Game Over Online ~ Street Racing Syndicate

GameOver Game Reviews - Street Racing Syndicate (c) Namco, Reviewed by - Jeff 'Linkphreak' Haynes

Game & Publisher Street Racing Syndicate (c) Namco
System Requirements GameCube
Overall Rating 67%
Date Published Thursday, February 3rd, 2005 at 01:26 PM


Divider Left By: Jeff 'Linkphreak' Haynes Divider Right

Curse you Vin Diesel, for two reasons: one being unleashing Paul Walker on film screens everywhere (along with Tyrese for a sequel to The Fast and The Furious); the other one for getting game studios to try to capitalize on the coolness of illegal street racing. Thanks to the success of the aforementioned movie, almost every single game publisher tried to reproduce its winning formula. Some games, while managing to capture the feeling of speed from the movie, sold out their street cred with the number of commercial plugs scattered through the game. Others tried to remain truer to the scene by focusing more on the cars themselves. Which theme does Namco's latest racer fit? Grab some cash and check your nitro, because we're getting ready to join the Street Racing Syndicate.

There are three main game types in SRS: Arcade Mode, Multiplayer and Street mode. We'll get to the other two modes a bit later, but for right now, we'll focus on the Street mode, which is the primary thrust of the game. Here, you'll start your illegal racing career thanks to a number of unforeseen coincidences. One of your friends named Eddie gets arrested for racing right before the finals of a major racing event, thereby leaving his team and his friends who bet on him out in the cold. You wind up filling in for him at the last possible second and are promised enough money to buy your own racing machine if you succeed. Needless to say, once you beat the competition, it's time for you to stake your own claim to become king of the streets.

While the story of the game is largely forgettable, the primary goal of the game remains virtually constant throughout this career feature. You'll enter your car in one of four main types of race events: Street challenges are scattered throughout the city at random places, with drivers looking for any challengers willing to take them on for a sprint through the streets. You can also take on cars cruising around for any action with Race Me signs above them in what's known as a Roll Up Race. You'll also have the option to enter Crew Meets, which comprise some of the largest races in the game. However, you're not always guaranteed that you'll have the requirements to enter these events. In this case, you may need to take on some of the Respect Races to increase your standing on the street. Regardless of what you choose, you'll spend a certain amount of time haggling for the amount of money you want to bet on the outcome of the race, because you'll need plenty of money to supplement your racing empire. The most immediate reason you'll need money, aside from repairing any damage your cars might sustain, is to purchase new machines or additional parts that you can use to tune your vehicles further. SRS is truly an import tuner's dream, with dozens of aftermarket parts that you can use to tweak and supercharge your vehicle. Since there are around fifty or so cars from major manufacturers, including Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi, you'll have ample opportunity to mess around with just about every factor of your car, from weight distribution to horsepower. You'll also be given a dyno in your personal garage to test out the performance statistics of your newly added equipment, so you can decide which parts give you the best advantage and which ones won't in a particular race.

The visuals of SRS are somewhat deceiving for a number of reasons. First of all, the car models within the game are nicely rendered, which makes driving each machine pleasing to the eye. You'll be able to notice the number of external changes you make to a stock car as you drive it to the line and take off down the road with it. So, if you're dedicated enough to spending hours getting that paint job just right on your car, you can rest assured that it'll look great taking off when the race starts. However, there's a couple of issues that detract from the presentation of the game. First of all, the overall visuals could be substantially sharper than what they are. While it's a reasonable presentation, there are some details that look like they're muddy, regardless of the day or nighttime settings. Secondly, the damage modeling is extremely light compared to the amount of money you'll spend repairing your car. Windshields and bumpers are no substitute for massive collisions or destructive impacts, although you'll swear these cars were only lightly dinged. This isn't practical in the slightest. Similarly, the sound for SRS is disappointing. While the different engine growls, shifting clicks and vehicular sound effects are decently handled, the musical presentation is so completely forgettable that you may find yourself racing most of the game with the mute button firmly pressed.

Technical aspects aside, let's quickly return to the other two modes of the game. First of all, there's the traditional Arcade mode, where you pick a race, a car and take on the computer. It's pretty much standard to other quick races. Multiplayer is somewhat more interesting than other titles thanks to the pink slip race, which allows gamers the option to wager their cars online. This adds much more of a higher stake to losing an online race, because it will rip your vehicle off your memory card if you do poorly. That aside, however, there are significant issues that harm SRS. First of all, the game feels significantly slower than just about any other racing title. Even if you hit nitrous during a race, you'll feel like you're possibly going around 60 or 70 miles an hour at the most. Considering the obscene sense of speed that other games have managed to present, SRS feels like it's mired in molasses. Speaking of speed, there's also a serious problem with the inclusion of a warp feature to shuttle you from race to race. What's the point of driving around an open ended city, or even having the inclusion of having to pay fines to police officers who chase down street racers, if you can literally jump from place to place? This is literally one of those features that could've been left out entirely.

While the ability to customize the cars in the game has now become a Street Racing genre standard, the actual manipulation of each part is handled so haphazardly that only serious gear heads will be able to fully understand the intricacies of the dyno itself. It'd be easier if there was a more definitive explanation for car newbies or a basic mode for those who don't particularly care what the parts do, but want the performance for their cars. But perhaps the most useless (and potentially insulting) feature is the ability to challenge for, acquire and stockpile girlfriends. Comprised of 18 of the most popular models on the import tuner scene, SRS gives you the option to gain the companionship of these ladies by fulfilling specific racing tasks. However, there really isn't any particular advantage to this, save the option to see these scantily clad ladies dance for you in cut scenes. If you've ever seen an import tuner video, though, you've probably seen much more of the ladies and much less in the clothing department. In short, not really enough to sell you on this title.

When it comes down to SRS and its street cred, it tries really hard to be underground and illegal, but what it actually does is so poorly handled that it's really hard to recommend for anyone outside of the most discerning gear head. A lack of tactile speed, a complicated upgrade system and a number of useless features makes SRS much more of a rental for hardcore driving fans only than a must have.

 

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Rating
67%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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