Kinetica
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
SCE Santa Monica
Genre
Futuristic Racer
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Sugg. Themes
Grade
The Good

• High-speed action
• Good variety of tracks
• Inventive racing concepts for tracks and Power-Ups

The Bad

• Harsh difficulty curve
• Some bits of slow-down
• 2 player view is hard for racing

 
Grade
B+

Kinetica follows a long line of futuristic racers, like Wipeout and Rollcage, which have tried to convey a sense of speed while keeping a futuristic theme intact by presenting well-done racing environments. In Kinetica, racers actually become the racing vehicles as they wear Kinetic Suits, outfitted with wheels, to allow them to race along twisting tracks, lined with loops, jumps and boost pads.

Graphically, this game is solid. The tracks are well designed and the environments look great. Lighting effects really aid in creating a convincing futuristic racetracks. There is also a fair bit of ingenuity here - instead of just taking curves and jumps, the player also will go up walls, run through tunnels and even ride embankments. In fact, some of the Power-up icons are located along the track walls and the player must ride up the side of the wall to collect them. The only real rough spot is when racing on the more organic tracks (Lost City, Cliffhanger). Rocks and trees don't seem to have the same refined look as the more rigid cityscape tracks. Also, there are rare moments when you'll experience framerate slowdown, most noticeably when multiple racers are on-screen, fighting it out.

Gameplay-wise, Kinetica is not a straightforward racer. Running from start to finish will most likely earn you a loss. Gamers must be savvy and learn the numerous techniques, like Boost Siphoning, Turn Grabbing and Drafting to beat out your competition. Two of the most important elements, Power-ups and stunts are handled such that they don't immediately fall into traditional stereotypes. When picking up Power-ups, the player must either grab 5 yellow crystals or one purple crystal to activate one of the few Power-ups (Super Boost, Burst Attack, Faster Stunts, etc.). While the Power-ups won't immediately win you the race, they will help if used correctly. Stunts, both ground and aerial, aide in gaining more boost power, so learning how to pull them off without crashing also takes some skill.

Racing, in itself, is the greatest challenge in this game. The opponents are smart. They'll perform stunts to gain boost and use Power-ups to gain advantage as if they were human racers. The controls take some time to master. You'll immediately find that you can't slap the analog stick left or right to make successful turns. Until you gain a firm grasp of the controls and how the track is laid out, you may only win by luck alone.

Outside of the slight moments of slow-down and the weaker development of organic tracks, the greatest problem (if you can call it that) for this game is the steep learning curve. Beating the first couple tracks does not immediately translating into placing well in later unlockable tracks. Until you spend some time mastering the various skills and learning the layout of the tracks, expect to finish in the middle of the pack. While this is not a bad thing, less race-hardy fans may grow frustrated without the immediate gratification of victories on recently unlocked tracks.

Kinetica is a fun racing game with a lot of challenge. The 2-player aspect of the game is limited by the poor field of view (which would have been better handled with an i-link and two TVs), but the single player mode is serious futuristic racing at it's best. Once you master the skilled aspects of the game, you'll truly be able to enjoy the excellent environments whizzing past you at unreal speeds.

- - Vane

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