Review by MJCx
"Lack of online play is the only thing keeping this from being a must have title for the PC."
I originally purchased this title for the Xbox 360 and needless to say, it blew away my expectations. I love the control, emphasis on speed, great level designs, and of course the use of Sega characters. I enjoyed it so much that I also bought it for the PC.
GAMEPLAY: Being true to other kart racers (and almost every other racer) the goal is to drive around the track faster than your opponents. Like Mario Kart you will also take advantage of weapons, boosts, and drifting.
There are 20 drivers to choose from. Several characters are from the Sonic franchise while others are from various Sega games. Some of which include Ryo Hazuki (Shenmue), Samba De Amigo, Beat (Jet Set Radio), Jackie (Virtua Fighter), etc. There are 24 tracks to choose from. The tracks are visually inspired by levels in Sonic games, House of the Dead, Samba De Amigo, Super Monkey Ball, Billy Hatcher and Jet Set Radio. The Jet Set Radio tracks happen to be my personal favorites. My only complaint would be there aren't tracks inspired by all the characters in the game.
Weapons you'll be using in the game include boxing gloves, homing rockets, bombs, etc. They all essentially cause an opposing driver to spin out of control for a moment. Other items such as the Rainbow and Confusing Star obstruct an opponent's vision. There is also a unique move for each character called an All-Star Move. They basically give you a huge speed boost and allow you to smash through other drivers. The chance of getting an All Star Move depends on your position in the race, last place being the most likely to get it.
Now Sega made a decision I simply don't understand for the PC release and this makes it the least desirable port in my opinion. It's the only version that does not offer online play. Even the DS release offers online play (not that I would recommend the DS version). With that said, I would recommend purchasing this game for either the Wii, PS3, or 360 over the PC. But if you don't own any of those consoles, this is better than nothing.
On the bright, this game does offer split screen multiplayer for up to 4 players. Not often you find that on a PC game. Unfortunately, this game only supports Xbox 360 controllers. I doubt many PC gamers own 4 Xbox 360 controllers.
Now getting into game modes. For single player there is Grand Prix, Single Race, Time Attack and Missions. Grand Prix allows a player to choose from 6 trophy cups and each has 4 unique tracks. Single race lets you race on any track against A.I. opponents. Time Attack lets you do nonstop laps on any track with the goal of achieving your best time. Mission mode allows you to choose from 64 different missions with varying goals such as standard races or unique objectives. Some of the unique objectives include drifting goals, collecting as many rings as possible, shooting targets with weapons, driving through hoops, etc.
For multi player, you can do single races or play several competitive games. Honestly, I barely played the competitive games because I found them incredibly boring. I really don't even want to waste time describing them. I'll just say the standard racing modes is the star of the show.
PRESENTATION: One thing that I love about this game is the excellent presentation. It's very reminiscent to past Sega games and polished to look impressive for current standards. The textures are bright and colorful, excellent use of lighting and shading, character models are superb, and the tracks look fantastic. Technically its not outstanding quality, but it does have a very appealing presentation.
At first glance I presumed the graphics were equal to the Xbox 360. But after observing closely they indeed lowered the quality. Compared to the Xbox 360 the textures aren't as sharp and the tracks appear slightly less detailed. This might upset some PC gamers but the difference isn't that significant in my opinion. On the bright side, the PC version has the advantage of higher resolutions, v-sync, smoother shading, and superior frame rates.
SOUND: Each character is voiced and tend to yell random things when they perform actions. Most of the background music appears to be directly ripped from past titles. There are definitely some memorable tunes long time Sega fans will recognize. There is also an announcer who calls the action during races. The announcer can be a little annoying but does give the game more personality. I have no real complaints in this department and I often blast the audio while playing.
VALUE: I'm actually terribly upset Sega left out online play in this port. Every time I boot it up I actually get angry that I can't jump online and play with others. With that said the lack online play is a crippling blow to potential replay value. It's even the sole reason I'd much rather own the console versions.
Nevertheless, this is still a fantastic kart racer with plenty to offer. There 6 trophy races at various difficulties. Plenty of characters, tracks, and music to unlock. Mission mode is great fun and will take hours to complete. There are achievements that push you to play more and are simply fun goals to attempt And of course, split screen multiplayer with friends is a blast.
Frankly, there isn't a better kart racing game on the PC right now. I highly doubt that'll change in the near future. If you are a fan of Mario Kart, a hardcore Sega fan, or just enjoy Arcade style racers, this is a game definitely worth checking out.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/05/10, Updated 05/17/10
Game Release: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (EU, 02/26/10)
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