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RE Preview (Xbox)
game: RE
posted by: Jeremy Kauffman
date posted: 09:10 AM Thu May 30th, 2002

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One thing was apparent at E3 this year: several upcoming Xbox exclusive titles are looking to threaten the PS2's \"killer aps.\" Currently in development at Infogrames is a racing sim, tentatively titled RE, which is sure to capture the attention of Gran Turismo 3 fans everywhere. Though this game was not available on the show floor, Gamesfirst! scored a meeting with RE producer Sebastien Chaudat of Infogrames Europe to give you the skinny.

The premise behind RE (this title will definitely change before release) is one of the more intriguing concepts I have seen in a racing sim. Rather than racing in order to purchase and upgrade licensed vehicles, like every other game on the market, the objective in RE is to create your own successful brand of new cars and prove them against the world's automotive leaders. The way it works is this: you begin the game with a relatively modest garage. Your employees in this garage include a research and development team, automotive technicians, a marketing strategist, and a sexy secretary. These people will provide you with a prototype car, under your specifications, that you will use to win races and gain acclaim in the industry. Once people become aware of your brand, the orders will start rolling in, first by individual consumers looking for the next hot car, then by larger parties with larger orders. At one point you may even be contacted to give a demonstration to the police, who are considering using your car for their new wave of patrol vehicles. Soon, if you play it right, you will have a full roster of clients, sponsors, and more business than you can handle. Your prototype will blossom into a full line of cars, and to that you will add new lines, and expand your garage. You will become the leader of the automotive industry.

However, the path to success cannot be traversed alone. Along with your keen business sense and driving skills, you must keep in close contact with your team of experts. Leading the R&D team is a wild-haired old techy (think Christopher Lloyd in Back To The Future) who will give you updates and advice on available technology and the progress of your line. The marketing strategist (a rather shrewish woman) will provide you with racing and promotion opportunities and keep you abreast of your financial situation. If you are not optimizing your business or development strategies, you can count on these people to set you straight. As for the secretary, well, I suppose she is there to help those in your virtual employ, though so far she seems to be mostly eye candy.

Throughout the game you are in direct competition with automotive giants from around the world. Infogrames has licensed the real brands and cars of today for you to race against. In some cases you will even get an exclusive look at future cars, such as the Dodge Viper RT10, which will not be on the market until 2003. The prototype designs for your dream cars were created by students at leading design schools around the world, and let me tell you, the cars I saw were both unique and gorgeous.

The team behind RE decided not to license authentic race tracks, however. Instead, they created each course themselves, optimizing every corner, hill, straightaway, and pass. There are several variations in track style, with some taking place in cities, in the mountains, on speedways, and in stadiums. There are over fifty courses in all. Each has its own feel and the type of track you are on will greatly affect the handling of your car.

Essentially, the automobile and racing physics are adapted from those of GT3. The cars do take visible damage, however, although it will not affect the performance of the cars. Chaudat also promised that the AI will greatly differ from that of GT3. They are very aware of the stilted way that the computer drivers perform in that game-opponents in GT3 all basically follow the same optimum line in the road, and you are just trying to beat that line. The developers of RE are promising to push the limits and create opponents who make snap judgments based on the race at hand, and mistakes.

Even though the game was in the early stages of development, it was looking phenomenal. The cars are rendered with 10,000 polygons. The drivers inside the cars are fully articulated. The backgrounds are breathtaking, with huge mountains, trees with individually rendered trunks and branches (GT3 gave us a lot of \"tree textures\" rather than individual trees), even moving billboards in the cities. At the time of the meeting there was a lot of pop-up and draw-in, and things were a bit unfinished, but that will no doubt be gone when the game is finished.

When all is said and done, there will be over thirty hours of gameplay in the sim portion of the game. There are arcade and multiplayer games added for replay value, and all 50+ tracks, as well as all of the cars (both prototype and real models) will be available to play.

We will let you know what the release title is going to be as soon it's chosen. RE is due out in late 2002/early 2003, exclusively for the Xbox. Gentlemen, start your drooling.