Review by gloBal enemy
"Initial D except in video game form! Damn cool!"
This has to be one of the coolest games I've played in a long time. The game has somewhat realistic graphics but in a way sort of not. Imagine a car racing game except hand drawn with great precision in anime style. Imagine Initial D except as a video game. This is what Capcom's new (and online) game Auto Modellista is about.
The racing is pretty standard. Take Polyphony Digital's GRAN TURISMO 3, take out all the standard cars and leave behind the cool ones (such as Subaru Imprezas). Then redraw all the remaining ones like anime and make them very clean cut looking. This results in a very nice looking game with very 3d graphics, great looking city tracks and a very interesting car to drive. True to Japanese anime style, they show perspective and 3d very well despite being animated fully and not showing any real 3d polygons.
The driving of the game however is very different to that found in Gran Turismo. The steering is a lot tighter and the brakes are a lot weaker. This means that some clever early braking and sharp cornering is required but there is an element of arcadia in this. You can travel high speeds and still turn (slightly). There is only one odd thing about this game, you can sort of drive through other cars. I'm not sure how but you can bump into them but its as if you drive through them.. I'm not really sure.
Racing in this game however is limited to simple tracks and chains. There is nothing new other than playing with anime cars (damn fun). The car models also have many variations and you can colour code them to your liking; something which I've never seen elsewhere. It is also possible to change your car specs I believe but I don't know how (my Japanese is limited). As a note for importers; you can get by fine without knowing a word of Japanese to play this very cool game.
Automatic Transmission is an interesting thing in this game. Its still automatic but if you wish you can use the usual keys L2/R2 to switch gears as if it were manual. Similar to those gear systems found in tiptonic/steptronic cars (where there is automatic gearshift but you can switch to manual anytime). The game has a fun to play Manual Transmission but mind you with all this early braking it becomes somewhat complicated after playing GT3.
The graphics are very nicely done with the backgrounds and the cars all resembling anime. The usual 3d anime is here but there are many special effects and when you travel at high speeds there is an effect where lines keep gashing across the screen. Wind? It sort of reminds me of the hyperspace effect used in the classic Star Wars episodes. This is very cool.
The sound effects are quite well done. I'm glad to finally see that sound effects are an important part of the gaming world today. The techno Japanese beat is there and the car engines are quite appealing. Equally so to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. You can also hear the other cars which is quite nice too.
There are replays in this game and they are very sleek to watch; makes you think your watching an anime cartoon and the cars are instantly recognisable. Mitsubish, Subaru, Toyota, and a pile of other Japanese car manufacturers all make appearances here but you won't have to worry about driving ordinary cars like in Gran Turismo. You can get right into the action with my favorite Subaru WRX Sti if you want. Car customisation is there and it is very cool to play with your car's looks.
All in all this is a great game to play. I know it has online capabilities and steering wheel capabilities but I haven't being able to try as I do not have either the modem or steering wheel but from a person who plays the games on the spot without anything else and little understanding of the Japanese, I believe this game is one of the best racing games on the Playstation 2. Its also possible to compare this with Ridge Racer V; better graphics, real cool cars - which are real, more cars, better tracks and more fun to play so this game deserves a 9.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/12/02, Updated 10/12/02
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