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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Crave

Ups: Incredible graphics; lots of customization; good sensation of speed; cool 'outlaw' challenge. 

Downs:  Why no analog gas?; no multiplayer mode.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast

1st-person.jpg (3471 bytes)I am not a car person. I have never understood the mentality of the 25 year old still living at home who works full time on a garbage truck to pay for his wheels. I’ve worked with a few of these types and never had anything to talk to them about. I’ve always seen cars as a way to get from point A to point B. I have no idea what goes on under the hood of my car, and I have no real desire to figure it out either. My idea of customizing my ride is adding a cup holder. That said, I must admit to a certain perverse pleasure in creating some of the most ostentatious road grabbers of recent history. In real life I tend to go for more sedate colors, my Chevy Corsica is a nondescript green and that suits me just fine in the real world. But on the virtual streets of Tokyo I had to go with Neon green, baby. I save a nice conservative white number for when my family is watching, but when their backs are turned I let all tact and decorum fly out my speeding window.

red_car-01.jpg (3389 bytes)Not only do you get to play with the color of your car, but you also get to add wheels, rims, spoilers, bumpers, hoods, and countless other little details. The possible combinations are almost infinite. But who cares how a car looks if it doesn’t handle like it should? Besides living out white trash fantasies, I also got to experience some pretty good game play.

This game is based on a Japanese underground racing movement. At night, after the traffic has dissipated, the highways become racetracks for these extreme racers. It’s the perfect fodder for a video game and the folks at Crave don’t disappoint. You have to scour the highways for willing opponents, and when you find one, you flash your highbeams and hope they accept the challenge.

buy-car.jpg (4009 bytes)There is a Free Run mode which involves instant mini races. The mini races let you get your feet wet, but the mode that will consume your life (or at least a few weeks of it) is the Quest mode. Here you’re able to roam the highways of Tokyo for hours on end, building up victory points that go toward vehicle upgrades or even buying a new vehicle. The more races you win, the more cars you get to choose from. There is something there for everyone. The races themselves tend to be a little short, which I really like. I get tired of the countless loops around the same track that you find in many race games. You might worry that this could adversely affect replay value, but with over 300 opponents to find on the highways of Tokyo, you’re guaranteed to be playing this game for weeks on end.

red_cars-01.jpg (2713 bytes)The races are exhilarating in a way that most race games have difficulty in achieving. You really get a sense of the speed of your car without any sacrifice to the graphics quality. There is nothing more frustrating than getting rammed by an opponent into a highway divider. However, there is nothing more satisfying than doing the same to your opponent.

When you’re not racing there are hours to be spent on deciding what you want to race. The car shop menus are nicely done, but they suffer from pretty slow load times as you choose from the cars available.

blue_car-01.jpg (3909 bytes)The DC controller is nicely set up for this game. The analog triggers are used for the gas and braking. I would have liked to have seen the analog feature on the triggers taken advantage of. It would be nice to be able to ease off on the gas or lightly press on the brakes instead of the all or none feature we have with this game. The potential is there, and I don’t understand why they don’t use it. It’s a minor complaint, but one that I felt should be addressed.

The graphics, however, are astounding. The video intro uses a combination of real video footage and game footage and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. The new car sheen glares back at you for every mile of the race, and the highway lights are nicely reflected in the car’s gloss. It is a beautiful thing to behold. The backgrounds, themselves, are serviceable. There is not a lot of variety. The game takes place at night, so you can’t expect a whole lot of detail. The highways are nicely rendered, and the well-lit office buildings are a nice cultural detail. But this is a game about cars. And the cars do not disappoint.

This is a one player game. There is no on-line feature or split screen challenge. If there had been an on-line mode, this game would be perfect. I can just imagine literally cruising around the information superhighway looking for people to take on, but this game really pushes your Dreamcast and until high speed access becomes a reality I doubt that we’ll be seeing internet challenges any time soon. The two player mode would also have been nice, but the game isn’t lacking because of it.

This is the perfect game for the casual racer, but there is enough tweaking possibilities that it should satisfy many of the hardcore racers as well. This is easily one of the best race games for any console out there. Tokyo Extreme Racer 2 satisfies on all levels. And the customizability of your cars lets you embrace a tackiness just not possible in the real world. Now, if only I could customize my car with ear-numbing stereo and hydraulic hopping, my gaudiness would be complete.

--Jason Frank