Rage Racer (PlayStation) review
"Rage Racer stands out as one of the PlayStationís games released in its early years, and is a slight spin-off to the Ridge Racer series, changing elements of what made it the arcade racer to be a tad more realistic, with darker colour schemes on the cars and tracks and looks more realistic overall. "
Rage Racer stands out as one of the PlayStationís games released in its early years, and is a slight spin-off to the Ridge Racer series, changing elements of what made it the arcade racer to be a tad more realistic, with darker colour schemes on the cars and tracks and looks more realistic overall.
Rage Racerís options are straightforward and down to the point, have a crack at the time-trial or engage in the rather extensive Grand Prix mode. The Grand Prix consists of five classes, and success in them rewards you with more classes with noticeable differences in the tracks. You start off at the bottom with a rather primitive jack-of-all-trades car, but winning races allows you to upgrade your car, or buy a new car altogether. Success in one class, by winning bronze in all the races of that class allows you to move up to the next class, but moving up the class ranks means you have to upgrade your car to stand a chance of winning.
The cars in Rage Racer are considerably varied themselves, your car at the start is pretty much even attribute-wise (albeit with lower grip) and usually stays like that when you upgrade the car. When you progress through the game, you have to identify your style of driving and buy a car that suits it. Lizard cars for instance have superior acceleration and has an enormous advantage when going up hills and getting back on track after a hefty crash, the French Age line supply cars with top-handling which is essential for U-turns and tight corners while Assoluto cars are unstoppable for top-speed performance on straights but has a disadvantage when taking the turns and twists on tracks. Upgrading cars often highlights the differences of the existing attributes, so itís essential to have a nice combination of cars for the different tracks on offer.
Rage Racer has no fewer than four tracks, the first three including a ride along the coast and through Greek ruins, the second is an uphill mayhem through a city then up twisty mountain roads and the third involves cruising by the lake. The fourth track is completely different to the first three, the infamous extreme oval track which requires nothing but pure speed in your inventory, winning gives you lots of prize money, but a substandard amount if you finish 2nd or 3rd, as itís just not good enough, and the track is not unlockable until class 3. The tracks are varied very well, but display similarities you wonít be getting away from, as all include nasty U-turns anyway and plenty of twists, there isnít a substantial difference in terms of the way you have to drive through the tracks, only really in the length and the scenery.
Rage Racer isnít by any circumstances an easy game to beat, and is in fact far from it, and will take quite a bit of getting used to until those bronze and silver finishes start rolling in, let alone the gold. You start in 12th place and takes some time to get to the front of the pack, some cars you pass disappear into the abyss (until you lap them) but others that you overtake, no matter what you do, always make a reoccurrence later in the race, always on your tail not far behind you and sneak up for the overtaking when you hit that corner. While RR provides some frantic action, the physics seems okay until you hit the back of car and to find that you have just sent your opponent a good 50 metres forward, youíve slowed down horribly and youíve just cost yourself a place. Often this can work to your advantage and you can position yourself in front of a rival to give you a quick boost but also fails. Letís be honest, if someone got hit in the back when driving, youíll be sending them into a crumple, not blasting them off a few dozen metres forward.
Aside from that annoying collision problem in RR there really isnít anything wrong with it on the gameplay front. The cars can be customised to a sufficient degree, such as the colour of your car, the tyre grip down to your own logo with one that you can choose or design your own pixel by pixel which is rather cool. It would have been nice to have more tracks in the game, but oddly the game doesnít feel that tedious, really because youíre focusing your wits on speed and winning to really gaze at the scenery and does have a strong try again factor
The visuals in RR are well-accomplished and are perfectly functional today, with nice detailed textures and great shading. The environments are darker and more realistic than on the classic Ridge racer games while thereís extensive use of the times of day the races occur, certain races occur in broad daylight while some are in the night-light and even changes during the race. The only real criticism is that the graphics do look jagged and the cars themselves are very matt and the shade of colour doesnít suit the cars appropriately. The music is also credible enough, with 10 tracks of up-beat trance tunes that compliment the racing effectively and well, plus thereís various cut-scenes used in the game, found in the introduction and class transitions and the end, which look the part although not really adding much to the experience.
Although RR doesnít provide a plethora of options in terms of modes, itís really arcade racing, it does take time to complete. It took me a good 4 hours to even skim the main part of the game, thatís getting bronzes for finishes and never even tried the bonus modes, but to complete it fully would take longer, especially when you essentially have to perfect the tracks to win in some cases. The only real criticism is a lack of 2-player, it wouldíve been great to play against one friend at least, considering how frantic this game is, let alone 4-player. Realistically though, to complete RR fully would be tedious hen racing around the same tracks for hours on end.
Rage Racer is an accomplished attempt to change the Ridge Racer style and is a fun game to play. It isnít a classic, thereís plenty of better racer out there but is still good fun nonetheless and feels rewarding. While it hasnít aged as well as other PlayStation games out there, itís still worth picking up on the cheap if you find it. You just have to keep your cool in this game, unlike what the name of the game suggests! 7/10
Community review by bigcj34 (August 28, 2007)
Cormac Murray is a freelance contributor for HG and is a fanboy of Sega and older Sony consoles. For modern games though he pledges allegiance to the PC Master Race, by virtue of a MacBook running Windows.
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