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It seems that game designers are running out of original concepts and so have turned their attention to digitising some of our more traditional toys. Hasbro seem to have cornered the market in updating board games, adding the ability for one player to pit their wits against a host of computer opponents and extending the life-span of traditional titles that usually spend most of their life gathering dust under the bed.
More recently we have seen the arrival of computerised versions of R.C toys. What make them such a strange choice is that you could almost consider that all racing and flying games on our console are remote controlled, due to way they are played with a joypad. However, the main difference with these games is that all of their restrictive and quirky characteristics are built INTO the game rather than ironed out.
So what we have here is a new generation of games that replace traditional gameplay with a battle to master the control of the vehicles. RC Stunt Copter failed badly in this new area, because once you finally grasped it, the actual game behind it was completely rubbish.
So lets see if RC Re-Volt can break this mould...
Sound and Vision:
I can almost hear the spotty faced, spectacle wearing, radio controlled car addict who obviously advised the developers of this game in every step of its design, telling them to ignore the graphics and spend more time on getting the cars to control just right.
If this wasn't the case, then this game has suffered at the hands of a large corporations strict release deadline, because its one of the most unfinished games that I have ever played. Don't misunderstand, the actual in-game action is all in there, but the overall presentation of the various option screens and menus is by far the worst you will ever see on our console.
The level design is fantastic, featuring realism not seen before in this genre. Unfortunately the immense level of 'pop-up' all over the place, combined with disappearing walls galore just about kill off any atmosphere created. They have tried to minimise its effect on the game by 'fogging' everything that isn't directly in front of you. Sadly the lack of game-engine power means that EVEN THIS extreme technique doesn't stop the scenery from being built up block by block, right in front of your nose.
These problems have resulted in compromises being made on the number of polygons used for the vehicles and so consequently, although you can tell them all apart, you would not describe them as detailed and sharp.
With all of these restrictions on the graphics, they would surely be expected to run at the speed of light, but no... Yet again we can almost hear the distant cries of that game advisor, insisting that the cars should not be allowed to travel any faster than their real RC counterparts, even in the interests of gameplay.
The sound is equally bland. The techno tunes are repetitive and irritating, while the in-game sounds are so sparse that they almost go ignored. The one thing that they got dead right was the distinctive tone that these cars make as they travel around each of the levels and the plastic sound they make as they smash into the scenery.
There are seven different tracks, most of which have two completely different routes designed into them. Once unlocked, they can be re-played in both reverse and mirror modes adding much to the life-span of the game.
The tracks feature a combination of flat-out straights and tight twisting turns making the decision to choose your vehicle a little more tricky, as cars range from the highly manoeuvrable 'buggy' type to the more traditional and faster 'stock-car' style, each with unique weight, acceleration and top speed. They also vary from electric to gas powered and include both front, rear and four wheel drive.
The 'Toys in the Hood' level has you racing around the streets, avoiding parked cars, taking shortcuts through open doors and across sidewalks. A small construction site has to be negotiated, forcing you to go through a dark sunken water pipe - one of the most difficult obstacles in the game.
Other tracks include the 'Supermarket' (race round a department store), 'Toytanic (revisit the famous cruise liner) and 'Ghost Town' (wild west action).
Weapons can be picked up at various points on each of the tracks and then fired at your opponents. All of them are quite childish and include bowling balls, water bombs and fireworks.
There are a host of different modes available in this game. Winning any of the four Championships on offer allows you to unlock new tracks and cars, while there are a couple of multi-player modes included that allow you to race against a friend.
The stunt arena is a great place to start if you are struggling with the handling of your car as it requires gradually more and more dexterity to reach each of the twenty pickups that are placed at the top of various jumps, loops and half-pipes.
When you are sick of the tracks provided you can dabble with the track editor and create a few of your own. There are 14 different building blocks that can be used, ranging from the regular straights and corners, to the more adventurous chicanes and crossroads. While a welcome addition, all of the blocks have barriers on their sides making the designs constrictive and nowhere nearly as playable as the imaginative tracks that have already been provided.
The control of the cars is very authentic, making this almost a simulation in its portrayal of these toys. The designers have included four different modes that effect how the cars will behave, ranging from the very forgiving 'Junior RC', to the very believable 'Simulation'.
Another area that needs some work is the A.I of the computer-controlled cars. You can almost guarantee that in every race you will encounter a car that has become stuck somewhere in the scenery and can't get out. Many times I was miles behind a car for most of the race only to pass it on the last lap due to this problem.
This is a 1 disk game for 1 or 2 Players. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the analog stick controls of the dual shock joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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