Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero
|a game by||Crave|
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review|
|Rate this game:|
With the release of Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero the continuation of its Tokyo Xtreme Racer series, Crave now brings its unique Japanese-style street racing game to the PlayStation 2. This is a world where speed is king -- there are no grandstands and no checkered flag, just two drivers and the road. Winning isn't about the trophies, it's about the rush and the bragging rights.
Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero brings over 100 miles of Tokyo freeway to life at up to 200 miles an hour. With 400 opponents, each with their unique car and racing style, there's plenty of action here to keep you occupied, and as you gain victories you can use your winnings to tune and customize your car with over 125 parts, paint jobs, and stickers.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
At its most basic, Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero looks a lot like many other titles on the market. You're racing against a single opponent through the traffic laden highways of Tokyo, but the real difference is in how you win. There are no preset start and finish lines here -- instead the game uses a "Speed Point" system of scoring to determine the winner.
Starting a race is as easy as pulling up behind an opponent and flashing your lights. Once the challenge has been accepted, the race begins. Each racer starts with a full Speed Point (SP) bar that decreases slowly when they are in second place. The further behind you fall, the faster your SP bar will drop -- when it runs out you've lost the race.
Winning is based on your driving skills to some extent, but is largelypredicated on your car's performance. When you start the game you have a limited amount of cash to purchase and equip your racing machine. To win even the early races you will need a car with solid performance -- most of the cars you can afford just won't cut it coming out of the showroom. This is where the garage comes in.
Every detail on your car, from the gearing ratios and cam size in the engine to the exhaust system and chassis are upgradeable. A huge amount of attention to detail is evident in the tune up selections -- rather than having a general engine "upgrade" that always makes the car better the more you spend, you must find a balance between the parts and upgrades you select. Slapping a cool looking exhaust system behind a stock engine will give almost no performance enhancement, but put that same system on a car that's equipped with a finely tunes turbo engine and you'll see a big difference. Learning how the parts interact to affect overall performance will be the key to winning against the top-end opponents.
The biggest problem I had with the game was in the responses to collisions. You do get cool effects like sparks flying when scraping against some walls, but even then there are no repercussions. The cars take absolutely no damage from anything in the game -- no tire blowouts while scraping a wall, no scratches on the paint, no dented fenders. All that a collision does is slow you down, although usually not by much. I had cases where a full-speed head-on collision with a wall didn't even slow me enough to cause me to lose the race. With all the cash you have to spend on tricking out your cars, the lack of a need to repair damage after racing blew a big hole in the realism for me.
I also found the vibration effects to be pretty cheesy. The game gives as much effect for going over a seam in the concrete as it does for bumping other cars or slamming into walls at top speed. Often I wouldn't get any vibration at all in cases where I should. After playing through a dozen or so races I shut off the effects -- they just were too annoying.
Also unimpressive is the two player racing mode. While it is fun to take on a live opponent, the game removes all non-combatant traffic from the road during head-to-head play. This takes away a lot of the challenge of dodging traffic that makes the single player game fun, leaving a race that is almost entirely decided by the vehicles and options the players have selected.
This is where Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero really shines. As stunning as the Dreamcast version of the game was, the PS2 version is even better. With more car detail (over 4000 polygons per car instead of the Dreamcast's 3000) and a super-smooth framerate, the detail is simply stunning. The game takes full advantage of the colored lighting and particle effects the PS2 is capable of to provide all the eye candy you could hope for. Add the extensive scenery detail to the detailed cars and you've got a real winner.
The game is unimpressive here -- the music tracks are well done, but gratingly repetitive. You do have to option to set your playlist from the 40 music tracks included, but I didn't find any tunes that I was willing to listen to for any length of time and shut off the music entirely in short order. Xtreme Racer doesn't come up to par for sound effects either. It does have a good variety of audio queues, but nothing that reached out and grabbed me.
Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero is a solid racing title with enough car-tweaking goodness to satisfy any tinkering junkie. The huge amount of available roadway and varied collection of opponents will keep you racing for a good long time, but if you're not a dedicated racing junkie then there's not much here to catch your attention. While pure racing fans will find Xtreme Racer more than satisfying, I'd recommend renting this one for a weekend before buying -- it's not going to be a must-have title for everyone.
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