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SCENE
GENRE
GRAPHICS
SOUND
PLAYABILITY
VALUE
OPINION



REVIEW INDEX

RAGE RACER

Developer

Namco

Options

Distributer

Sony

Wheel

1 Player

Game Type

Racing

Mem. Card

Review Date

July 1997

NeGcon

Setting the Scene

If there is anyone out there who has not heard of this classic racing series from Namco, then suffice to say that they have missed out on the closest thing to true arcade racing that the PlayStation has to offer. Ridge Racer was brilliant and Ridge Racer Revolution even better, the graphics were of arcade quality but what set these titles above the rest was the truly realistic 'feel' of the car. Connect a mad-catz steering wheel, switch on the T.V, crank up the volume and you were instantly transported to the race track for a truly adrenaline pumping experience.

The only disappointment was the longevity of these games. Within a week the three courses were perfected, mirror mode was cracked and you were probably just getting pipped at the post by that damn ghost car in Time Trial mode. The introduction of link mode in Revolution offered the player a game within a game and still holds as the best link-racer to date.

Genre

Who are the mysterious Rage Racers? It appears that no one knows how the race began or why it's drivers became known as Rage Racers. We do know that they live dangerously close to the edge, show an overwhelming desire for victory and boldly claim the whole world is their speedway (traffic cops take note). Unfortunately there can only be one Rage Racer.

Namco's third offering promises to be the best of the trilogy, so lets put the key in the ignition and prepare to give this baby a quick spin!

Graphics

The opening FMV hits you right between the eyes and screams out I'm beautiful, so cool, super smooth and one piece of fast merchandise. Gone are the old race excerpts to be replaced by an FMV sequence that oozes quality.

Rage Racer offers you the facility to design your very own racing car. First choose your vehicle then book it into the workshop where you can select a team logo from the catalogue available. However, if your a budding young artist then why not design your very own motif to parade on your hood as all the tools are available within this option. Once this is in place, how about a tasteless sun strip so you can plaster you own name across the windscreen. Finally it's off to the paint shop for a re-spray where you can clash colors to your hearts content. This is all good fun and the first race hasn't even started yet.

When race time arrives your first few attempts will see you busting up the barriers and damaging that new coat of paint. Not 'cause the circuit is too difficult to negotiate but because the background detail is simply jaw-dropping and you will struggle to keep those eyes fixed to the road. Buildings are exceptionally detailed and varied, neon lights brighten the shadowed track, airships and airplanes fly high above, windmill blades rotate, ancient ruins jut out of the ocean, waterfalls cascade from the surrounding hills, trees line the route casting shadows over the track and look at those clouds, absolutely stunning. The attention to detail is evident wherever you glance.

As you race there is very little Polygon pop up visible to the naked eye. Although there is a hill on the track Overpass City Group 3 that launches your car into the air with such great speed that your vision is temporally lost.

Sounds and Effects

The sound effects are superb. You can hear the engine revs of the car dramatically drop as it painfully tries to pull up a steep hill only to scream with relief as it thankfully reaches the brow before accelerating off into the distance. As you swerve from one side of the road to another in a frenzied bid to overtake, the sound of the air really makes you feel that you're actually in the driver's seat.

The background noise also changes in the sense that it reflects your surroundings. When you enter a tunnel you can hear the echoes of the throaty car sounds rebounding from the enclosed walls, while passing a waterfall surrounds you with the roar of a falling river plummeting 100 feet to it's watery grave.
The background music is a sort of thumping, techno music that really gets you into the racing mood. There is also an in-built music player that lets you sample all the tracks as you watch cars whizzing past you.

Playability

Rage Racer offers two modes of gameplay. Attempt to set new lap records using Time Trial Mode or embark on a Grand Prix. Selecting the latter will launch you on the road to become the ultimate racer, the Rage Racer, while T.T. may also be useful as a test circuit for a new or upgraded motor.

There are 12 vehicles to choose from - eventually, but you must begin by racing a Gnade Esperanze- Grade 1 on the opening circuit Mythical Coast. You are allowed to customize your car by selecting manual or automatic transmission while the tyre traction can be increased five fold.

3-2-1- GO!

The most noticeable difference from Ridge Racer is the presence of steep inclines and falls that give the feeling of a Roller Coaster ride. Keeping up top speed is imperative and non more so than the second corner of the race. Clip that corner and it will be a time consuming drag to the top of the hill, while a full speed power slide will catapult you to the summit and knock seconds off your lap times. At last we have a racing game where the use of manual transmission will be richly rewarded as an error can be quickly corrected by dropping down a couple of gears and upping those revs.

Complete the first race within the top three positions and you are awarded credits. The higher you finish, the more credits awarded. These credits are used to purchase alternate vehicles which perform in a similar way to the cars that were available in Ridge Racer:- good handling, great acceleration and high top speed. They range from a nippy Mini 'Abeille' to super slick 'Assoluto' dream machines.

Once the first group of three races are complete you will move up to the Group 2 classification. To enable you to compete against the faster opponents you may decide whether to cash in your credits for a different vehicle or visit the engineer shop to tune up your existing motor. You have a choice of cars from four different manufacturers. Each of the manufacturers, with the exception of the first one, has a selection of models. Most of the more powerful variants only support manual transmission adding to the realism of the game (does any real life racer use automatic?), therefore if you wish to try out all on offer then practice with the gears is imperative (which is where the T.T. mode comes in really handy).

There are only three courses to choose from but if you persevere you will discover the oval track which is designed for high speeds, and I mean high speeds. If you become bored of the four tracks then Mirror mode is also available, which in effect doubles up the number of track available.

Computer AI has also improved in the sense that you opponents will now relentlessly race to further their own placing instead of just letting you pass them.

You'll clamour for more as you race again and again just to earn enough money to purchase your dream car before finding out that you'll need to upgrade it in order to kick some serious butt. It may be slow in the starting but once you earn enough credits to purchase the mini, the speed really starts to kick in. Come class 4 or higher and you'll find out the real meaning of speed as you race at almost 300mph on the oval track which is an exhilarating experience.

For some reason Namco have removed the link cable option within the game, I guess it must push the PSX to the limits. Its still a shame to see it left out of the game options, as it would add the final touch to a brilliant game.

Value for Money

As in the previous versions of this game, its very easy to pick up and play this game, but will require some serious skill to if you are to go all the way in this one. If you're only prepared to use the automatic transmission cars then you will never get the most out of the game due to the fact that the more powerful car variants only have manual transmission. An excellent buy.

Opinion

MARTIN

GRAPHICS:

Good

When I first picked up Rage Racer I was disappointed at the speed of the vehicles. Sure the graphics were cool, the engine sounds were gritty and the music was suitable. But by the time I reached the Grade 4 Oval the speed had reached head splitting proportions. If it's speed your after and you've got the balls, then go for Rage Racer Grade 5, one of the fastest arcade racers in town.

SOUND:

Good

PLAYABILITY:

Brilliant

VALUE:

Good

OVERALL
9/10

SOO

GRAPHICS:

Good

The best racing game currently available for any console. This one should make you automatically reach out and grab it from store shelves without even taking a glance at it. What this game is missing is the availability of automatic transmission for the later car models and a 2 player split screen-link option. Overall, this is a great game that you should get regardless of the cost.

SOUND:

Good

PLAYABILITY:

Brilliant

VALUE:

Good

OVERALL
9/10

JIM

GRAPHICS:

Good

Like everyone else who has played Namcos racers, I wish there were more tracks. Look at Formula 1, 17 different tracks!
Having said that, if its an arcade quality racer that you are after, then this stands alone way out in front of the competition. The combination of the perfect "Feel" the car has, combined with the awesome speed of later levels makes this an easy choice for arcade racing fans.

SOUND:

Good

PLAYABILITY:

Brilliant

VALUE:

Good

OVERALL
8.5/10

TOM

GRAPHICS:

Brilliant

An incredible arcade racer with some of the best graphics to be found in any Playstation game. The feeling of speed is captured very well (just think of WipEout XL and you start to get the picture). My complaints on this game are few, but here they are: -Only three tracks (not counting the oval)...even in mirror mode, you only come out with six. Definitely more tracks should have been added to beef up replay value. -A two player mode would have been nice...again, it would add to the replay value. -More realistic collision detection...but hey, it is an arcade racer so this complaint can really pass... Those drawbacks aside, this game is it for an arcade screamer...get in your car, stomp on the accelerator and rage race to your nearest Playstation store now!

SOUND:

Good

PLAYABILITY:

Brilliant

VALUE:

Good

OVERALL
9/10