Developer: SplitCell
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

HexSweep looks and feels kind of like the mutant offspring of Harmonix’s classic PS2 rhythm game Frequency and futuristic racing games like Wipeout HD. Everything in the polygonal surroundings is saturated in vibrant, rich, glowing neons; it’s really quite beautiful. Provided you’re a fan of hyper-futuristic Tron-like aesthetics, that is. But really, who isn’t?

HexSweepHexSweepThe basic gameplay of HexSweep is all about whipping (almost sweeping, if you will) your abstract, arrow-shaped wedge of a vehicle around the exterior of the hexagon-shaped track. Wait. Sweeping movement. Hex-shaped track. Oh! I see what you did there, SplitCell! But I digress. One navigates the track using left and right taps on the screen, trying to hit as many speed boosting marks as possible while avoiding smashing into periodic walls that obscure certain lanes on the hex. Upon collecting a set number to pass the level, the barriers drop and players try to collect as many remaining boosts as possible before their ship’s fuel supply runs out.

The major difficulty in HexSweep comes from the fact that, as the player’s speed increases, it gets harder to avoid hitting walls – especially when one pops up after a blind turn. Really, it becomes a matter of track memorization, where one needs to try and plot the optimum safe route through each level, but that becomes increasingly tricky with the radially shifting perspective. It does require rethinking a lot of the game skills one may have acquired over the years, since these sorts of viewpoints are pretty rare (with games like the aforementioned Frequency being the occasion exception).

HexSweepHexSweepThe other big issue is that the “free” version of the game is only the first set of tracks alone – the Apollo “trial” class – with the other five classes of race locked out unless you feel like parting with a buck per class, or three for all five. Feels a bit like they should have slapped the “Free” or “Lite” qualifiers on the name, since what’s on offer here is little more than a glorified demo.

Still, if you feel like ponying up a few bucks HexSweep has a lot of things going in its favor: a throbbing soundtrack that syncs up well with the pulse of the gameplay, twitchy gameplay, and those gorgeous neon-future visuals. It’s also pretty cool that, unlike most games, this one can be played in both horizontal and vertical device orientations. I just disagree a bit with making this look like something more than a glorified demo – unless you’re willing to dip your toe into the in-app purchase pool.

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