Written by  :  Nikolaus Zier (69)
Written on  :  Oct 18, 2007
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars

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Story mode is entertaining but could be longer!

The Good

As far as physics, they fall somewhere between simulation and arcade. And that's perfectly fine, because this game isn't meant to be a drift-filled arcade racer like the Ridge Racer games by the same developer. I highly suggest turning the ABS and TCS settings way down in the setup for each car. It makes the handling much more slippery and enjoyable. The graphics hold up okay, but aren't spectacular.

And while it's not as jam-packed with cars and tracks as the Gran Turismo series, it has a few interesting features of its own. Drag racing, noticeably absent from the GT series (other than a time trial here and there), is included, and with more than just two cars at a time. The ability to force a mistake by pressuring your rivals is highly entertaining. It adds a bit of strategy to passing which would otherwise be as simple as bashing into them in the turns to get past. And the comments by your pit crew and fellow racers is creative and mostly fine, though you may get annoyed eventually.

But my favorite part of the game is definitely Racing Life, also known as story mode. You play the character of Rena, a young Japanese woman whose ambulance-driving talent gets her discovered by a mysterious racing corporation. Along the way, you have to compete with a rival known as Gina Cavalli, or "that Spanish chick" as she is referred to on occasion. Of course, I really wish the story mode was about twice as long as it actually is. But there are other modes to play through, like Event Challenge. Event Challenge is fairly deep, with multiple tournaments and various types of races, including "rival" races and one-make races. The performance upgrades available for each car are nice, too.

Speaking of buying things, you don't really earn money. Rather, you get RP, or race points, for driving smoothly and winning races. Drifting, air time, and winning a drag race without nitrous are a few examples of things that can give you RP to spend. VS mode allows you to compete in either straight-up races or RP battles, where the player who earns the most RP in a race gets the victory.

The Bad

Aside from the shortness of the story mode, there are a few minor issues. There's not really a full sense of autonomy in the missions, as the consequence for losing is to retry the series. It would've been nice if there had been a divergence somewhere that led to alternate endings.

I still haven't figured out how to use reverse. Maybe it only works with the manual transmission option, but it's frustrating when you spin out and have to mash the gas, do a donut and hope you don't get stuck on a wall. There's also no collision damage, so there's not much of a penalty for smashing into a wall or flying off the road.

Sometimes the commentary by the crew chief will give you a gap to the car ahead, but not very often. It would be useful if it was more frequent.

There are a few bad words in the game, and some might find a problem with both of the female characters showing major cleavage in the cut scenes, along with a brief view of Rena's upper half from behind in the shower. I didn't mind at all, but it wasn't critical to the premise of the game. And I hope they at least zip their firesuits when they race, because it's a safety issue, after all.

The Bottom Line

In all, I would say that this is a fun game with a few quirks. I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel someday. Don't worry about comparing it to other racing games, just give it a try, because it adds variety to the racing genre.