Review by GrAyEeWoLf

"This game will turn you into a PROFESSIONAL DRIFTER!!!!"

Battle Gear 3 is Taito's attempt at bringing simulation style driving to the arcade scene. But ... the real question would be ... what kind of racing are they trying to simulate?
This game, my friends, is a drift racing simulation game.

By definition:
Drift racing is the Japanese motorsport of cornering the fastest way possible by turning your car so that it's perpendicular to a curve and sliding sideways.


Yes, this game will allow you to do that. This game relies on true to life car specs and performance, but at the same time still has the arcade style control, which is the beauty of this particular racing title. While it's VERY unforgiving when you don't know how to drive well ... once you DO learn to drive correctly, BG3 will have you addicted to its unique sense of speed.

Well ... on to the review ...

Gameplay:
The most important aspect of any game lies here. BG3 is no exception. If you're looking for an arcade-style racer, you'll find it here. If you're looking for a simulation-style racer, you'll ALSO find it here.

How is that possible, you ask? The answer is simple.

The simulation aspect of the game is the game's physics. Each car performs just as its real life counterpart does. Unlike most arcade racers, this game has ALL the trappings of racing, INCLUDING turbo lag, wheel spin, countersteering, over-revving, etc.

While that may sound complicating, the game's controls are simple to get used to. While it DOES take a bit of time to get used to the way that the cars perform (and I'm warning you right now ... you will NOT master this game in one sitting) you'll be obsessed at finding ways to drive faster.

As the old saying goes ...
"It not how fast you drive ... it's how you drive fast"

Battle Gear 3's gameplay couldn't be more true to that statement. While other racing games rely on pure speed, BG3 relies SOLELY on skills. With good skills comes equal speed.

Anyway ... about the game ...

The game has two main modes:
Arcade Mode:
In 1-player mode ... pick a car. Pick a track. Race. Simple enough. However ... the 2-player options are pretty cool. Once you begin a 2-player game, you get to choose who's the top screen and who's the bottom. Once you two have selected your car and track, you get to choose whether you race circuit style (6 cars, in total) or head-to-head. In a 1-on-1 battle, you get to select your starting positions. If you feel, you can even do it lead/chase style. The only gripe about 2-player arcade mode is that the split screen graphics slow down to 30 FPS and are squished to fit your TV.

But, that won't stop you from having fun.

Main mode:
This is the meat of Battle Gear 3. Here, you get to do one of 3 things:
- Class Challenge Mode
- Time Attack Mode
- Net Battle Mode
Class Challenge Mode is where you'll be spending the majority of your time. Here, you choose a car and you race a set list of of rivals with cars of that class (so if you picked a Nissan 180sx, which is B-Class, you'll race the B-class Challenge) It's through here that you unlock cars that go into your 'Home Garage' which you can ALSO use in Arcade mode. And, by playing through Class Challenge Mode you unlock body kit parts for your car (side skirts, spoilers, rims, colors, etc.) You don't, however, get to tinker with your car's characteristics like GT3. But this IS an arcade game and that would just complicate things.

Clearing all classes will unlock a brand new course exclusive to the PS2 release of BG3. Clear all classes with PERFECT DRIVING! (beat EVERYONE, and that's easier said than done) and you'll unlock yet a second hidden track exclusive to BG3 PS2. That gives this game a total of 10 different tracks, which are all fun to try out your drifting skills.

Time Attack Mode is where you can take your car of choice and race it through the course of your choice, whether it be for setting time records or simple practice (which you SHOULD need given this game's difficulty) You also have the option of racing against ghost cars which can be accessed through your game save OR (if you have net access, Japan only) you can download replays to race against.

Net Battle Mode is straight from the arcade, where you go online and race other drivers who are also linked up to the Battle Gear.net server. But, as I mentioned earlier, unless you live in Japan, this option is rather useless.

Controls:
The controls are just flawless. Even more so if you have a good steering wheel (the game recommends the GT Force) The game's control scheme is not your typical arcade racer. The important components of any racing game are the gas and brake pedals, and a shifter. This game brings is a new element ... the hand brake. Yes, that's right. THIS is basically your cornering device. Making use of the 'e-brake' is essential to your progress in BG3. As in real life, drift racers utililze the e-brake to correct their cornering line. And that's EXACTLY what it does in this game.

While that may seem like it complicates things, you'll be having a blast once you get the hang of using it. Like I said earlier ... with time, you'll be pulling full inertia drifts like a MANIAC.

As for use of the PS2's Dual Shock 2, the game is just as fun to play. If you don't have the money for a steering wheel ... no worries. The analog stick is satisfactory enough.

Graphics
What can I say? This game's graphics rival that of the PS2's flagship racer ... Gran Turismo 3. The car details are incredible, as expected. But, where this game excels is its scenery. Each course is crafted BEAUTIFULLY. The game makes use of many visual effects that just catch your eye and add that much more realism to it. When coming out of a tunnel. the bright light at the end of the tunnel turns crystal clear into what becomes the track you race on. Simple things like that will just draw you more into the experience.

On the plus side ... BG3's car views are pretty cool. While you have the front bumper view and a aerial chase view, you also get the in-car view. The cool thing is that the interior reflects that of its real life counterpart. However, it's EXTREMELY hard to play this way as the car interior blocks out the majority of the screen. A great feature, nonetheless.

If you're a fan of Shuichi Shigeno's anime/manga Initial D, all of the main character's cars are in this game. From Takumi's mecha tuned Toyota Trueno to Keisuke's twin turbo FD, they're all present, along with their name on their license plate and a driver model that reflects that driver (however Seiji's Evo IV doesn't say MONSTER on the hood ... it says MONKEY, lol).

Sound:
The game's audio field is incredible. The real life car sounds are undeniably good. Even BETTER than most racers since it gets it COMPLETELY right. It goes as far as including the ringing sound that some cars make when their RPMs reach the redzone. From the sound of the RX-7's rotary to the backfire of the PCCS tuned Evo III. It brings this game THAT much closer to feeling like you were driving real car.

There are even some atmospheric sounds that make the game more life like than you would think. While BG3 does have the usual crowd cheers and applause, you'll hear other random sounds such as birds chirping, cow's mooing in the field and fireworks. Taito threw in EVERY little bit to make this feel like a true simulation game.

The bad part of the sound department is the cheesy generic rock music that plays. While it's not ALL bad ... it could have made the game that much better if it had a musical soundtrack that was adrenaline pumping.

Replay Value:
Everyone knows arcade games are designed so that you come back to it on more than one occasion. The plus here is that you don't have to waste any more money than what you used to buy it.

The real question should be ... "when will I stop playing?" Trust me. It may seem like this game is tedious and difficult, but once you understand the gameplay and figure out how to throw your car through a corner, it becomes an obsession of "how much faster CAN I go?"

Buy or Rent:
DEFINITELY a buy. This game is well executed and can go no wrong. While its difficulty curve is rather high, it's just like Gran Turismo in the sense that it's just like learning how to drive for real. But, like I said, with time and practice you'll learn to harness your driving ability and you'll become a PROFESSIONAL DRIFTER in no time at all.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/15/04


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