What with games like Gran Turismo 3 and Project Gotham on the market, anyone going for the whole Japanese-sports-car-racing-sim thing better have a hook. Capcom's solution? Give the game a cartoony look reminiscent of Jet Set Radio, but retain all the licensed cars to keep the gearheads happy. Looks freakin' cool to us. Now let's just pray the online play from the import makes it to these shores this fall.
Download Auto Modellista
You've seen 'em: those loud, modified Civics, Eclipses, RX-7S, and various other (mostly) Japanese cars that cruise the streets of your town adorned with loads of decals, colored lighting, and ridiculously huge spoilers. It's the street-racing culture. You buy a relatively cheap car, spend a few grand to up its horsepower, and decorate it to resem ble something you'd see on a racetrack. Now, you'll get to do the same, but for just $50 and the cost of your monthly Internet bill.
This type of game has been done before with the Tokyo Xtreme Racer series and other titles. So, why should you care about this one? Well, besides the Daytona-style arcadey gameplay, three things will entice you to pick up Auto Modellista--ever\ if you own every other street-racing game known to man.
Capcom knows all driving games start to look alike after a while, which is why it's used cartoon shading on the cars in Auto Modellista. The cars still look realistic, but with a definite style that assures you'll never mistake this for a different product. The effect is accentuated with speed lines and mini-explosions that occur anytime a car backfires.
The hundreds of parts, decals, and decorations you can use on your cars and garage in Auto Modellista don't cost a dime. Rather, you earn them by winning single-player races. Make no mistake-- Auto Modellista is not a simulation like Gran Turismo 3. Earning and using new cars and parts is as simple as possible in this game.
We're most excited about Auto Modellista's 2 to 8 player online support (broadband only). Let's face it: The PS2 online racing community is pretty hard up for games right now (ATV Offroad Fury 2 is starting to wear a bit thin), so getting a quality game like this, in which you not only race real people but make them jealous when you show off your customized vehicle, is just what the doctor ordered.
Auto Modellista does have a few weaknesses--in particular, it doesn't have enough tracks. But with so much else to do off the track (see sidebar) and the capability to race online, the positives far outweigh the negatives. So, grab a copy of Auto Modellista this March and look for "Sewart.
I've been looking forward to this title for quite some time. Cel-shaded, anime stylings, realistic racing feel. All of these things scream a great title to me, so I was sure that I'd be enjoying this game as soon as it came out. First, you've got to realize that this isn't just another arcade racer. The cars have amazingly responsive handling, and from the first moment you pick this title up, you'll realize just how different it is. In the same way that Gran Turismo 3 was an amazing title with heavy realism, so too is Auto Modellista.
Auto Modellista is designed to take advantage of a wheel if you've got one, and you may actually find better response with one, as the controls for a normal Dual Shock controller seems a tad sensitive. While playing without the wheel, it's difficult to handle the acceleration, braking, and steering of the car, but these cars have so much performance to spare that it shouldn't affect your ability to race a level. Much.
In addition to an amazingly cool race engine, Auto Modellista also features a garage mode, where you'll build and race a car (or rather, fleet of cars) through many races. The nifty part about this section of the game is that you can tune up your car with a multitude of different parts, all of which are actual parts from actual manufacturers. Not all are really compatible with the cars you can use them on, and not all are still produced, but they're all real.
I've only got three real complaints with the game. First, some of the interface material could use some tweaking. The mail system is clunky to use, information about each part takes a while to scroll into view, and overall, it doesn't seem quite as tweaked and clean as possible. Second, cars don't suffer damage. This is only a small annoyance, but it's still there. Since you're here to marvel at how beautiful these cars are, you shouldn't need to worry about this. Third, this game has great controls, but they're touchy. My reasoning for a low learning curve is that there's no real tutorial to teach you how to race or control the cars, but once you get used to it, they handle perfectly.
Finally, it's got online support. I'd love to gush on about it, but frankly, online support is a two-edged sword. It can be really fun, because you'll never need an opponent. However, as they warn on the box, gameplay changes online, and some people can be real #%!@#$s.
All in all, Auto Modellista does have flaws like any other title, but like any other good title, it rises far above them.