LucasArts presents a sequel to the N64/DC Episode I Racer on the PS2. Developed by Rainbow Studios (ATV Offroad, Splashdown) this game is a good successor to the original. It is great to see the new batch of Star Wars games that have come out (Rogue Squadron for GameCube, Obi Wan for XBox and this game) and the ones that are coming (Jedi Starfighter for PS2, Jedi Knight II: Outcast for PC and other Episode II games).
This game is not nearly as high profile as Rogue Squadron, Jedi Starfighter and Jedi Knight II are, but it carves its own niche in the racing category. With things both new and some things left behind, this game is both better and worse than the game that came before it.
The graphics in this game are both good and bad. The game runs at a constant framerate with no slowdown that I saw. On some tracks with lots of environment graphics there is a bit of pop up here and there. It often happens on the horizon but in one specific track you come up on a large building and it just pops out of nowhere onto the screen. Another pop up happens while the announcer is talking about the track before the race. A LOT of pop up comes up but this obviously does not detract from the gameplay as you are not racing yet.
The graphics overall are very good. The tracks vary quite a bit. You race in tubes, you jump long distances, you race up a spiral track and you even race over water with Splashdown type effects on the water. I just wish they could have gotten rid of the pop ups, it would make this game that much more beautiful.
Collision detection is very good in this game. This game, unlike the previous one, really rewards you for pounding other racers right out of a race. The collision system is very good and you can actually push a racer right into a wall. The only problem I saw with collision was when you initiated your thrusters you did not go straight ahead of the racer you were smashing a second ago. Instead the racer seems to go the same speed as you. Now I doubt that 2 racers could hit turbo at the exact same time going that speed, but what do I know.
This is a Star Wars game so obviously there is going to be the required John Williams soundtrack on it. The music is ok in the menus but overall I was not impressed. The reason this score is so low is because of the sound. The podracers themselves did not sound like they did in the movie. I had been told that they sounded just like them, but I never heard the thumps of Sebulba’s pod or anything. I was expecting an experience somewhat like the DVD version of Episode I, but I was very disappointed.
The other reason the score is so low is the voices. The announcer says the same things over and over during the races. “Look at (enter pilot here) go” or “(Enter pilot here) has a mean streak” as your pod smashes into another pod. And the pilot’s voices themselves are boring as well. Anakin loves to say, “No one can beat a Jedi” even when he is in last place in the race. I think it may have been better if they had not even had any voices in the game. It just detracts from the whole experience.
The manual itself is very short and basically goes over the controls of the game and catches you up on the story of the Episode I Racer. It is now 8 years after Anakin beat Sebulba to win the championship. Sebulba is coming back though and he has revenge on his mind. The manual is not the greatest and I have seen far better manuals from LucasArts than this one. I was ashamed to even look at it. The box art does not really catch your eye and is just substandard. If you actually open the case and look inside you may be surprised by what you find.
The biggest thing about this game is the speed. With 4 available views (in the cockpit, from the thrusters, close behind and far behind the pod) this game can give you a rush depending on what view you are in. The racing stages themselves are something to be in awe of. There are a lot of enclosed tunnels where you can do 360s with your pod if you so choose. Some of the tracks are beautiful and some are just bland.
Another interesting part of the game is the advanced controls. This allows you to use both analog sticks to control your pod. It can take a lot of time to get used to, but if you can master it your experience will be all the better. It reminded me a lot of the Sega arcade Star Wars racer although I am not sitting in a cockpit and do not have as big of a screen as the arcade unit does. One more thing to touch on and that is the menu. It is pretty boring and bland and there is no difficulty level to choose although this game is not that hard.
Star Wars: Racer Revenge is a relatively fun game to play. I will admit I am a fan of any racing game, but I would not put this game at the top of the list with Gran Turismo 3 or anything. This is just a fun racing game whereas GT3 is much more strategic.
The controls are pretty simple. X is speed, Square is break, L1 is powerslide, R1 is turbo and L2 is repair. In this game you can repair while racing, however this will slow you down somewhat as the droid repairs your engine. There is a small amount of strategy to this specific part of the game. You must weigh when to do your repairs so that you do not lose much ground and/or destroy your pod. Turbo can be used but cannot be overused. I did not find Turbo very helpful except in certain instances such as being far behind or needing to speed into the finish to get a better placing.
This game is basically broken down to a practice mode and a Tournament mode. The Tournament mode is where the majority of the game takes place. You battle through 13 levels that are shorter than Episode I Racer’s levels and not as numerous. This is a minus to this game, they could have easily have made the tracks longer, but I guess they did not want to. Once you have unlocked all the racers you have 18 to choose from. I have put a few racers through the game and each one does control slightly differently. The pods are very different, some are very maneuverable and some are just powerful. After you place 3rd or higher in a race you get money to go to Watto’s shop and buy upgrades for your pod in 7 categories. You also get money for knocking out any racers in the race as well. At the very beginning you are given a Par number for knocking people out. If you reach that number the amount of money you get is that much greater. In order to win the later matches you really have to have your pod upgraded pretty high. Some of the later stages can get very hard.Is this game worth playing again? Yes and no. Yes in the fact that you can take another of the 18 pod racers through the Tournament but no in the fact that once you go through the tracks once you may not want to come back. This game is fun in spurts, but you certainly are not going to be sitting playing this game for hours unless you are doing two player battles with your friends.