Xorb by default handles decently enough, but the career mode adds in a tuning function to allow you to further enhance your Xorb’s statistics. While a nice touch in premise, the ease at which you can max out the Xorb’s stats makes going for the medals required to get the points used on stats superfluous. With the equivalent of one gold and two bronze medals I had the Xorb maxed out, and there’s 56 or so tracks to this game.

All in all, Vertigo is really only a game for two types of people: fans of marble games like Marble Blast Ultra and Switchball, and masochists who enjoy an unfair and harsh challenge. And while the portability of the PSP version can be better than the PC and Wii versions, the oddly-long loading times for a downloadable title may turn some people away.

Pros: Large amount of stages and game modes, many Xorb customization choices

Cons: Tedious and harsh gameplay, long load times, deaths take too long to sit through


Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.