Review by Tenno Tenjo

"All that bad? Another look... ^_^;"

A lot of people have given this game some pretty low marks, but is this game really that bad? Most of the reviews seem to reflect some sort of knee-jerk reaction after playing the game for only a few minutes.

While Vanishing Point does get lost in the ocean of ''me too'' racing games for the Playstation, it's not exactly your run-of-the-mill racer; Herein lies the source of the mixed feelings for this game. Unlike other racers, you're not directly racing against the other cars... Err, it's rather more like rally racing than the usual GT racing. What this means is your real enemy is the clock in trying to get the best overall time. Granted, there are other cars out there on the track, and they do make your life troublesome. As interesting as this idea is, the real crux of the matter is in how the cars, all of them, handle. You see, the game is about driving cars ''at their limits'', which entails lots of powerslides and edgy control... While the designers meant well, they went too far and made even the slightest nudge or bump cause you to go flying out of control. On one hand the game's physics are right on the money, the cars pitch, roll, and slide like real cars... but at the same time there's this sort of cartoony-lunacy of having cars bounce and tumble around like dice on a craps table. Did anyone other than a seasoned game tester ever play this game during it's design? From the get go, the cars all are nearly impossible to steer with any skill at all... While it can be mastered, there's just no excuse for making a game this difficult at it's start.

The other gripe about this game is in the reward system. Actually, where it starts you off. Only two dumpy cars and one track in single race mode. Having at least a little more to do at the start would have been nice. Otherwise, the reward system is nice, offering movies, photos, tracks, and many, many interesting cars. But with how hard this game is, who in the world has enough patience to *actually beat this game* without using GameShark codes? The answer... Very few. Only hardcore racer fans, or those with *nothing* else to do, (and maybe few/no other games), will be able to get into this game at all.

It's not all stale bread and moldy cheese though. The overall presentation is really top notch. The intro movie kicks! All of the menus are well thought out and the various screenshots are all very clean looking hi-hes images. The cutscenes and stills of the ''x-ray'' car are 100% pro-looking as well. While sparse, the photo galleries are breathtaking in their clarity. While the ample bass of the pumping techno soundtrack causes a ''love it or hate it'' split through the crowd, (mostly from age... ^_^;), it provides plenty of shake and fits the contemporary feel of the game perfectly. Ah, but extras do not an excellent game make! At least not by themselves anyway...

There are at least two other modes to talk about first, and really they go a long, long way in saving this game for the casual gamer. First is the ''Stunt'' driving... I really liked this mode! Here you must complete a number of feats... It's like a mix of Gran Turismo's ''License'' tests and Crazy Taxi's mini-games. Most of the runs consist of either jumps, slaloms, or breaking balloons, in various combinations. The ''Triple Criss-Cross Jumps'' has got to be my favorite! There's also a few different two, (and three!) player games as well. I've had many, many great late-night sessions with my friends with this game; Needless to say, the multiplayer modes alone are worth the $20 I paid for this game!

I nearly forgot to mention a few things about the tracks themselves! There's a pretty good mix of locations, and they're filled with various moving animations, (water wheels, radar dishes, misc. aircraft, trains, etc.), and they're pretty detailed considering their length. With the exception of a select handful of titles, most Playstation games have to balance speed, graphic detail, and total number of onscreen objects on a slippery scale. Finding just the right balance of these factors is a daunting task for even the best software houses. While it's not exactly fair to compare the look of this game to what's been coming out lately for the newer systems as some do, I will mention that some reviewers have crucified this game because it doesn't look as good as the legendary Ridge Racer 4. While it's not as sharp as Gran Turismo's ''hi-res'' mode, the framerate zooms along at a very fast clip with no pop-up or slowdown in sight! No it's not perfect, but it's still easily better than the average fare.

It's about here where most reviewers start ranting about throwing this game, (or themselves), off a cliff or some such nonsense, and how much they dislike it. I suppose if I paid $50 instead of $20 for this game, I'd feel that way too. While not a classic, this game does have some interesting aspects... I've played many racing games since I first got my Atari 2600 for Christmas back in 1976, and I can say with great certainty, this is not the worst console racer out there. Not nearly. As much as I might like this game, it's still a mixed call. While it's a sure rental, I can only recommend actually buying this game if you're a hardcore racing fan, or can get get it for $20 or less. It's too bad about the whole ''steering'' issue with this game. It turned what would have been a classic game into just an average one.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 09/12/01, Updated 09/12/01

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