I wonder when Cole asked, “Does the world really need another racing game?” If he ever thought about a cel shaded racer? I have to be honest when I first saw this game, I thought “Man they are going to really make this look awful”. Well, first comments can come back to haunt you and I will admit after playing “am” abbreviated to save space, I am amazed at what they where able to create here. I know some may think the same as I did about a cel shaded racing game and question if it is worth buying? This one really speaks for itself and has some very cool options and the ability to take your own created racer online and race it against 8 others. I am sorry I could not test the online feature of this game. From what I hear though it works rather well and this one is really a work of art. In many ways it almost like Sega GT only cel shaded. The game looks rather simplistic at first but it really offers some great game-play and is more than eye-candy!

I want to talk about the controls first based on a few Emails and comments I have read and heard. Yes they are a bit tricky and you know what? I love this game for the fact they actually included that when you race a car and give it too much gas, you’re going to start to lose grip and the car will start to swerve. Knowing how to adjust and set-up your car for this is all part of real racing. So to say the controls are over sensitive is not being fair to the game. Yes, they take time to learn but any racing game has certain things you need to learn and compensate for. The controls are set-up very well for the most part, but there a few minor things that could have been easier to use like the reverse gear. However, the basic controls are easy to learn but will take time to master. The courses make sure of this and really will show you just how your racing skills are.

Using the cel shading gives the game a whole different look. The effects are great and even include back firing of the car when easing off the gas or down shifting, which few games seem to remember to include. You may hear it in some games but often never see it. The courses are all real and then were re-created in the cel-shaded format. Now the effects certainly are neat and actually very remarkable. I would have liked to see real-time damage shown during a race. I know that this may sound picky but to me it just add to the game. Regardless if that really is the only thing missing, it shows what a great job they did in the graphics of this game. Also the customized options really are neat and add something to the game. You have a chance to unlock certain things, but you can also use the editing tools to really make your car your own creation.

The games music is your basic fast paced tunes and it would have been nice to have a bit more variety to choose from. The Arcade mode is fast paced and the announcer does a good job. You will hear some praises and a few slams about your driving ability. It all is done very well and there really is not much to complain about. The sounds of the car are all done very well from the gas to the gears even the turbo kicking in. When played are all mixed together and have that realistic sound to it. Perhaps even better than some of the most popular games out there now and again, when you’re watching the replays, you also have options to add sounds music and edit everything.

There are 3 main modes and all will keep you challenged. You will soon find the game very easy to pick up. They add a few new things like getting Emails when you win or lose giving you tips and of course unlocking tons of things to add to your dream car. The game play is excellent and the frame-rate to me seemed steady. There might be a few times depending on a curve or the way of course is set-up where it may seem to slow down for a second or so. Also the camera view is set-up very well again depending on the course and you driving there may be a few times where the angle could have been better.

The bottom line is this game is fun challenging and addicting. It certainly has to be considered for our Hoagy Awards. Any race fan will like something about this game and with all the options available it certainly offers replay value with some fast pace 2-player competition and online competition if you have the PS2 adapter and broadband connection. The game does require broadband to be able to use the online option. When you see the game in action, I am sure you will understand why. I never thought a cel-shaded racer would grab my attention and hold it but this game does just that!


System: PS2
Dev: Capcom
Pub: Capcom
Released: Mar 2003
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Chris