Tokyo Extreme Racer Zero
Review of Tokyo Extreme Racer Zero
The legend continues…well not so much a legend really but the Tokyo racing series has been around since the old PSOne gaming days first seeing the light of day in 1996. Back then it was more of a traditional racing title that had armchair racers zipping around the streets of Tokyo, Japan while trying to out distance your opponent. The series has evolved over time and seen a few platform changes with the latest edition screeching onto the PS2.
Taking its cue from the often heard off but rarely seen underbelly of racing, TXR Zero focuses on streetcar gangs that cruise the streets always looking for a quick thrill and the opportunity to race another rival gang member.
The object in Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero is to basically cruise the busy streets of Tokyo and look for cars owned by rival street racers. Once you identify one of the thugs, you flash your high beams into their rear view mirror to signify that you wish to race them. If the Speed Racer wanna be accepts (and they normally always do) you are off to the races!
What really separates this title from a normal racing game though is the fact that there is no traditional Start or End zones identified here. You race on a totally open highway and your goal is to stay in front of your opponent…as you do that their Speed bar (SP) continually reduces. Once emptied, the race is won and you are awarded money based on your performance. Of course if they get in front of you, your bar starts shrinking and you must battle to get back out in front before it gets drained. This really adds a great deal of tension to game as players frantically try to get out and stay out in front of their opponent. I found myself almost constantly checking my rear view mirror to see where the other driver was. Of course, with a street crowded with other vehicles in front of me I often found myself chewing on some poor saps bumper. To further induce tension into the mix, there is a constant vibration (thump, thump, thump) pulsing through the Dual Shock that gets the old blood pumping.
You start the game with a chunk of cash ($15K), which you will use to purchase your first car from a choice of three classes (A, B, or C). All of the cars look like real manufacturers automobiles but since there are no licenses, the cars have fake names associated with them. The first car in my garage (you can accumulate autos) was a Type-CE9A that almost drained my account. Luckily I choose wisely and the car was instantly helping me to win some races.
Once you get some additional cash in your pocket, its time to go to the parts shop and start doing some mods to the auto. Just popping on a new exhaust/muffler jacked my HP up by 20. After adjusting the top end, suspension (you gotta by the kit), lopping off a few pounds and adding new tires I was able to significantly improve the cars top end, handling and overall response. Of course by then the races were getting tougher so the timing for the upgrades was just right.
Being rather illegal, your entire racing career takes place at night with a beautifully lit up city as the backdrop and a road full of other cars that you will need to maneuver around. This can of course work to your advantage as you occasionally have the opportunity to sideswipe or cut off your opponent and send them into the traffic.
As you defeat rival gangs, additional parts of the course is unlocked and other drivers are there to meet your challenge. There are 400 cars to race in all so the game is sure to keep players busy…until GT3 comes out that is.
TXR Zero is certainly a nice looking racing title. The car models sport rather high polygon counts (4K per car) and they all look shiny, solid and substantial. I did feel however that they had a rather stark look to them, which could possibly be from low textures or just poor art direction.
The background is a wonderfully lit up cityscape of Tokyo in the evening, complete with streetlights, building/office lights, warning lights, tunnel lights…lots of lights! Which rolls nicely into my next observation, TXR Zero is a beautifully lit game. The lighting effects are miles ahead of the Dreamcast version and leagues ahead of anything seen on the PSOne. There are wonderful blurring and trailing effects of the taillights…Crisp, subtle reflections off of the cars and smooth shadowing effects as your headlights play off the environments.
There are also nicely used particle effects for sparks flying off your car when you scrape into walls, or the flares sparkling in the night signifying a broken down vehicle (nice touch of realism). With the PS2s ultra crisp output, the game is certainly sweet to look at.
On the down side…there is no real time car damage, which I found rather disappointing. Slamming into a bridge divider at 150 mile per hours and walking away without a scratch or a ding is just unacceptable. At the very least, it should have affected the performance of the care…but it doesnt.
The sound on the other hand is rather generic and lacking somewhat I thought. The music was okay and for the most part played a background role…, which is rather surprising in a racing title. The sound effects, while decent (good car sounds, skidding, etc.) came off as sparse. For instance, when a car scrapes up against a wall or another car I expect to hear a metallic screeching sound, but these types of little extras were left out of the game. Bottom line, the sound effects and music are just fine but not as good as I expected them to be and certainly not as good as they could have been.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Tokyo Extreme Racer Zero' 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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