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   PlanetDreamcast | Games | Reviews | Metropolis Street Racer
    Metropolis Street Racer
MSR is certainly different, but does it have the fundamentals down? - Review By zerothreat
Page 2/2

The time-sensitive lighting can be a bother, sometimes. You may want to set your DC to daylight hours to compensate
Of course, I'm nit picking. All of these features can be toggled in the options menus, but I still can't help but wonder why Bizarre would shoot themselves in the foot like this. By settling on the worst possible default configuration I have ever seen in a console racer ever, Bizarre denies MSR a much-needed opportunity to make a good first impression.

But there are deeper problems, not the least of which is the physics model. Admittedly, driving in MSR is fun enough, as forward and lateral movements are handled well. But, strangely, MSR's physics code has almost no vertical component. Hard charging down the hills of San Francisco at about 105 mph, I would expect to catch a little air at least once in a while, but I don't. My car dutifully follows the road's contours, as though the forces of gravity were multiplied by ten. I'm glued to the road.

The physics code also fails when it comes to handling collisions. On colliding with a static barrier, my car comes to an immediate soft stop, as though I've run smack dab into a gigantic roll of toilet tissue. It's as though Bizarre decided not to handle collisions at all, except to stop the player when he confronts an obstacle. This, combined with the game's non-handling of vertical movement, makes me feel like the developers spent more time tweaking their radio-station and CD-player options than they did their physics code. They put lots of focus on gimmicks, but less on the game itself.

MSR's scoring system is equally strange. In fact, I would go so far as to say it's the most deeply flawed scoring system I've ever seen in a console racer. The game awards players congratulatory points, or "kudos," based mainly on skill, style and the general accomplishment of segment goals. I find it odd that we can apply an algorithm to something as esoteric as skill or style, especially where "style" equates to how many power slides I can perform in a given race (without regard to whether they're efficient), but that's beside the point. MSR's scoring system fails because it's punitive in nature. Let's say I earn a relatively high score in a particular race, and I want to re-visit that race to earn an even better score. By doing so, I risk losing whatever points I've earned previously, because the game forces me to gamble.

Argh! You'll be seeing this a lot -- even when other cars bump you.

If I get a lower score this time out, that's the one that counts, eradicating the old high score forever. This, in and of itself, wouldn't be so bad were it not for the fact that I see points deducted every time I strike a barrier, or every time I brush up against another car, or every time another car just barely touches mine. Not that I'm looking for a linear or "easy" gaming experience per se, but I never have the satisfaction of feeling as though I've really accomplished something in a particular race or chapter. That 180 points earned in a race today could very well be gone tomorrow, depending. This punitive approach to awarding points makes me feel uneasy about retrying earlier segments, thus diminishing the game's replay value.

The visuals are a mixed bag, too. While I applaud Bizarre for their meticulous recreation of real-world city environments, their attention to detail apparently comes at the cost of edge correction and mip mapping. Even when displayed through an S-Video connection or a VGA monitor, the whole screen just swims, making me wonder whether I'll end up needing corrective ocular surgery. About a half hour of looking at this game is all I can stand at any one time.

And last but not least is the exclusion of a quick re-start feature. Make no mistake; MSR is a tough game. Successful players will need to quickly become friends with the hand brake, and incorporate it flawlessly into an intricate routine of slide-turning, accelerating and sparingly applying the main brakes, all while trying desperately to not even slightly touch any other object in the world. Considering the difficulty inherent in each challenge, it would be nice if players were able to bail out and quickly re-start as necessary. No load times should be required. But, alas, no such feature exists in MSR. If you're not doing so well in a race, you can bail out and begin anew, but you'll need to endure six menu screens and whatever time it takes to reload the track. Have fun.

  • The Final Word
    As much as I wanted to like Metropolis Street Racer, I simply can't recommend it without reservations. There's no denying the game incorporates a lot of great ideas, and one can't help but appreciate the level of detail with which each environment is presented, but MSR's flaws drag it way down, preventing it from realizing its much anticipated potential. In trying too hard to create a racer that's everything for everybody, ten times the usual bells and whistles attached, Bizarre neglected to focus on polishing MSR's overall driving experience. Not that MSR is a bad game, but there are at least a few other Dreamcast racers I would have to recommend before it. Test Drive: Le Mans, anyone?

    Developer: Bizarre Creations
    Publisher: Sega
    Genre: Racing

    Highs: Mostly solid graphics, good control, mostly decent physics, innovative radio concept, numerous tracks and races.
    Lows: Scoring system highly flawed, wacky default config, collisions are a joke, a few graphic shortcomings.
    Other: 1-2 players, VMU Compatible (68 blocks), Race Controller Compatible, Jump Pack Compatible, VGA Box Compatible.


  • Intro (MPEG) - The intro mixes live and game action, with decent music. [Big (13M)] - [Small (7M)]
  • Gameplay 1 (MPEG) - London, in the early morning. [Big (14.9M)] - [Small (8M)]
  • Gameplay 2 (MPEG) - Evening San Francisco, complete with lame "R&B" on the radio. [Big (13M)] - [Small (7M)]
  • Final Score:

    (out of a possible 10)

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