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Review of Auto Modelista
Racing games are all beginning to look the same – it’s hard to be original in such a competitive market so what did Capcom come up with to differentiate Auto Modellista from all the other racers out there?
They added a huge tail fin, ground hugging front splitters, a huge rear diffuser and a chrome exhaust so big you could hide your granny in it. Yes, that’s right at long last a game where you could Max up your ride all you wanted.
Oh, they got their crayons out too – making for some cel shaded racing sequences that any anime producer would be glad to have in his show.
So first up – what is cel shading? Well I am none too technical so, simply stated, the game graphics look like that of a cartoon. You keep expecting Spiderman to swing by at any moment!
Other than that Auto Modellista is a racing game in which not only can you beef up the mechanics of your machine but you can alter the look through addition of parts changing the colours and adding a few stickers, for that mean, moody, magnificent street racer look. Then you can store your hot machine in your own custom fitted garage!
You are offered the choice of arcade (versus – where you can race your friends tricked up car, by renting it from the memory card, single race, or time attack) or garage life, the main body of the game – pick a car, win races unlock stuff, tune your car and win the championship.
So then the graphics are where we will start the review since they are the game’s biggest selling point.
Ok so it’s cel-shaded, beautifully smooth and every car is perfect in it’s reproduction – but there is just one thing – I can’t help feeling I have seen this all before – it looks like Gran Turismo on the Psone. Well I checked and although it is a reminder for that time 5 years ago believe me there is a big difference in the smoothness and graphical quality.
However its not until you get to the wet tracks that you see just how damn good this game is – yes it’s raining on the race and the cars are more like powerboats. With anything other than grooved rubber on you are not going to place well in these races – you could do win on slicks in the wet in GT3!
The wet racing is some of the most realistic available – a very refreshing change!
The game also has some nice graphical effects like the speed streaks – but thankfully you can switch these off as it makes the city driving near impossible – the streaks look just the same as the steel barriers and you can’t see the corners until it’s too late.
Next the sound – as you would expect all the cars sound different but it’s the rest of the sounds that give this game a high rating.
The tunes are all decent but none too memorable, the crazy announcer is straight out of another famous racing series and the rest of the car sounds are wonderful – lift off the throttle in any hard tuned turbo car and just listen for the bang!
The game play was a major pain for me for the first couple of hours – I always play driving games with the sticks but Auto Modellista does not allow for that so – it was back to relearning the X and Square style of years ago :(
But other than that the game provides for some realistic handling – especially in the wet races, and there is a real sense of speed – even with the effects turned off.
The auto gear box provides manual override buttons which make the racing much more fun but this gearbox isn’t without its problems –it doesn’t like down-changing at high revs (engine braking) and several times I had to quit races because I just couldn’t find a gear and I was never able to work out if it was because I hit something – and I spent ages trying to get a working theory together on this.
You race on the huge total of seven tracks – all but one (Suzuka) is reversible. However the tracks are one very boring high-speed cityscape and one not as boring but still high speed. Then there is the beautiful rain lashed city race, and two insanely twisty hill climbs. The seventh one has to be unlocked and it is the maddest of all – it is a Radio Controlled Car track. Yes – your mighty machine is transformed into a little RC car to race this track but this is only available in arcade.
The difficulty level is a bit mixed up – especially the hill climbs at level 4 – I won level 6 hill climbs with a time 15 seconds slower than that which got me 3rd at level 4. And you dont need the most brutal machine to be fast on the hill climbs – I raced a tricked out Daihatsu Move (191hp) up these and won against RX-7s etc – and the time was only 1 second slower than that of my 900+ hp Subaru. Still seems strange though.
Speaking of unlocking things – you have to unlock the parts available to modify your ride, plus stuff like trolley jacks and posters to kit out your garage – which you can have in one of 3 styles. Your garage can hold up to 30 motors, but unfortunately you can only see one in it at a time. In addition, you can unlock more cars, some very cool classic machinery and a couple of concept cars.
The only drawback with these machines is that they are all Japanese.
The reason being that this title was designed to provide online racing in Japan – but since we Europeans will be lucky to have online racing by next Christmas, this little option isn’t available to us.
Now you may have guessed that from the fact that there are only six tracks to race in the Garage Life mode that there isn’t much life in this racer – and from the point of finishing the championship you would be right – you could easily do this in one afternoon. But the game provides you with emails which teach you the best ways to drive certain types of car and how to use different techniques to improve your times. Besides there is plenty to unlock after the championship is over and many cars to tart up!
Plus there is always the VJ mode – this lets you remix your replay, adding music, sounds, effects and graphics over it whilst you record it for future plays.
This is really easy to do and is very simple using the both analogue sticks to do most of the work – shame they couldn’t have thought of that in the racing part!!
In no time you will be ready to show off work that (insert the name of any pop/rock band which uses cars in videos here) would be proud of.
The game is short, very short, but offers lots of replay value to make up for it. I mean where else can you put a HKS suspension, GReady turbo, Nitto tyres and RS*R chip into your Skyline with its Veilside front splitters, Tommy Kiara rear fin and Cwest side skirts? And then lets you make your own chase scene to music?
Now come on – how much more fast and furious do you want your racing to be?
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Auto Modelista' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Rory Kelly © Absolute PlayStation
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