Top critical review
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Quirky but Has Potential...
on 14 January 2004
When I first picked up this game it was the first racer I had played since my 4 month obsession with Project Gotham Racing 2, and the first thing that struck me was the sensetivity of the cars. I touched the turn button, and it swerved to the side of the road, a stark contrast to the slower, more realistic controls of PGR2.
As you would expect, there has been much more time spent on portraying the feeling of speed while racing, than on realistic handling or physics...
This is great to a certain extent, for example, the drag races are great fun to double shift gears and satisfying when your car lurches forward after hitting the perfect shift. You can see the screen shaking as you get above 100 mph (unitll you crash into an oncoming car and get toaled, it has to be said...).
This, is sadly, where the realism stops. You can be flying down a straight at 130 mph and take a seemingly impossible turn at the end of it not by breaking into it, or powersliding round it, but by just turning where you have a good chance to slide round it, and if you don't you'll almost certainly crash into the wall head on and without losing much speed at all, spin out of the bend with a feeling that your car should not be able to take this much of a beating.
OK, let me tell you about the good things this game has going for it. The sound track has a few good songs on, however, I don't like racing to any of them. And although the cars are much more limited thatn PGR2 (20 cars in NFSU compared to 111 in PGR2) you can customise your car fantastically to make it unique. There are 2 types of upgrades available, stuff to make the car run better, and stuff to make the car look better.
Since this is typically a game version of The Fast and The Furious, you can (of course) by NOS, but you can also buy chips, weight reductions, engine upgrades, you know, the usual. It has to be said that you can't upgrade nearly as much as in GT, and it is frustrating as hell when all the upgrades are locked untill you complete 15 more races.
Now for the parts I disliked, the graphics aren't anything special, there are some nicely rendered scenery and the FMV sequences, although short, do actually add to the experience somewhat, but I think its 30FPS.
30FPS!? And it does tell. I bought the game despite knowing this, and at the start, I sort of ignored it, but after a while it gets annoying, when there are 3/4 cars on the screen, or when a significant event in the race occurs like somebody crashes out, it begins to look dated.
Despite the cars driving unrealistically, all 20 cars drive almost exactly the same, compare this to every car handling differently in PGR2, and cars being suited to certain driver styles, there is none of that.
And of course, this game is let down by the fact that it isn't XBL enabled, because of the dispute MS is having with EA, none of their games are playable on XBL.
To conclude, despite cool touches and features, this is not a good game. I found myself getting bored with the Underground mode quickly, and the inscentive to complete races just isn't enough.
If you are going to buy a racing game for the XBox, DON'T make it this one, get Project Gotham Racing 2 instead, unbiasedly, it is SO much better.
Having said that, this game has it's moments, and it is fun to play for a while, if you enjoy putting stickers on your car and painting it, giving it spoilers, skirts and much more, but are prepared to overlook the shoddy physics and downright appauling FPS, this is an OK game.
PGR2 beats it in the driving physics and realism class, and all of the Gran Turismo's beat it in the upgrades purchasing.
My advice, steer clear unless you want a basic driving game and don't find customising cars trivial.