Review by Neoboy259

"Racing fans start your engines......"

Like many, I had high hopes for Namco's first effort on the PS2. Following on from the Namco tradition of creating addictive racing games at the expense of realism, RRV is an excellent, if unpolished arcade racer that deserves serious attention.
I was knocked out by the graphics- crisp, clear, and with some amazing lighting effects. The replays themselves resemble video footage. Some of the textures seem a little ill-defined and unclear, but nothing that distracts from the racing action. In 2 player mode, things aren't quite as impressive- the frame rate drops to 30fps to accomodate the two displays, and there are some serious issues regarding the fogging- but again, it's something that doesn't actually affect the gameplay.
I wasn't particularly impressed by the audio either. Some dance tunes, coupled with some head-banging music- thank god for the ''BGM Mute'' option. I'm generally not too concerned about a game's aural qualities, but engine roars, screeches, collisions and general automobile effects were handled competently. A nice feature was the voice-overs, done in a radio commentary style, as opposed to the team orders in the previous games.

One of the staples of the RR series has been the range of cars available for selection. Initially you are given 4 different cars to race with, each with their own strengths and weaknesses- further play reveals more vehicles, and modifications to your existing fleet are also available- though don't expect anything near the depth of Gran Tourismo here. The course too were very well designed, though there isn't much variety. As in the previous titles in the series, most of the action takes place around the same location, and the curcuits sometimes share the same sections of track, so variety-wise it's at a disadvantage. Though RRV fans would already have been aware of this.

The racing action is relatively simple, however. Race from the back of the pack to qualify in at least 3rd place to qualify for the next track. Fail and you have to retry the stage- up to a maximum of 3 attempts. It's an arcade racer, so don't expect intelligent AI on the part of the CPU, though interestingly, certain CPU drivers did drive in an aggressive manner- attempting to ram me at every opportunity, so it's not as if the CPU will allow you to roar pass them- adding an element of strategy that was unheard of in RR, though again, it's hardly in the same league as the more ''serious'' driving sims.
This is a fast, addictive racer, and also gives an excellent demonstartion of what the new Sony badged air freshner :) is capable of. Just don't expect too much depth, originality or variety, and the fact that the 2 player option has a boost option to enable the lagging car to catch up means that even your most ability-disadvantaged friends can still give you a good hiding. A highly recommended title.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 09/10/00, Updated 09/10/00

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