Review by Fiefo!
"Initial D: 3rd Stage is out... and its good!"
AROUND THE WORLD
As the 3rd "upgrade" to this arcade game series, Initial D: 3rd Stage has successfully fine-tuned its game system to fulfill the suggestions and complaints that a lot of people who played the 1st and 2nd versions had.
For those unfamiliar with the Initial D series...
Initial D is the story of Takumi Fujiwara, a teenager who gets caught up in the world of Mountain Racing. Although he drives an old outdated car (a black and white "panda" Toyoto Trueno), he manages to beat most of his challengers with superior skill (and, sometimes, incredible luck). At the start, he really doesn't want to race, however, as the story goes, he decides that he likes the thrill of racing...
Anyway, enough of that! If you want to know more, go get the anime or the manga. On with the review!
RAGE YOUR DREAM
The graphics of the game has really been impressive since the series started. Somehow, they made the graphics even better! The "Legend of the Streets" mode (Story Mode) doesn't really show this off (being still pictures and all), but, rather, it is the in-game graphics that impressed me.
The onscreen display never blocks the view of the road ahead (which is very important for a racing game) and the details of the cars (if you look closely, you can see a dark outline on the person driving), the tracks (there are "parking lanes" on some of the straightaways) and the backgrounds is really impressive, especially the new tracks, Shomaru and Tuchizaka, with trees and all.
The sound effects, however, hasn't really improved that much. There are few new nice touches (the satisfying *skht* sound when shifting), however, considering that the sound effects in the previous versions. And, IMO anyway, the sound didn't really matter to me since its the music that was really good in the first place!
DON'T STOP THE MUSIC
While they have totally re-worked the soundtrack for this version, each of the new songs have that catchy "euro-beat" that made the songs in the previous version so great. It's also a nice touch that the songs actually came from the anime and soundtracks rather than some generic songs that they make up for the game. The music really draws you in, making you feel that you are driving in the anime! By the way, the titles for each chapter is a title of a song that comes from the soundtrack.
SPEEDY SPEED BOY
Sega really did a lot of tweaking for this game. Some veterans of the previous version will know this off the bat. Some cars have improved to become more competitive and some have been downgraded to balance things out. People who've played Stage 2 know how much of a monster the Integra Type R was in that version. Not anymore!
Also, the feel of each car seems to have changed a bit. I've only driven 1 car for this version so far (Evo IV CN9A) and it seems to drift a lot more than it used to. With a little experience, however, driving does become second nature, which is a testament to the great programming the game has gone through.
24 HOURS A DAY WITH YOU
To say this game is addictive would be a grave understatement! With a huge amount of game modes, its a game that would have you practically stuck to the driver's seat (much to the ire of the other guys waiting for you to get your sorry ass out of there so they can get their turn)! With the "Legends of the Street" mode (your basic story mode), you've got your simple story with you as the main character trying to be the best Road Racer in all of Japan (or the Gunma area, not really sure). With Time Attack, you compete for bragging rights to see who has the fastest time in each track! The Bunta Challenge has you trying to luck against Bunta, Takumi's father in the anime and manga, to see if you can beat him. Last, but not the least is Challenge mode (Versus mode), where you face off against another fellow game player, which usually tends to be the biggest challenge always!
While facing off against other people is fun, the AI for the computer opponents are no slouch either! In Version 2, you would be able to beat the CPU "off the line" (take the lead immediately at the start of the race) most of the time. Now, it has really become difficult to pull that off in Version 3. Also, the computer characters will not let you pass on straightaways that often anymore. Now, you really have to be great at cornering to beat them.
Now, while all of those points make a great game in itself, Sega gave the players the ability to Save their progress on a card! This is essential since, while racing, you will get points and those points will enable you to upgrade your car! Not only that, if you manage to beat enough human opponents, your car gets surrounded by "battle aura", which really shows your superiority with the game. Without the Save card system, saving stats would be next to impossible! Sega really got the right idea with the implementation of this simple, yet essential item.
ROCK ME TO THE TOP
Bottom line, this is one of the best racing games out there. If you've seen the anime, you'll be instantly be hooked on it. If you don't have a clue what an "Initial D" is, try the game out! You'll be hooked, too!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/04
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