Smilebit
Sega
Action
1-4
02.26.02

Jet Set Radio Future


It's always harder to review a game that poses something new and fresh, as opposed to a game that follows a beaten path. That said, Jet Set Radio Future makes for a very tough review, as it presents one of the most unique and fresh experiences I have ever had the pleasure to take part of. Words just escape me when trying to talk about this game, well besides the general feeling of 'awesome-tacular.'

Gameplay

Let's start with the basics. Jet Set Radio Future is the sequel (more of remake, actually) to the highly acclaimed, but sadly, little known Dreamcast title Jet Grind Radio. JGR found you battling rival gangs and corporations in a fight over turf, territory, and expression. Spray painting (or 'tagging') everything in a level was your goal, all the while constantly trying to ditch the police and build your street cred amongst rival gangs. JGR became known for it's incredible atmosphere provided by it's ground breaking new graphical technique called 'cel shading,' it's free-form game play, and of course, it's extremely refreshing sound track.

Jet Set Radio Future is largely more of the same, which should be music to the ears of fans, as the original played like butter. For the Jet Set virgins in the audience, Jet Set puts you in control of one of the many rollerblade-toting members of your gang, the GGs. Getting around on your blades is surprisingly reminiscent of your basic 3D platformer, using the left analogue stick for movement and A for jumping. Yes, all of your concerns getting from one area to another are handled with one button.

Don't think of this as a flaw though, no no, this is actually what the entire game really revolves around. Using only the A button, you're able to interact with just about anything. Jumping on a rail (or almost anything else) automatically puts you into a grind, jumping into a billboard automatically makes you wall grind. Rails and billboards are strategically placed all over each level so you can literally combo from rail to rail, billboard to billboard from one end of the level to the other. This really opens up for some excellent free-form game play, letting you take on each level your own way and find all kinds of cool combos.

Now aside from the main game play, there is also a good deal of new features. Most of it is fairly simple though and is only there to flesh out the point system, and of course, make you look like the super fly stud (of a nerd) that you are. For example, you're now able to turn around and skate backwards, as well as change your stance at will while grinding. Also added to the mix, you can now perform extra mid-air tricks at the press of a button. Aside from the new 'show off' techniques, JSRF also adds a great new turbo feature (where as the original only let you get a small burst of speed every few seconds, which you can still do in JSRF). Probably the most significant new feature though is how each level is now linked together. In the original, you just picked the next level you wanted off of a map, but now you actually skate to and from each level. While it may sound more like a choir, it couldn't be further from the truth. Now the city really feels like a city, each area directly linked to the others.

Graphics

As you probably have seen, whether it be by screens, videos, or previous experience with the original, another thing Jet Set is known for is it's insane (and I mean that in a good way) graphics. Using cel shading, Smilebit (the game's creators) has literally turned 3D graphics into a virtual cartoon style-wise, that's really the easiest way to describe it. Graphically, everything in JSRF is just more refined and much bigger. HUGE levels, tons of pedestrians and cars, even more animation, everything is shot up a notch in sheer scope. JSRF easily packs the freshest graphical package of any Xbox game yet.

Sound

Speaking of fresh, the soundtrack, oh the beautiful soundtrack. The sound track can only be described as some of the best audible crack you will ever experience in all of your gaming career. What comprises the soundtrack is about 30 tracks of brilliance from a bunch of J-pop and rap artists you've likely never heard of (and plenty from the original, with remixes of original favorites tagging along). Now I won't say this sound track is better than the original's, because it's not, but is is extremely good. The soundtrack does have a more 'punk' feeling to it (not the genre of music, just a punk-like atmosphere), as opposed to the original being very J-pop filled. You'll find a good deal of rap and techno stuff in here, though certainly not without a good dose of J-pop. To tell the truth though, I would never touch a J-pop or rap album in real life, so if you don't like either genre don't let that discourage you.

Bottom Line:

All said, JSRF is an excellent experience for any Xbox owner. With outstanding game play, graphics, and sound, a fairly long quest, and some decent multi-player modes, JSRF would be a great choice for anyone looking for something new. Come join the future.

-Andy Wilson




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