Driving Emotion Type-S
Review of Driving Emotion Type-S
Once again I will jump into a review stating emphatically that I LOVE racing/driving games. Besides a good RPG to curl up with, I can think of no better way to whittle away my spare time than with a good racer. Along comes Driving Emotion Type-S from Square no less. Promising a stable of sweat rides, I was anxious to get my hands on the US version (having already struggled through the Jap game) to see if the control issues that plagued the import version had been addressed. Much to my surprise (and slight disappointment) the car handling has been somewhat tweaked right out of the box…but more on that in a moment.
Type-S jumps right out of the chute with a great company backing it (Square no less) and a bevy of beautiful cars and tracks to race them on. Climbing into the game you will be initially greeted with a language request. Seems you can select to play the game in virtually any of the worlds most popular languages (English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Italian, etc.). Once done with that, its down to the business of deciding which mode of gameplay to begin with. You can choose from Arcade Type-S, Line Training, vs. and Time Attack modes. I suggest the training mode first to get used to the car handling and also to get a feel for developing a proper racing line to more easily negotiate the courses.
Arcade Type-S mode though is the true meat of the game here and trust me, the word Arcade should really not be placed in the title of this selection. As you will soon discover, the driving mechanics of Driving Emotion Type-S are about as far removed from an arcade racer as you are likely to find. The game leans heavily in the general direction of a sim style racer with a decent amount of car configuration options (nothing too elaborate, but functional stuff non-the-less) and less than forgiving handling. Once you select this mode you will get a chance to pick out your first automobile. The game will start you off with only four selection, two Toyotas (the new Celica and MR2), a Mazda Miata and a Honda Civic Type-R.; all in the Division C category (there are four Divisions in total). If you want to take my advice you will chose the Honda. It is certainly the least sexy car of the bunch but it gets the job done with the best HP to weight ratio of the pack. From here you can choose to set up the brakes, suspension, stabilizers and gear ratios for your ride. Other selections include car color (you have full control over the color spectrum), wheel type manual, automatic and normal or simulation handling characteristics. Pick normal…
Once done you select the track to race on. The initial offering consists of two beginner courses, two circuit tracks and an all-new track for the US release called West Coast. Courses are sliced up into ranks with rank D, Division 3 being the easiest and rank A, Division GT being the most difficult. As you win races and progress additional cars from other divisions will be opened for you as well as new courses. I really liked the way the layout worked in this game and the amount of tracks and divisions within each track really give the game a lot of replay value. Some of the later cars that you can unlock are truly mechanical marvels such as various Porches and Ferraris.
Now we approach the actual driving portion of the game…and get ready because it will initially turn you off. Even though the steering has been tightened considerably from the import version, Type-S has still got some serious control issues. When you first start racing your car will feel like it is responding in slow motion. I also got the distinct impression that I was driving on a bed of ice throughout the first race…wait it gets worse. If you scrape a sidewall or railing or go off the course and hit some dirt or gravel you may as well forget about it…youre screwed. Doing any of these things at a considerable speed (say 40 mph or above) will have your car careening hopelessly from side to side and will pretty much spell the end of your hopes for victory. Patience in this game though does have its rewards. The more powerful and exotic cars that you begin to unlock will handle noticeably better than the ones you are given to start out with. Also, here is a little hint…Under the options menu go to the Button Config screen. At the very bottom you will notice a Settings option. Once in there you will be able to tweak the steering response to make control of your car infinitely more manageable. Now you can really settle in and begin to enjoy all that this game has to offer…which is quite a lot.
Once you become fluent with the game and begin to delve deeper into the cars and tracks you will finally begin to get rewarded with the GT mode. Here the cars are totally tricked out and dressed up in their best racing outfits. OF course there is a drawback…the handling starts to go back down the tubes again but mostly because the cars are so sensitive and the sense of speed being much greater.
The races are pretty involved and the opponent AI is solid and rather unforgiving. You can see other cars making mistakes (rarely), trying to cut you off, and taking the best line to victory. The courses are all pretty good and the addition of the West Coast track is just icing on the cake. I found the game, once I gave it the proper time and effort, to be very rewarding and a great time to boot. I got a real charge out of driving some of the more unique cars around and noticed they all handled VERY differently from one another.
Besides the steep learning curve on the cars, the only other real drawback that annoyed me with this game was the long load times for the initial races. Waiting 30 seconds for the other 5 cars plus yours to load and then display the track is not uncommon…and pretty much unforgivable in my book. Where the hell is that hard drive add-on!
The game also looks really nice. After seeing what Square has been able to do on one of their initial PS2 efforts I now have high hopes for FFX and future titles from their development teams.
The cars models are very nicely done and include specular lighting elements, reflected surroundings on the car (no real time reflection mapping though - sigh) and a kick-ass interior view. The inside view contain a very detailed dash board that is specific to each car with working interior lights and gauges as well as a pair of arms and gloved hands wrapped around the steering wheel. This is truly the view of choice for real driving enthusiasts. Hell, if you look closely you can even see the drivers face lightly reflected off of the front windshield.
While there is some aliasing in the game, the whole image has a somewhat diffused appearance. Its hard to explain because things are definitely distinguishably and sharp but its almost like looking at your screen through a sheet of saran wrap with the night races having this effect slightly more than the daytime ones. Overall though image quality is good and the tracks are loaded with lots of fine details. The night races are especially spectacular with glowing neon signs, fireworks going off in the background and awesome headlight effects.
The special effects are good too, with sparks shooting off the cars metal side panels as you scrape a guardrail and dust kicking up when you hit a patch of dirt or gravel. There is even a wonderful effect in one of the earlier tracks (Providence) where you can witness (and drive through) water vapor raising up from a nearby waterfall…complete with a rainbow of course While I wouldnt say the PS2 is working overtime to produce these visuals we are at least finally starting to get a peek into what lies in store for this little black beast.
The sound effects are another area that gets rather high marks in Type-S. The cars sounds all seem to have been appropriately digitized to mimic their real-life counterparts, including that wonderfully throaty growl of the Ferrari. Even changing camera views will have an effect on the cars sound. From the inside view you can hear the exhaust grumbling load and low while the outside view will shift the sound to a slightly higher and less dominating pitch.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Driving Emotion Type-S' 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 Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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