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by EA Games

sshot-01-01.jpg (4050 bytes)I love it when a great game comes out of nowhere. It seems like the only race games we’ve been hearing about for the PS2 are Super Bombad Racing (a game for which I had a hard time building any level of enthusiasm) and Gran Turismo 3. Then, out of nowhere, comes EA’s Rumble Racing with its combination kart racing and stunt driving gameplay to totally readjust what you can expect from a racing game. Simply put, Rumble Racing is the most fun I’ve had on the PS2 since SSX.

sshot-02-01.jpg (7047 bytes)If you’re looking for deep gameplay or really strong character motivation you won’t find it here. This is an arcade racer—plain and simple. In fact, Rumble Racing is the closet thing you’ll find to a kart racer without a hint of cute furry animals. The racing is fast and furious (isn’t that a movie coming out soon?), and you will be sucked in to the game from the moment you set it in the PS2 tray. The controls are simple to master, and the trick system is basic, but like most great games it takes a little time to learn your way around.

sshot-03-01.jpg (5731 bytes)The tracks are huge with a lot of nice detail. It takes some work to get to know the turns and layout of the tracks and even more work to find all of the shortcuts. The only complaint I have is that most of the tracks felt a little flat. I was hoping for just a little more of a San Francisco Rush feel with all of the jumps in the game. I wanted jumps that felt more like Superman, and Rumble Racing delivers more on a Dukes of Hazard level. Again, this is a minor complaint. There is a lot of nice detail throughout the tracks. I especially liked the river rats that scurried across the tracks in the wharf section, and the shortcuts alone are worth the price of admission.

sshot-04-01.jpg (5721 bytes)This is a game that you will be playing over and over again just to unlock all of the cars and tracks. Rumble Racing wisely doesn’t give you very much to start out with. This game makes you work for your rewards. There are tons of cars that can be unlocked through competition, and you can also find some vehicles hidden in the form of Easter Eggs on the tracks. There are vehicles for everyone from the testosterone-fueled muscle cars to Grandpa and Grandma’s Winnebago. As my family has grown I’ve been trying hard to resist the pull of the mini-van, but after doing a couple of laps and barrel rolls with the suburban, I have to admit it doesn’t seem like it’s that bad of a prospect. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Rumble Racing has even made Mini-Vans seem cool. The game does lack a customizing function for those who like to tweak with appearances or handling (more of the kart racer influence), but there are so many vehicles to choose from, you don’t really notice it.

sshot-05-01.jpg (4585 bytes)My main complaint with the game (and it is nitpicking) is how the other racers slow down and wait for you if you fall too far behind. During a couple of races I just decided to look around the tracks for shortcuts and I noticed that the other cars were going at a snail’s pace. It doesn’t really affect gameplay, but I was mildly insulted that the other drivers had such contempt for my racing ability that they would taunt me by driving as if they were in a school zone.

sshot-06-01.jpg (6950 bytes)Rumble Racing starts out easy enough, and initially you may worry that you’ll play through the game in no time. But as you start to win a few tournaments it slowly gets harder and harder. It gets to the point that you need the shortcuts just to keep up. The game has a nice look to it. It doesn’t show off the PS2’s abilities in terms of detail, but the speed of the game makes up for it all. Rumble Racing is so fast that you don’t have time to stop and notice how nicely the roses are rendered. It’s not that the game doesn’t look great, it does. It’s just not going to blow you away.

sshot-18-01.jpg (7488 bytes)Where the game lacks in track design, it really hits a home run with the addition of the stunt option. Using the left and right trigger buttons you can pull off stunts for extra speed boosts. It works like a paired down version of pulling stunts in SSX. The designers where careful to keep it from taking over the game. It’s a really nice addition that just adds to the whole of the game. The power boosts that you earn with stunts become increasingly important as the game progresses.

sshot-17-01.jpg (5555 bytes)I can’t believe that I’ve gotten this far into the review and haven’t even mentioned the power ups. Most of the power ups are fairly standard kart racing fare: oil spill, bomb, super traction and speed boost. But Rumble Racing has the single best power up I’ve seen in any game—the tornado. The first time I triggered it was buy accident. The skies went dark and sooner than you could say "Ruby Slippers" a massive funnel fell from the sky and started tearing up everything in its wake. Seeing the tornado that first time was akin to the feeling I had watching Twister when it came out. I was in awe.

sshot-15-01.jpg (6027 bytes)As expected, the game sports a two player mode that runs at a really nice clip. There’s also a challenge and stunt modes for a little variety. What complaints I have about the game are minor and none of them would keep me from recommending the game without reservation (not even the really annoying commentator). This is a great game. Could it be any better? Probably. Could it be any more fun? I doubt it. EA has essentially doubled the number of must have games for the PS2 (the other being SSX). Popping this game into my PS2 was one of the nicest surprises of the season. Rumble Racing has something here for fans of any racing genre.

Jason Frank


Ups: Great gameplay; cool stunts; lots of vehicles; really, really fun.

Downs: Needs bigger jumps.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation 2


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