Tim recently linked to the news that Nimblebit's upcoming karting game Zero Gear has now entered the beta stages and is available for signups. If you haven't already got in on the action, you can visit the Zero Gear site to signup. Over 50,000 people have applied, so you're sure to get a decent sized game going.

My number one concern was how badly lag was going to affect the action - warping karts and weapons all over the track could spell disaster. Of the races I participated in, I experienced only a few individuals who were doing the lag-warp, and my own driving was pleasantly lag-free. Put a tick in that box.

The driving itself works exactly how you'd expect and if you've played karting games of old (see: Mario Kart) you'll know what you'll be dealing with. Floating boxes on the tracks can be picked up and contain weapons and upgrades to help boost you forward and take out the opposition. There's also a boost bar which fills up as you pass checkpoints on the track.

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The big selling point of Zero Gear, besides the fact that it's multiplayer, is the physics-based collisions. Land incorrectly after a jump or collide with another karter and you'll potentially spin off and have to correct your driving line before continuing. Honestly, it was the one major problem I had with the experience as a whole - I mean, maybe it's just me, but I don't get what is fun about being spun around all the time and having to correct myself everytime I make a slight error of judgement. It led to much frustration.

The weapons are a very mixed bag. The punching glove is stupidly hard to make connect with someone else, and even when it does, it sometimes does more harm to yourself than them (see partway through the above video for an idea). Same with the ice cube - landing it on someone else can be very tricky. I do, however, love the L.U.V. BOT - fire it off, and it locks onto another racer and chases them. Prepare for a humping if he catches you.

There are four different game modes available to play:

Race - the old classic, first one to the finish line wins
Tag - become "it" and then avoid everyone else as you rack up your score
Target - try to jump your kart into one of the multiple targets for the most points
Goal - 2 teams face off to try and knock the game object into the other team's goal

I stuck to the races for most of my play, as I didn't particularly enjoy the other modes as much - again, my issues with the physics-based gameplay put a bit of a downer on the other modes, since they are all pretty much to do with bashing into things/other people. Another reason I mainly raced was the track selection - there are some beautiful maps to race around. In fact, the whole game is very well polished and being able to customize your kart and driver with different emblems, patterns and colours is wonderful.

It feels like the Nimblebit guys have still got a way to go before they have the gaming experience they're looking for, but Zero Gear is definitely one to watch out for. Go sign up for the beta now and see what you make of it.