||Tokyo Xtreme Racer
Is that an Acura NSX in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? - Review By Ares
From the people that brought you Aerowings comes something much, much better. Have you always wanted to run wild on the highway late at night, racing your friends for bragging rights in your brand new car? Tokyo Xtreme Racer has a different perspective on the racing genre and comes complete with graphics never before seen on a home console running at a constant 60 frames per second.
The first thing you'll notice is how great the graphics are. They are easily comparable to Sony's PS2 Gran Turismo 2000 demo. Each car is very highly detailed including flip-up headlights, spinning tires, and even door handles. Every car in Tokyo Xtreme has a very cool gloss effect that makes each car look like it just came off the showroom floor. Watching a car drive down the highway with streetlights and signs reflecting in the windows is a sight to behold. Simply put: the cars in Tokyo Xtreme show off the best graphics you've ever seen. Period. It's impossible to explain in words how good the cars look. You really have to see them in motion; screen shots don't do them justice. After each race you're treated to a replay consisting of very nice TV-style camera angles that really show off the graphic splendour including your car's taillights leaving behind a trail, similar to the PlayStation's Ridge Racer Type 4. Of course, in Tokyo Xtreme, it looks many times better!
If Tokyo Xtreme Racer is one thing, it's nice to look at.
On the gameplay side of things, Tokyo Xtreme has plenty of variety including two player, quick race, and practice modes on top of the main Quest mode where you find tons of cars to purchase through your earnings. You earn a certain amount of money based on the quality of your race opponent, how much of your meter is left, and how many kilometres the race took. Each car has a unique feel to it and you'll have to get the hang of them, learning when to brake and what gear you should be in as you jostle for position all the while dodging traffic. It takes some time with each new car, but after a while it becomes second nature. Back in the upgrade shop with your money, you can purchase new cars or upgrade your current one. Upgrades include new engines and chassis' and go all the way to spoilers, wheels, and mufflers! You can really tweak your car and make it unique and the changes aren't merely cosmetic; they do have an impact on how your car handles on the road.
Perhaps the coolest part in the game is how the racing actually takes place. While you only have the one Tokyo highway in the game, you can drive around leisurely bypassing normal traffic all you want, but when you come upon a rival opponent, you flash your high beams in order to initiate a race. Sometimes the driver will ignore your challenge to race, but most often they'll accept. Getting ahead of your opponent and staying there determines the winner of the race. You have a "health meter" at the top of the screen and as you stay in the lead, your rival's health meter slowly drains - the farther ahead you get, the faster the bar drains! Instead of racing one track after the other, you get to pick and choose your opponents including where on the highway you race them. Choosing the right stretch of track for you and your car's capabilities can be the difference between a win and a loss. This kind of style is a refreshing change from standard racing games out there.
Where the game falls short is in the surroundings. While the highway track is very big and nicely detailed, with off ramps, overpasses, street signs, and different lights, the actual city surrounding the highway is sparse. You do come across office buildings, which look great, but you pretty much get the feeling that this highway is floating in space. Add to that the fact that you're always driving at night on the same track with no time of day changes or different weather conditions, and you can get quite tired of the surroundings.
The interface is simple but gets the job done. Choose your car type, colour, and
While the difficulty of your opponents varies nicely, the regular street traffic artificial intelligence is quite bad: they drive along slowly and methodically, and they never change lanes. At one point, I was waiting for an opponent to catch up and I had a traffic jam start behind me. The cars in my lane just kept piling up; they didn't change lanes to bypass me. Instead of getting the feeling of being in a very dynamic city with cars that have their own agendas, this Tokyo Highway feels isolated.
One of the weird things that Crave Entertainment has done is that although they didn't get the game licensed by car manufactures, they have perfectly modeled real life cars including Honda Civics, Acura NSXs, and BMWs in the game. Every car has an odd code name associated with it to, I suppose, bypass any potential lawsuits. But if they're not paying car manufacturers for the license, why isn't there any car damage? You can't even scrape your car or get it dirty.
The replays are almost photo-realistic. "Hey Grandma: get off the road!"
Finally, maybe I'm one of the few who think that music and sound effects are vitally important to a game. I sure hope not, but Tokyo Xtreme lets me down. The only sound effects you hear are from your car's engine and any skidding or crashing you do. The other traffic on the highway doesn't make a single sound, not even that of their engines. As well, it would be very nice to hear things like police sirens to give the game the aura of driving through a busy city. There's a very stale and isolated feel on the highway that isn't helped by the radio either. The music, while not a total write off, isn't great. It has a kind of Japanese Anime feel to it that neither inspires or disappoints; it simply could have been much better.
The Final Word
Tokyo Xtreme Racer is a great looking and playing racing game. It has lots of cars to earn and tweak but the fact that there's only one track, in spite of being very large and highly detailed, may deter some people. In the end, if you're looking for a solid driving game to tide you over until Sega Rally 2 and want to show off your fancy new system to friends, this is the one.
Highs: Absolutely stunning graphics, great frame rate and control, lots of cars to upgrade and tweak.
Lows: Only one track, no weather or time of day changes, poor music and sound effects.
Other: 1-2 players, VGA Cord Compatible, VMU Compatible (for saving), Jump Pack Compatible, Race Controller Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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