on 5 July 2005
I am surprised; surprised by the fact this game isn't very well known, doesn't sell a huge amount of copies and yet is 'streets' ahead of NFS Underground, yes it really is that good.
The street racing scene is obviously what people want right now in their racing games as EA are making their third installment of Underground, and other excellent games such as 'Juiced' and 'RPM Tuning' have also made the street racing modding scene the theme of their racing games.
I have played two versions of this game, the PC version and the Xbox version, in my opinion the PC version is better, it really is exceptional, while the Xbox is also very good, I prefer the PC version because the handling is more exciting and tighter, and the frame rate is faster. This game is very fast and it doesn't even need a super powerful PC to run it, it runs silky smooth for me on an Athlon 1.4 gig CPU, 1 Gig of Ram and a 128MB 'GeForce Ti4600 Ultra' graphics card.
From the start you'll find there are 3 American cities to race in, the main city is LA where you will do about 85% of all your racing, then Philadelphia and Miami, Miami is raced in the day which is a nice change to the night races of the other two cities.
The game has two modes as well as the obvious online multiplayer, there's Arcade mode, where all the tracks are already there unlocked for you and almost all the cars, for quick races, time trials etc and then the meat of the game: Story Mode, story mode starts where you help out a guy who's lost a racer on his team and so he asks you to fill in for him, winning that race gives you cash to buy your own car and then your career starts, You then compete in crew events comprised of 3 races each.
The thing that makes this game different from NFS underground and others is that you have to not just win races but score style points as you drive, I suppose it's a little like Project Gotham racing in that sense, taking corners on two wheels, brake drifting, drafting and various other things gets you points and these add up so you get respect, and as your respect increases other racing crews from different parts of LA will then race with you. But thats not all, as you may have seen from the girl in the cover pic, there are 18 'girlfriends' in the game you can pick up, you do this by being set a driving task by them and if you complete it they will ride with you, start all your races for you on the starting grid and wait for it; dance for you in their videos to the backdrop of pounding music, you play the videos back at your warehouse, these are real videos of real women, not graphical computer generated, 18 models were assigned to this game, and believe me these girls are hot!! you get 3 videos to unlock for most of the 18 girls and with each video you'll find they start with street clothes and by the third video are dancing in a bikini, incentive to win races do you think?
Graphically this game is very impressive and the main thing, loads of fun, the cars handling is great, especially on the PC version, so many racers these days feel a little dead to play, it's just a shame this game isn't shifting copies by the truckload like it deserves to, defintely the funnest racer i've played in a long while.