|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||VR SPORTS: POWERBOAT RACING|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||Racing||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||May 1998||Analog Joypad|
Setting the Scene
CAUTION: If you suffer from sea-sickness - don't eat before playing. An apt warning on the packaging for VR Sports latest effort, Powerboat Racing - It's true too! The races take you to 9 different courses in locations all around the world. Grab your helmet, take charge of your mono-hull or Catamaran powerboat and race up to 5 other competitors in some of the roughest water based racing ever seen. Unfortunately this isn't really saying much since the competition in this genre is pretty thin; however, if you're looking for some fast, furious and wet action on the PlayStation this may just be your game.
Take away the water and outboard motors, add tires and a paved road and you have a pretty standard Racing game.
Some time ago, I remember myself watching a demo of "Powerboat Racing". I was mesmerized as I watched the smooth, fast graphics fly past the beautifully rendered boats. The water reflected the scenery as it ebbed and flowed, the wake of the boats splashed against the edges of the course - I was amazed. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that what I was watching was the PC version of Powerboat Racing running on a Pentium 200 with a 3DFX card... Bummer! Don't get me wrong, if you take the PlayStation versions graphics on their own they are quite adequate, it's just the comparison and the feeling that the PlayStation version was an afterthought, that hurts so much. I'll start with the good points. As would be expected from a boat racing game, the boats travel at tremendous speeds along the water. The graphics are fast, helping to convey the impression of speed as you zip past the track side scenery, which is well drawn and changes depending on the race location. Unfortunately this speed comes at a price, the amount of popup and clipping is really unacceptable for a modern PlayStation title and emphasises my feeling that this version of the game was really just a quick "Cash-in" rather than a serious attempt to match the P.C version.
Sounds and Effects
The only nice thing to say about the sounds in this game, is that at least they could be turned off! The best element of the sound in this game is the background music. While it's nothing really stunning, It beats the hell out of listening to the monotonous tone of the engine and the seriously lame commentary.
When I was much younger I had a radio controlled boat, it was so much fun racing that thing around dams and lakes. It was noisy, fast and wet - all the things that really impress kids. So Powerboat Racing was initially a bit of a blast for me, having the chance to get control of a boat and race around a variety of tracks, in a bunch of great locations against some of the nastiest drivers around. Fans of racing games will also get a kick out of the gameplay, if only for the alternative it provides to the traditional road racing games available on the PlayStation. The racing modes available in the game are as follows: The single player modes are: * Arcade - You get to race 3, 5 or 9 races on different tracks. In the harder modes you have to win each race to progress to the next level. * Shoot-out - You and 5 other racers take off on 3-6 laps of a track, the last racer at the end of each lap is knocked out and you keep racing until you're knocked out or you win. * Time Trial - Race 2 laps as fast as you can then race another two against your own ghost in an attempt to beat your time. * Challenge - you get to race the current champion, if you win your time is recorded in the memory card so you can pass it around and let your friends attempt to beat your time. * Practice - just as the name suggests, practice any track to familiarise yourself with the courses. The multi-player modes are a little disappointing in that there are no computer controller racers, it's just you and a friend: * Head to Head - race 3, 4 or 5 laps against a friend, winner takes all. There are no other opponents on the course. * Shoot-out - Race 1 lap against a friend, again, no other racers are on the track. In single player mode, as you race through the courses in Arcade and Challenge mode your success is rewarded with the championship unlock password. The password allows you to race in either: Championship Mode - Where you race a full season, earning points for winning as you go. Slalom Mode - Where you race the normal course but have to steer to the left or right of markers in the water. Getting to grips with the racing dynamics of a boat amy take you some time. Boats have no traction, they tend to slide sideways a lot and it's generally very hard to drive in a straight line. You will no doubt get worse before you get better, but with a bit of perseverance you will soon be racing like a pro. You can race using one of two available views, either behind the boat or on the bow - frankly though only one of them is usable. Due to the mostly erratic behaviour of your boat, the bow view makes the warning on the packaging particularly apt, sitting on the nose of your boat will make you sick as the boat lurches and bounces around on the water. Which brings me to another negative point, the screenshots on the back of the packaging clearly show a cockpit view, this view has obviously been taken from the PC version, since it isn't mentioned anywhere in the documentation or during the game. Overall, this game is pretty enjoyable. Unfortunately a few major graphical problems exist that spoil the fun a little.
Value for Money
With 9 tracks that constantly change as you race, 2 types of boats and 3 classes to race them in, the options available for racing your little boat around in the water are reasonably varied. Add the two-player mode, even as restricted as it is, and you've got a pretty average racer.
game could have been so much more, and while the racing initially
impressed me - it quickly got a little boring.
What stuck out as the strangest element of the game is that the single player mode is actually better than the multi-player modes - strange but true.
My opinion would probably have been different if I hadn't seen the PC version of this game because this conversion does not even come close to it!