on 5 July 2010
Because nintendo have such a childish " this is my ball " atttitude, the next gen masses who have xbox and ps3 are left with no game to truly challenge Mario kart.
Now im not saying this is, its a different style but incorporates a similar system. Made by Bizzare creations ( who made the succesful Project Gotham Racing for the 360 ), the game is an arcade racer, mixing real world cars and areas with big power ups and exciting online play.
First off I'll cover the games main feature, truthfully its ownly feature and the real hook of the game.
The power ups are a great mix of new ideas as well as refashioned , classic ones found in the like of Mario kart and Crash bandicoot racing.
Shunt is like a big red missile orb, pulsating towards the car thats right ahead of you.
Another is the classic mine which can be dropped either in front or behind you, this will stay in the same place until it is eventually hit. Although this good be you or a enemy , they aren't the easiest to see so any who has played Super Smash Bros. Brawl will know the annoying feeling of hitting your own trap.
Barge is like a shockwave which engulfs you car and gives you extra power with hitting other cars, it also deflects their attempts to barge you.So essentially this is a shield with a bit of power.
Bolt is three missiles , these can be set off all at once or all at the same time.A huge bonus is awarded if you all the missiles contact with the same vehicle.
You also have the other usuals, Repair, Shield and Nitro for a speed boost.
But my personal favorite has to be the Shock power up, this is a absolute beast as it places 3 electric sections in front of the leading car , no matter where you are. These cause a huge amount of damage and take down the speed tremendously. Of course being as strong as it is this doesn't turn up often, but when it does havok enuses.
Of course all the power ups can be used to defend as well as attack, Shunt , Barge and Mine can all take care of incoming missiles , so it adds a brilliant tactial edge to the game.
Power ups are picked up as you race through the levels and slot into 2 gaps at rear bumber of the car , these are stylistic and dont look out of place in the neon world, in fact when you dont have any power ups it just looks like you bumper has 3 sections to its design.
A nice touch with the game is that the power ups arent all powerful, in fact all the attacking ones can be avoided with skillfull and careful driving. Similarly that the amount of damage caused doesn't ever knock you out of the race , it just makes it more difficult.
The makers have created a scenario in which anyone can win , no matter what, until the first car passes the line. This makes the racing very exciting.
I touched a little on the driving there, being the creators of PGR I was expecting big things handling wise, although I didn't expect it to be great in the same respect as it is more of an arcade racer.
I was blown away by the handling, it is slightly less realistic than PGR 4, and its not Gran Turismo but the resonce is fast and clean.
The turning is relevant to the cars shape and build , you really can feel the weight and shift of the car in the controls. The different cars all feel different and all take a different way of approaching racing.
Seeing as this game is a competitor to the likes of Split/Second and Burnout , it has managed to avoid all the usual falls that those games take and has made a real challenger.
Another big part of the gameplay, and one of its other positives of the way the game progresses. The different areas of the game all belong to different groups or people, taking a slight likeness to Need for Speed, and the Rivals all host a range of events which you take part in to own the area.
The variety in this game consists of 3 main modes but they are all mixed together so you dont get one area with one type. 2 of these are pretty conventional ( normal race , checkpoint race ) and the third is the heart thumping destruction races where you have to just destroy as many cars as possible.
New areas are unlocked by earning "lights", these are awarded in either 3 , 4 or 5's depending on how well you did and two others if you have managed to satisfy the fans.
The fans is a recreation of Bizzare's PGR kudos system, basically the more flair and skill you have the more the fans will love you, this equates to points and all together " what do points mean " ........ PRIZES.As you carry on you realise that you need more fans to get the right car for a certain race, and have a better chance of winning.
Races will lead to certain challenges that the fans want to see , the more you complete the more fans are following you. An example of a challenge would be to drive with Nitro on for 10 seconds and not hit anything, or just by using a power up to damage another car.
Each event has a certain amount of fans that you should be aiming for, getting over this amount means you get another light and in my testing this was a relatively difficult thing to do depending on the races, some were easier than others all the way through the game.
You do have special fan events or "fan runs", these are races where you have to drive through gates , and if you do you get another light.
On top of this , and adding more difficulty to the small amount of different race types. You must also meet the Rivals expectations in order to take their territory, these are usualy five things you need to do to win a final showdown and go car to car with them. The challanges are a little more difficult than the previous ones and are things like , damage a certain number of cars with a power up, complete a certain amount of fan runs or win all the lights at an event.
Truth be told I couldn't meet all the requirements of any rival , but it doesn't stop you progression in the game. It's merely a way of giving extra re-play ability to levels and events, it didn't stop my enjoyement as all the little ways of earning points, land and fans join together meaning you always finish a race with something. Like CoD, no matter what you do , you will always come out with a achievement after the match.
But if you do Win the race, you take their car as well as earning a upgrade for a power up. However it must be said that after many hours and races, some events were very frustrating, I was winning some races near the end of the game but having to go back to levels I unlocked ages ago to try and complete it.
This jumping about of difficulty is what truly leads to the inability to finish any area, and leaving me a little bit annoyed that an almost perfect arcade racer had such a simple issue hanging over its bright neon head.
Speaking of that , the game also has an online mode. The starting of the online matches will be simple to anyone who have played the likes of CoD or any lobby based games. So you go online and up to 20 cars can race together, this still leaves a decent amount of space in the tracks , although overtaking and pwerups are manic and exciting.
Jumping into the lobby you have all the current members surrounding the center console, this includes information like what the race is and where its held. It also has class restrictions meaning only certain types of cars can be used, as well as picking you style for powerups, e.g. aggresive , showing you one definate power up and two random ones.
The clock then counts down from about 30 and after the loading screen, which features an image of the track and a track guide, you are off. Loading times do depend on your internet connection, but the race will start as soon as every one is ready.
The races begin with a rolling start meaning the action truly is right off the bat, the online also uses voice chat which I generally turn off through habit as their are still immature gamers.
Offline multiplayer is available through split screen up to 4 players, this is wonderful as the split screen is a dying breed and although publishers want families to play games together, they also want you to have 4 consoles to be able to do that. The split screen was smooth although the restricted viewing did make the game more difficult, however the gameplay was fun as its great having you mates next to you as your racing, chucking about some freindly banter isn't the same online as in your living room.
Cars in the game are at a premium, only 14. However, the cars that are their are a nice mix, ranging from the exotic, to old ,to everyday. Im not going to list them but to give an idea, you have the likes of Ford focus , GT , an old 50's Ford truck (come to think of it a few Ford cars, theres a mustang too), theres also a land rover. They are well designed and look very similar to their real life counterparts, however, customizing is kept to picking the colour, I beleive this is down to licensing.
Thankfully there are more tracks, 30 to be exact across 14 areas. These are all very exciting and feature many hairpins , big straights and tight corners. Nearly every tracks is a good design and all have something different about them.
The graphics of the game are very good, the bright neon lights and sci-fi feel of the powerups are all wonderful, especially during night races when the light flickers of the tarmac and cars headlights flicker from damage. All the levels are beautifully created and painstakingly moulded to fit the tracks, the Japan streets are full of symbols and bright billboards are awesome, the London streets are darker and gritty , one of them surprisingly set in Hackney, maybe the production budget ran out ?
The game also sounds amazing with revvin engines which echo along the track, the sound of screeching tires as you skid around a corner is wonderfully done and it all adds to the excitement. Theres no soundtrack during the race as the cars make enough noise, so vey pleasurable for the ears.
The screen has the bog standards of a racing game, position , lights , fans and track info. But importantly it has a rear view mirror, little strange you may think , but with the amount of missiles and obstacles around the track this is a huge neccesity and one you wouldn't want to be without.
if you want a arcade racer it's definatley topping the group over Split/Second and Burnout. Even though it has it's issues I am tempted to give it a full score as it is the best !