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Metropolis Street Racer 

  When it was released, Metropolis Street Racer was one of the most anticipated games of the year by Dreamcast owners and many gamers alike. The game was to take the racing genre up to a new level of realism. 

  With more than 250 (yes 250!) tracks available to race on (each to be unlocked as you play through the game), more than 50 perfectly detailed cars and one of the most “realistic” game soundtracks ever, this game was made to rock.  

  The 250 tracks are based across three cities, London, Tokyo and San Francisco. Bizarre creations, the game’s publisher, took a large segment of each city and mapped them perfectly to the game. Using the help of actual city blue prints, they ensured they had every tree, fence, and nook and cranny that was to be in the area.

  This is something that had not been done to this extent in any other game. Some games claimed to have detailed replicas of cities, (a la San Francisco Rush, Rush 2 and Super Runabout-to, name a few) but none of them had been able to master the attention to detail that Bizarre Creations had done with this game.

  With the amount of real cars, the game was to be big. Yes, I know that Gran Turismo has about 300 and Gran 2 has 500 cars.  But they only have 20 tracks or so (don’t quote me on this- as I haven’t played the games much). This means that instead of buying 300 cars and racing them on the same tracks over and over again, (which does get boring) you will earn new cars, which becomes harder as you get through the game, and race them on new and refreshing untouched ground.

  The game incorporates the idea of respect among racers, or “Kudos” in the form of points.  The points are earned by winning races and how well you drive to win the races.  At the start of the race you are given a completion target- say come 3rd place- if you pass the challenge then you will be granted points.  But points are taken from you if you drive badly- by hitting walls or opponents, you will lose points- which are deducted from your tally at the end of the race.  Also extra points can be earned, but driving with style- like power sliding corners and using the handbrake to take a 90 degree turn (without hitting the walls) – this helps to reach new levels.  To open up races, you need a certain amount of Kudos.

  The races are split up into classes or chapters- 10 races within each.  The classes are determined by how good you are and how many Kudos points you have. You start off on Training, a hundred races later and you’ll be on Progressing, another hundred and you’ll be Renowned.

  There are several race types throughout the game, so you don’t get too bored with just normal racing.  When you start off, you will have very few normal races to compete in. You start off with Hot Lap races, where you are given a set amount of laps and an average time to complete them in. Each lap is recorded and the average time is taken. 

  There is Timed Run where you are given a time to complete a number of rounds (races) in, exceeding the time limit means failure.

  Challenge is where you are given a time limit to try and over take as many cars as possible- this is one of my favourites; a real joy to do. 

  One on One is just as it says. Race against one other opponent, over so many laps, come first to earn the respect.  

  At the end of each Chapter there is always a Championship race.  This is where you race against several opponents over a few races.  You are given race points, as well as Kudos points, depending on your ranking.  The points are added up to give you a final score, which results in your overall Championship ranking.

  To earn new cars you need to fully complete a chapter, awarding you with a pleasant surprise.

Graphics

 For it’s time and still today, I never fail to be impressed by the sight that is held before me, however Dreamcast graphics still haven’t been bettered for me, a lot of modern games on other consoles, (e.g. PS2, and Gamecube), aren’t as realistic. And, in my opinion, the Xbox- while very impressive- hasn’t shown any real advancement over the Dreamcast.

  The cars and tracks look so real.  When you first turn the game on, the opening sequence shown before you is the advert that they originally had for the game.  It shows footage of a man driving through London, St. James Park, in the Vauxhall VX220 (Opel Speedster), which then cuts into game footage of the same car driving through London.  This shows the true realism of the game, at first look, you are just watching an FMV sequence like with all games these days, but no.  These are the in game graphics, this is what you will be playing in a matter of seconds. 

  By today’s standards, it is easier to notice the difference between the FMV and in game footage, but only if you play games- my mother and brother were both forced to sit and watch the opening sequence, and they refused to believe that they were watching in game graphics.  “No look, you can see him change gear and he’s steering properly, this is just a video”.  No that’s the game, yes he (the driver) does change gear (clearly seen through the rear window of your car when racing-unless if you tint the windows of your chosen vehicle) and yes you can see him running the wheel through his little, computer-generated hands.

  The cities are mapped perfectly- although I have never been to San Francisco or Tokyo, I have been around London and the parts I’ve been to are so recognizable that they even have the real building names and most shops are correctly named (unfortunately some companies would not allow their franchise to be horrifically advertised, for free, in one of the best racing games ever made- fools).  But go to Leicester Square and you can see the little stickers in the ‘Capital FM’ café- brilliant.

  Detail is not lacking in this game at all.  The trees look like trees, not just 2D sprites made to look 3D, the roads are like roads- not just one smooth texture, multiple textures- gravel, tarmac, high grip road surfaces- just as they are meant to be.  The cars look just like the real things, no grainy graphics, no huge jagged edges that appear in other games (*cough* Ridge Racer 5 *cough*), all crisp all smooth.

  The only thing I can really see lacking in the game is damage, the cars do not get damaged. 

  Now this is most likely because the companies do not wish to see their beloved cars ruined by some adolescent teen trying to take a 90-degree turn at 100 Mph.  It may sound silly- as its only a game, but car companies have been known to say this- as with San Francisco Rush on the N64, Midway wanted the game to have crashes and explosions, which is part of the reason why they couldn’t get any car licenses – so they decided to have cars that look similar to real cars, like the Dodge Viper or VW Camper Van, which does work well and it is fun driving along, car dented to the max, another slight bump in to a wall could see you racing days go up in a blaze of glory.  But then again, while denting replicas is fun, driving an Audi TT Roadster through the mean streets of Tokyo at 1:00 in the morning has a certain appeal to it.

 

Gameplay

  Graphics weren’t the only thing that had great attention when they were making the game.  The gameplay is finely tuned, the cars handle realistically, on all weather conditions, the speeds that you get up to are not over estimated, you won’t find your self accelerating to 300 Mph on a 20 metre stretch of road, take a corner at 150 Mph and then zoom off into the distance at your top speed of 400Mph.  You go at the cars accessible speeds, you have to brake for corners (well you don’t have to, unless you want to hit the wall and lose the race on the last corner). 

  The Kudos system works well.  There were some ‘dodgy’ copies of the game when it was first released, where the Kudos system didn’t work properly, but they re-released the game, fixing the problem. Although my version is one of the originals, I have not noticed any flaw in the points system.  The respect points do make the game different from others in the racing genre, it makes you want to drive well, complete a race without any fouls and you gain extra Kudos points.

  The game is very easy to pick up and play, harder to put down, unless your bladder starts complaining.

Presentation

 

  The game was solidly made, an impressive opening, easy to use, quick loading menus.  There is no waiting around for the start of the races, tap ‘A’ a few times and you’ll soon be watching as the camera flies around the city, giving you a decent preview of the level-whilst showing the effort in attention detail that Bizarre Creations put into making MSR.

  The sounds in the game are just right.  Engine sounds are lovely, good tire screeches as you start to accelerate at the start of the race.  Pass between several buildings and you can hear the sounds of your car being rebounded off the buildings and the wind rushing past.    The in-game music is very good.  They have used a similar idea to the Grand Theft Auto games and given you a choice of Radio Stations.  There are three to choose from in each city, all giving very different types of music.  Go to London and you can listen to the soft ‘Indy-style’ melodies of ‘Soulford Keys’ (not sure on the spelling- as it is a made up band- I think), go to Japan and listen to the radio presenter say something in Japanese, recognising a few English words, then he introduces ‘Club Paris’ (my favourite track from Japan), go to San Francisco and listen to some good ol’ country and western music.  Or if you only like a few tunes you can create a custom cd that allows you to listen to the songs that you like- or you can just stop the music all together.  But it’s always fun when your cruising up to the gates of Buckingham Palace, when a Tango advert is played for the first time.

Also when listening to the radio and you go under a tunnel- you will lose the signal, just like in real life, not incredibly hard to program I’m sure, but a nice touch all the same.

  Another great feature of the Dreamcast is that it uses multitasking and makes you aware of it.  After completing a race, the game automatically saves.  But you don’t need to wait around while it saves. You can go through the menus, to the next race- loading while it saves with out any worries.

Replay Value

 

  The game offers a good degree of difficulty- you won’t find yourself struggling at the beginning with a crappy car and then winning every race at the end, because you have the best car in the game.  The difficulty steadily rises, you find that some races are very easy, but then you’ll get to a new level and realize that it is time to upgrade your car to a better model.

  But once you have completed the game there isn’t really much need to start the game again. Although it can be fun trying to make the game harder for yourself.  At the start of every race they give you the ‘win conditions’ e.g.- complete the race in less than three minutes and gaining more than 200 Kudos points.  You can change the conditions to make it harder- so it will say; complete the race in under 1:00 min gaining over 200 Kudos points. Now you will have to drive twice as fast, while driving safely enough to keep your Kudos points up.

  There are also a few bonus cars that can be unlocked, by completing special races.  Such as three different Taxis (one for each city) or a go-kart powered by a lawn mower engine- hard to control, but good fun.

Worth Buying Now?

  Definitely.  This is one of the few games that I would gladly pay £30 for today, even though I have completed it. 

  The graphics haven’t been degraded to any extent by today’s standards- yes games like Gotham Project Racing (MSR’s spin off game) does look better- but only really in the cars, they are shinier and there is damage and they have real songs- but I would say that that is an inferior game.  While in essence it is the same as MSR, the gameplay and game layout has changed. It just wasn’t as fun to play as MSR is.  So if you own an Xbox and a Dreamcast and you are unsure of what to get, I would suggest that you pick up a second-hand copy of MSR, try it out, if you enjoy it then I would consider buying Project Gotham or vice versa.  I’d like to point out that I bought Project Gotham Racing, and while it was a solid enough game- I just found that I did not enjoy it as much as MSR and took it back a few days later.

  But by racing games today, with such a wide variety, if you want a decent, realistic racing game that doesn’t depreciate in quality, then this is the one to get- even if you own other consoles with more modern games, as I can guarantee that this is worth every penny.  But if you like the more “exotic” unrealistic games, such as the Rush trilogy, then you’re probably better off buying games like Speed Devils or Gran Turismo (joke).

 

Summary

  A top quality racing simulation that is still as impressive and enjoyable today as it was when it was first released.

Graphics: 9

Gameplay: 9

Presentation: 10

Replay Value: 8

Worth Buying Now? 10

Overall: 9

~G~

In Metropolis Street Racer, there are more than 50 cars and 250 tracks! If that doesn't do it for you, then go and get some Viagra!

 

If you know how to race in style, you will be rewarded with Kudos points which will let you earn more cars and tracks.