Review by Shady

""That is a game in great line of race" - Babelfish."

Speed Devils Online Racing is the game that brought me on my first trip into the wonderful multiplayer world known as SegaNet. Ever since I had gotten my ISP (internet service provider) hooked up to my Dreamcast I had wanted to buy a game that was all about playing online. While browsing through a local department store, I came across Speed Devils Online Racing. I looked at the tag and was amazed by the price - it only cost a measly $9.99. I bought the game, eagerly awaiting the return home to see if the game was worth my money. It turns out that SDOR was more than worth the very low price I got it for.

There are two modes in the game - online play and offline play. With the words ''online racing'' in the game title, you gotta expect that SDOR is based mainly on online play rather than offline play. It definitely shows in the game - online play is killer, while offline play is ''filler''.

The offline mode is no fun at all. It seems like it's really just a practice mode before going online. Everything is unlocked and ready to go - even the ''A'' cars. There is no real purpose for this mode since you can get better practice online against real people. Sure, you can pick your car, track, and go through a variety of other options(nitro, checkpoints, etc.) in the offline mode, but who in their right mind would buy this game just for that?

Playing the game online is a whole different story. You get to race against real, living and breathing, people from all across the world. There are almost as many players from Brazil playing SDOR as there are from the U.S. and Canada. Nothing compares to playing against another one of our species, regardless of where they are from.

In the online mode, you start off with $10,000 - just enough to buy a crappy beginner's car (or truck). Once you start racing, you will earn all sorts of money (unless you really suck). You can get money by beating certain goals in each online race that you choose to do. Even if you have a pathetic ''D'' car (the lowest in the game) and you are getting your ass handed to you by the awesome ''A'' cars (the best in the game) in a race, you still have a chance of making money by busting the radars. Busting the radars in this game means going faster than a set speed limit at certain areas throughout the course. That neat little addition makes completing races very rewarding.

As you earn the money throughout the races, you can upgrade your vehicle or you can buy a new one (if you are in the right class). Some of the things you can upgrade are the acceleration, speed, brakes, and tires. You can even add armor to your vehicles to reduce the amount of damage it takes during a race. It is best to be careful during races so you don't damage your car - it can be very costly to repair your car after every race.

The online experience in Speed Devils Online Racing is great, but it does have a few minor problems. One problem I noticed with the various rooms online is that most of the races are the same. If you were to go online right now in SDOR, I can almost guarantee that 60% of the rooms will be for the Hollywood course and more than 90% of the rooms are just standard races. I know that the Hollywood course is the easiest one to make money off of, but a little variety would be nice. I also can understand that most people will want to do standard races for fear of losing money on the other options (which I will get to in the next paragraph), but the whole point of the Speed Devils series is to gamble and take risks. You obviously won't get very far in the game if you don't take any risks.

There are three types of races in the game - standard, trial, and vendetta. Standard is just a normal race with no extra money on stake. Trial is basically a race to win a bet or a series of bets. The room owner can select how much money the bets are worth. Vendetta mode is probably the most unique mode out of the three, but it is also the one that is rarely seen online. The idea is simple - the winner of the race gets the opponent's car. The only people that bother to do a vendetta anymore are the ''A'' class players that have a lot of cars. Oh well, I guess you can't have everything..

The actual driving in SDOR feels great. The controls are very responsive, allowing the driving to be a nice mix of realistic and arcade style handling. The controls are actually typical stuff for the Dreamcast - the R trigger is used to accelerate, and the L trigger is used to brake. Other button functions include using the X button to downshift, the Y button to handbrake, the A button to upshift, and the B button for nitro. The directional keys are used to change the camera angle, while the analog stick is used to steer left and right. The controls are simple to learn and are actually some of the best I've seen in a racing game.

To go along with the great gameplay (at least online) and controls, Speed Devils Online Racing has very solid graphics. Everything moves very fast, with little to none popup or slowdown to be found. The tracks are excellently detailed as each one is different from the rest. For example, during the popular Hollywood course you have to watch out for a fist slamming King Kong and an ornery dinosaur. The game has a real sense of speed, which the graphics add a lot to.

The game also has some good sound. The music, while a little annoying, is not as bad as everyone says. Although some of the music tracks are a little generic, each track is kind of unique in its own way. If you like the background music, you can put the game disc in a normal CD player and listen to the music (just make sure to listen to track 2 first). The sound effects are basically normal for a racing game, but that really isn't such a bad thing in this case. For example, if you run over a signpost you will hear a ''cling'' sound. It's little noises like that that can add a little more to a game and SDOR is no exception.

Overall, Speed Devils Online Racing is a great game. Online play is a blast as long as there are people to play against, while offline play is ''booooooring''. I recommend buying the game if you are a fan of any types of racing games, especially if you have always wanted to race online (like I have). Do NOT buy this game for the offline mode. The words ''online racing'' in the game's title should give a good enough warning anyway. I am very happy with my purchase in Speed Devils Online Racing. Hey, any game with my name on the back of the case has to be good, right?

Best Feature: Awesome online play.
Worst Feature: Dull offline play.

Final Analysis:
Graphics 8/10 - very solid with little to no slowdown or popup
Sound 6.5/10 - great sound effects, decent background music
Gameplay 8/10 - very fun online mode, unspectacular offline mode
Control 8/10 - responsive, easy to dive into
Replay Value 8/10 - you'll be playing this for a while
Challenge 6/10 - racing can be tough against higher class cars, but you still get money even when losing horribly
Overall 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/01/01, Updated 10/24/01

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