Top Gear Rally 2
Rally fans should know Kemco's T6R 2 has a few tricks up its sleeve, most notably a track-generation system capable of creating courses on-the-fly. The fledgling system could theoretically produce an infinite amount of roadways. In addition, 15 cars and loads of licensed parts and upgrades are included. No word if the vehicles will be licensed. This Safflre-created game is a winter '99 release.
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TGR 2 is a mixed bag of tricks. On one hand it's clearly arcade-fortified, loose and wild stuff. On the other it inspires to be sim-like by imposing lots of micro-management of the vehicles and parts. The graphics are cartoony, the physics unrealistic and the cars non-licensed, but oddly the nature of the game dictates that you drive very carefully so as not to break anything. Each car has about 14 failure-prone systems. The problem is, some of the breakdowns seem completely random. It's damned annoying to lose a time trial to a mysterious and unavoidable tire blowout. So essentially you're playing an arcade racer with sim rules. It'd be nice if it went one way or the other, be it full sim or fully arcade like its distant cousin Top Gear Overdrive. If you can overlook the schizophrenic nature of the title, it has several good points. The cars are extremely maneuverable and are easily thrown around corners in full power-slide glory...that's fun. Also, the difficulty is balanced nicely. Since each race consists of three legs, you don't actually need to beat the other cars, just their times from checkpoint to checkpoint. Multiplayer, especially four-player, suffers from some slowdown but it's still playable. Overall, Saffire (the game's new developer) did a pretty good job with Kemco's baby, still, it's nothing to get too excited about.
It's a weird one this...it's like they wanted to do an arcade racer, but also wanted to make it a bit of a 'sim' hybrid. The result isn't particularly effective as the sim elements actually drag down what could be a reasonably playable arcade-style game. The graphics are a bit odd--all of the cars look a bit too 'toy like' for my liking and in places the environments leave a little to be desired. The whole thing handles OK...but it's certainly not the best racer on N64.
The N64 needs some serious racing sims, and I mean right now! Each month, we get a handful of N64 racers that: 1) all look alike 2) all play alike 3) all suck. Top Gear Overdrive was a decent racer last year, but I hardly recognize it for what it was. It's like Saffire wanted TGR2 to be a sim, but didn't take the time to do the homework. So what we have is a game that controls like an arcade racer, with all the dressings of a sim. Not fun, not pretty, not for me.
Arcade-style gameplay in driving games is what I like. Top Gear Rally 2 plays very much like an arcade racing game. Everything about the control is arcade-style. But unlike a true arcade racer, damage is counted sim-style, and it's way too easy to damage your car. Running through license tests are pretty fun, but the mix of sim and arcade styles just does not feel right in races against the CPU. An average racer in a crowded genre.