So for the past week I've been playing PowerDrome, which was released to no fanfare.
Essentially the game is an Xbox version of Star Wars: Pod Racer, with similar crafts and characters. The appeal of the game for me was to play on Live, which this game can do, but the lack of buyers has made finding games a bit tough, and the lag over games I have played has been pretty bad - I assume in part because of the distance between players, but this is a budget title.
The graphics are not as good as Quantum Redshift, but the control over the vehicles is much better. There are no weapons in this game, though you can "boost ram" an opponenet immediately in front of you when you hit turbo.
You build up a turbo meter when in high gear, and can have up to three turbos in reserve. These are also used to repair your vehicle as it sustains damage through out the races, which is a surprisingly valid concern - in tighter races you need to manage repairs with boosting. It adds some thought into the whole process. Chances are you'll blow up at least once every few races.
It's alsp fun to see other racers explode in front of you during a tight race - I was one of four racers to explode after a tight turn - that was cool. You regenerate after you explode, which is a bummer. And the exploding AI has become a factor pretty late into the game, but it's cool to see it occur.
There's a nice career path which moves up in difficulty as you go, though I find the game pretty easy overall. Interestingly, the game's non-career mode is more difficult on Medium setting than over half of the career races. That's very nice and adds some replayability.
Other random thoughts:
There's tons to unlock: about a dozen characters, 24 tracks (twelve plus reversed, I believe), concept art, about twenty movies (have only unlocked one so far), and images of the 1988 original PowerDrome. No idea yet if you can unlock that original game, though from the screen shots, boy, why would you want to?
The graphics are pretty average. Not horrible, not great.
Unlike Pod Racer, you don't get those neat moments on the tracks where something explodes, or the doorways close on you, or you find an alternate path to take. You do get a great sense of speed and the competitiveness of the AI racers is a bonus. I played a successful, lag-free Live game against two other folks and one guy and I were neck and neck for most of the race - that was excellent, I thought.
You can have 1-4 players on one Xbox or 1-8 on System Link or Live. You can include AI racers or not for multiplayer games. If you inlcude AI, they are tough to beat. A friend and I finshed 7th and 8th against the AI on split-screen.
I forgot to mention too that the game has the best looking opening video that I think I've ever seen. It's very well done.
Overall, I'm enjoying the game - it's fun - but you can tell this isn't going to win any awards.
Hope this info is useful if anyone was curious, or had even heard about the game.