When the demo for Red Bull augmented racing began at NYGaming‘s local games demo, I was just getting warmed up for a rant on how much I hate branded games. Corporate sponsorship almost always means a mediocre casual game, minus some gameplay elements and plus some extra annoying popups.
Still, I was attracted to the cyberpunk awesome of arranging Red Bull empties into a racetrack, scanning and filming them with a smartphone (iOS only, which seems more like a branding choice for Red Bull than a technical requirement), choosing a background, and letting the app creating a playable, unique racetrack.
The social element comes in when players upload and share their tracks, with the ability to race the ghostcars of friends and strangers. Of course, there’s the ubiquitous social leaderboard (guess there are some elements of a typical branded reskin), and the ability to like and share on Facebook.
In conclusion, I still don’t really like Red Bull. I don’t really like racing games. But the juxtaposition of empty cans of chemical energy, and the augmented reality pocket tech is way too cyberpunk to ignore.