"What seems to be the problem, officer?" - Review By Subskin
By Christmas, the Dreamcast will have about a dozen racing games available. The
first DC racers were weak - Tokyo Extreme Racer didn't offer enough options, and
TNN Hardcore Heat should be burned at the stake. The coming batch of racing
games - Speed Devils, Sega Rally, Metropolis, and the distant Sega GT - is going
to set the standard.
Speed Devils beat Sega Rally to the shelves by three weeks. With all the hype
over Sega Rally, it's tempting to ignore Speed Devils and hold out for Rally's
release. Don't. Speed Devils is a great arcade style racer, and deserves its
day in court.
The graphics in Speed Devils are great. All eleven cars look realistic and unique. They have fake names but are obviously modeled after real cars, from a
70's Thunderbird to a 90's Geo Tracker. Each car also has around ten different
skins to choose from, from subtle color changes to flower power paint schemes.
The cars visually display damage with bent fenders, crumpled hoods, and broken
headlights. As far as I can tell, the damage only goes so far; you can't total
a car. I've accidentally fallen off the Grand Canyon and rammed a UFO in the
same level; if that won't do it nothing will.
Speed Devil's track design is top-notch. You'll face dinosaurs, tornados, volcanoes, and more.
I didn't notice the sound effects or music until I started taking notes for this
review. When I actually paid attention to them they were nothing special. The
cars do have engine sounds and you can hear a bang when you ram a '57 Chevrolet
at 170 miles per hour. The music is typical racing game hard rock, like it was
pulled straight from a Van Damme movie. Basically, the sound in Speed Devils is
vanilla ice cream: it's bland, but it doesn't really get on your nerves.
Unfortunately, I don't have a racing controller, but the standard DC controllers work just fine,
anyway. The analog stick is an easy way to steer, and not as erratic as in
Playstation's Gran Turismo. The L and R triggers are pretty easy to use for
acceleration and braking, and the thumb buttons shift gears, handbrake, and kick
The tracks in Speed Devils are awesome. There are twelve tracks, including
Hollywood, Canada, and Nevada. Time of day and weather do not simply affect
traction in Speed Devils, the conditions drastically change the tracks. For
example, in the summer Aspen has green wildlife, turned-off ski lifts, and a
lakeside road. In the winter Aspen is covered in snow, the sky lifts are
operating, and the frozen lake can be used as a shortcut. The obstacles - from
the Jurassic Park dinosaurs at Universal Studios, Hollywood to an active volcano
in Mexico - are detailed and allow for tons of inventive shortcuts. Ubi Soft
has created the best tracks in any arcade racer to date.
Night racing in Speed Devils can be pretty tricky, as the somewhat realistic headlights limit your field of vision.
Speed Devils also has a great deal of variety in game play. You earn money by
winning a race (duh), but you also win it by making side bets with your
competitors and bosses during the races. These range from passing a police speed
trap at 150 miles per hour to making sure a competitor fails to finish in the
top three. These extra "missions" add a touch of originality to the game,
especially considering. Money can be used to buy new cars, upgrade your existing rig, or pay for repairs.
Multiplayer has a bit more depth than your typical console racer. There's your standard head to head race mode, of course, but Speed Devils also includes defend & attack, distance lag, time lag, and special challenge two-player modes. While none of these modes add anything significantly different to the gameplay, they can be a nice change of pace.
The interface is slick and easy to use, it's always easy to get to where you want to go. The in-game menus and HUD are pretty good too, allowing you to do things like restart a race or go back to the garage without causing any frustration.
Speed Devils is Cruisin' World done much better (like Half-Life to Quake). For
all the imagination on the tracks, you've still got a bunch of fake cars racing
on tracks based on real locations. Still, Cruisin' World never did it this
The movies in Speed Devils are pretty damn lame.
The movies in Speed Devils are terrible. They are clips of the Speed Devils
game reduced down to 2/3 screen size. They do nothing but show you grainy
images in a format worse than the in-game racing. Although Speed Devils has
seventeen non-player competitors (think Road Rash), they are only shown as still
images. If Ubi Soft had used the full motion videos to show characters talking
or different endings a la Twisted Metal, I might not skip past them after two
seconds. This may be a minor problem, but believe me: those videos are
The worst part of Speed Devils is Sega Rally 2. Speed Devils was released
October 30th, and Sega Rally 2 is expected on November 23rd. If Rally 2 lives up
to the hype, it will bury Speed Devils.
The Final Word
If you only buy one racing game in 1999, buy Sega Rally 2. Still, give Speed
Devils a run. Even if Rally 2 replaces Speed Devils as the best Dreamcast
racer, the awesome tracks and simple fun will bring you back to Speed Devils
again and again.
Developer: Ubi Soft
Publisher: Ubi Soft
Highs: Amazing track design, simple controls, Dreamcast graphics.
Lows: Lame MPEG videos, waiting for Sega Rally 2.
Other: 1-2 Players, VMU Compatible (for saving), VGA Card, Race Controller, Jump
(out of a possible 10)
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