Review by DGreenwood
"All flash, no substance."
Seeing a preview of Jet Grind Radio in a gaming mag months ago was one of the reasons I ended up buying a dreamcast. The graphics and presentation are, without question, amazing. Unfortunately, this seems to blind people to the fact that the gameplay has some serious issues. I can't remember getting this frustrated with any game I've purchased in this short of an amount of time. I bought the game, then returned it four hours later. Let's discuss...
As I mentioned before, even the most jaded gamer will burst into tears at the sight of this game's graphics. The cel-shading technique pioneered by Jet Grind Radio is completely original and looks amazing. There's really nothing to say in this department, except that nothing could have been improved.
The music is pretty good for the most part. Unfortunately, a few of the songs are terribly annoying, and there is no way to choose which tracks you want the game to play. The voice acting is alright, although having that ''XTreme'' sound to it that is either good or bad depending on your perspective. Sound effects are in general pretty nice, and fit the game.
I did enjoy this game for about 10 minutes. But I can't really attribute that to the gameplay. It was more along the lines of me tolerating the uninteresting gameplay and awkward camera angles due to the graphics and the generally pleasant nature of it all. Then the cops showed up. Now the principle of this game is basically to rollerblade around the city, painting your gang sign over other people's graffiti. This isn't awful when you just have to tap the left trigger. The more complicated ones, on the other hand, require obnoxious twists and turns on the analog stick that are totally counter-intuitive. Add to this the fact the cops seemingly materialize out of nowhere behind you ALL THE TIME, whacking you over the head, and stopping whatever you were doing, forcing you to run away with your tail between your legs until the game allows you to continue. And as if the cops weren't bad enough, helicopters start firing missiles(!) at you, which I admit is kind of funny, while completely killing the gameplay.
Look, with a game design like this, and an emphasis on finding some VERY hard to reach tags, the very last thing I need is some cheap bad guy antagonizing me at EVERY FRIGGIN' TURN!. If it's going to be this hard for me to reach the goals of a level, I'd like to have the time to practice getting to it. I also took issue with the control, or complete lack thereof. This game makes it easy to grind on any rail that you see. Perhaps a little too easy, since I would find the rails taking me in the exact opposite direction I wanted to go in. I would try to jump off of a rail and stop, but accidentally land on another rail that turned me 180 degrees backwards, INTO the cops that are currently chasing me. You can also do tricks in the air, but they seem to pop off at random, getting in the way more than anything else.
The final dash of salt in my wound was the woeful camera system. For some bizarre reason, the ''tag'' and ''center camera'' buttons were both assigned to the left trigger. But this annoyance aside, the game decides to randomly switch to a side or overhead perspective every time something interesting happens. This happens frequently when I'm in the middle of a jump or trying to turn, causing me to look like a complete idiot as I skate directly into a wall or fall 2 floors down (into a mass of waiting cops), costing me about 2 minutes of my time. Oh, did I forget to mention that they actually TIME you for this madness? Grrrr....
I've heard that the story is pretty interesting, but considering how quickly I came to hate this game, I can't really comment.
I couldn't stand this game after only a very short time playing it, and neither could any of my friends. Of course, we are the sort that swear by 2D gaming, and would rather have coherent gameplay than a mess like this that sells simply due to great graphics and (poorly done) 3D-ness. So if you are of the new breed of gamers you might get some enjoyment out of this. Reading the other opinions on the net lead me to believe that I am in a definite minority on this one.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 03/14/01, Updated 03/14/01
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