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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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).
A top quality racing simulation that is still as impressive and
enjoyable today as it was when it was first released.
Buying Now? 10
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.