Star Wars Racer Revenge
As the Star Wars money machine gears up for a massive Episode II onslaught this spring, LucasArts will fire the opening salvo by releasing games that hope to take our minds out of Middle Earth, and back to that ancient galaxy so far, far away. One such console project is Star Wars Racer Revenge, a follow-up to the superb Episode I Racer (on N64 and DC) released in 1999.
RR takes place eight years after Anakin Skywalker served up humiliating defeat for his podracing archrival, Sebulba. Now the ugly little bastard (Sebulba, that is) is back and cruisin' for another bruisin'.
If, by looking at these screenshots, you think that podracing involves flying two massive jet engines by the seat of your Padawan jockeys at speeds of up to 600 mph, you're absolutely right. In a lot of ways. RR is essentially a beefed-up version of podracing for the PS2. That reckless sense of speed is back, along with 14 original tracks and a roster of opponents, both new and old. The play mechanics are faithful to that of the prequel, too. You turbo boost, at the risk of overheating your engines--or hit the airbrakes to powerslide around those hairpin turns. Take too much damage and you may have to slow down to repair your ride.
The biggest change to the game is the behavior of the computer drivers. No, they may not be realistic or smart, but now they're pissed. Learn to drive offensively, or you'll literally get slammed off the track. If you thought podracing was fast before, it's just plain brutal now in RR. This tweak to the formula significantly changes the flow of the race. You're constantly watching your blind spots and driving to shaft the competition. Admittedly, RR may not go out on a limb to create something totally unique, but it takes all that was great about the first game (speed and controls), and polishes the zero-g thrill ride to a glossy shine.