Eutechnyx
Namco
Racing
1-2
08.31.04

Street Racing Syndicate


When 3DO went under over a year ago, Namco got the rights to release this title. They still had to put time and work into the development process. How did it turn out? SRS turned out to be similar to other street racing titles like Midnight Club and Need for Speed Underground. It takes a Fast and the Furious (the movie) approach, and is all about illegal street racing.

Gameplay

In street mode, you basically build a car from scratch (start with a stock car), and when you get enough money, you buy upgrades. I am really impressed with the amount of upgrades that can be acquired. I spent a lot of time in the garage fixing up my car. I applied new stickers, paint, spoilers, etc. Performance and cosmetic upgrades are what I spent most of my time on, and I enjoyed doing it. I also loved my 19-inch rims on my Celica, as well as a nice new exhaust showing. Some things don't cost anything, like the stickers and vinyl, but everything else you'll need cash for. The amount of licensed cars is rather impressive. You can ride and fully customize over 50 licensed vehicles, including car manufacturers such as Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Nissan, and Lexus. Before a race, it's always a good idea to fill up on your turbo boosters, but when doing a crew race, you need to conserve because you'll sometimes be doing 3 races in a row. This is because you have to complete a whole series to advance. Another notable feature that you can utilize in the garage is the Dyno graph. Here, you can see underneath the hood of your car, but you can only zoom in so close to the engine. It's mainly used to test your cars performance. Not everything in the game is available at once. There are plenty of new car parts and races to make available. You also have to keep up on any necessary repairs, which can be done at the garage or at a crew race.

When you press the back button there are five main "categories," which include city locations, crew meets, respect & street challenges, and cruise zones. During regular gameplay, you can drive to each objective, but it's a lot easier to just hit the back button and "jump" to the area (garage, warehouse, race, etc). When the cops are chasing you, don't even think about jumping to a new place, because you can't. There are cops on the streets that will attempt to pull you over. In the beginning, since your car is stock, the game doesn't seem to give you a fair chance to get away and lose the cops. You'll end up getting busted without a cop ever touching you, not even once. It's not a true way of getting caught. But when you hook your car up, you'll be able to get away with no trouble. I passed a cop doing 108mph once, and he didn't care. So I guess some of the cops in the game are cool like that.

When just driving around without racing, you can perform drift moves. There are basically 3 types of drifting moves that you can do (power over, e-brake drift, and clutch kick). By doing these you earn extra respect points. You'll also sometimes gain extra nitrous by doing things like drifts, combos, or catching air. Respect Challenges are the place to impress the girls, and get a new girlfriend. You can watch videos of your girlfriends when you complete a certain task. If you keep on losing races, you can also lose your girls.

There are a lot of different crews you can meet up with. This is where the bulk of the money is at, and where you make wagers. The main point of the game is to race for cash and respect. You can go to different types of races to earn them. You can even race a random car on the road by high-beaming them. When you have enough horsepower and enough respect points, you can enter more races. When the crew meets up for a race, it looks cool. People will be walking around on cell phones, taking pictures, or just hanging around. But the coolness doesn't last that long. I was winning a lot of races without buying any turbo nitrous boosters. I'm not saying you don't need it, but if you're good enough you barely need it for most races.

The replay mode is one of the worst I've ever seen. It's horrible. All you can really do is mess around with the filters. Big deal. Half the time while watching a replay in either multiplayer or single player, I couldn't even see the big crashes that happened. And there's no rewind or pause, and you can't adjust any angles.

The control is solid. Each car drives clearly unique to one another. Learning the drift moves aren't too hard at all since the manual explains them well. After a few days on and off, I really got hooked on playing SRS. This game is more a simulation, especially if you compare it to games like Burnout 3. The fastest car in the game is probably the Skyline. On Xbox Live you better have a fast car, or you'll end up losing your ride before you even know it. If you don't have Xbox Live, you can always play the 2-player split screen mode, or even use the system link feature.

Graphics

Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Miami is where all the street racing activity takes place. The cities look different, but not crazily detailed. Miami looks sweet, even though it's kind of plain. Each of the licensed cars featured in SRS look like their real life counterparts. My one gripe with SRS is that it looks like your riding on water sometimes. The roads at night always look so slick. Sure, it makes them look fancy smancy, but how much reflection can you have in a game? That, and the fact that some of the buildings in the backgrounds are pre-rendered made me realize that the graphics could have been slightly better. Now don't get me wrong, the night time graphics are clean and sweet as well, I just think the reflections are a bit overdone. I do like how the overall graphics are presented however. The impressive reflections on the cars, both in the showroom and on the streets, allow them to appear as realistic as they can get. Since not all races are set in the pitch-black hour of the night, the graphics can be pleasing to the eye. The surrounding environments are nice to look at to say the least. I'm really pleased with the daytime graphics, and I like them better than the night time visuals. When it's sunny out, the graphics are as smooth as Rallisport Challenge 2, but at night I don't get that same satisfaction. During the day everything just looks prettier. The only weird thing about the time of day is that it will be daytime, and then you'll go through a tunnel and it's instantly night time. Then if you turn around it will be daytime again. The shadow effects are done to perfection. Every time I go under a bridge or into a tunnel it all looks just right. Car damage isn't that advanced, but it most certainly exists. You can get into some wild accidents with the cops, but not as crazy as the crashes in Burnout 3. There isn't much detail on the damage side as other racing games have today. When you put on the nitrous, the screen blurs out, and it gives you a good feeling that you're going super fast. The frame rate remains smooth throughout gameplay. Make no mistake about it; the girls of SRS are definitely hot. Their real-life videos prove that.

Sound

"Microphone checka one-two"

There is no support for custom soundtracks, and there aren't many songs to listen to. You are going to hear the same songs over and over again. They aren't that bad, it's just that you hear the same song every 5 minutes it seems. As expected, if you buy a new engine and/or make some tweaks to your car, your whole car will sound different.

Replay Value

The replay value in SRS probably won't be that high for you. But if you are someone who enjoys tuning cars, then for that one reason you can play this for countless amounts of hours. There is a lot of gameplay, but there's also many other racing titles coming out in the near future. If this was to be your only racing title that you bought for awhile, I'm sure you can get a lot of value out of it.

Bottom Line:

When it's all said and done, there is a lot to do in SRS. This is a solid racing game my Xbox and videogame friends. This will tide you over under the new versions of Midnight Club and Need for Speed come out. I must say out of all of the Xbox titles, SRS is a decent arcade-style racing game. If you think your ready to test your illegal street racing skills, tune up your car, and make some high stakes, then I would say this is the game to do it with.

Related Links:

Official Street Racing Syndicate Website

-Steve Melanson




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