Review by ArmamentArmedArm

Reviewed: 05/19/04

The only thing I'm gonna battle is the person who sold me this game.

Anyone who imports PS2 games is always looking for that rare gem that didn't get released over here, yet is worth owning and sparks that "why the hell didn't someone publish this in the US?" feeling. Unfortunately the only thing Battle Gear 3 made me think was "why the hell was this even released?", which is definitely not the impression something that costs you a ton of money to import should make. There are so many levels that this game fails on, its like me playing Lemmings for the first time.

The intro movie is the absolute best part of the game, its a nice little minute or so of CG cars drifting around a track to some pretty decent techno. It got me all pumped up and ready to drift! I mean, if the cars in the intro are drifting every corner, obviously the game is all about drift racing, right? Hell no! Try to drift in this game (if you can even get your car to do it) and you'll lose every time. The computer can slide around the corners just fine, in fact they do and never EVER make even one little mistake. You'll have the entire pack of 7 other cars sliding around corners in a nice little line, while you struggle to get your horribly handling car to begin a drift, only to slam into the wall or have the camera actually lurch ahead of your car halfway through. Some people might say this is because I suck or because I didn't learn the controls, but seriously if you're going to make a game about DRIFT RACING then it shouldn't be f'n rocket science to get your car to slide.

The problem is that your car handles nothing like a real car, after playing Kaido Battle or Gran Turismo a person gets used to cars feeling like they have some weight and adhering somewhat to the laws of physics. This game throws all that out the door and instead ops for the Ridge Racer school of physics, i.e. absolutely ridiculous. Your car neither behaves nor controls even slightly realistically, instead it feels like you're steering a big box that pivots from the center. There are about 70 some cars, but they all control about the same, I didn't notice much difference between a FR (front engine, rear wheel drive) like the Mazda RX7 or an all-wheel drive like the Mitsubishi EVO VII. This is a GLARING fault, the two types of cars should handle very differently.

About the only positive thing I can say for the game is that the tracks look nice, all whopping 7 of them. There's a fair amount of detail in the backgrounds, and if you ignore the horrible looking crowds (the classic "cardboard cutout" problem), you'll be decently awed by the waterfalls, shady copses of trees, the long draw distance (not once did I notice any popup), and many other aesthetic trimmings you'll most likely never notice while speeding by at 100 mph. Its too bad with all the work they put into the backgrounds, the cars look like hell. Blocky, low res, and jaggy, they'll be a constant eyesore on the car-select screen. During racing you really only see your backside so it's not as annoying, but why they couldn't do up some higher poly count models for the select screen is baffling, since nearly every racer since the original Gran Turismo has done it.

Say for a moment though that you're one of the few people left who actually enjoy Ridge Racer type games (what the hell is wrong with you?), you'll probably have some fun with this game. There are 5 circuit courses where you race laps, and 2 downhill (or hill climb, you can race any track in reverse) where it's just point A-B. There's a really cool in-car drivers eye view where you see the dashboard, gauges, rear-view mirror, even the windshield wipers and part of the hood, and each car has it's real life interior! This is cool for about one lap until you realize that the dashboard obscures so much of the screen that you can't see enough of the track, so it's basically just a novelty. There's also a limited championship mode where you can "customize" your car a little, and I mean very, very little. If you like stickers though you'll be happy with the customization, that's about all you get to do.

I realize that Battle Gear 3 was originally an arcade racer, but in my opinion that's no excuse for being a bad game. Side By Side Special, while being horribly outdated with equally appalling graphics, is infinitely more fun that this. I wish I would have spent the money instead at the local arcade playing that!

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

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