Street Racing Syndicate
Game Info
Platform(s)
GC, PS2, Xbox
Publisher
Namco
Developer
Eutechnyx
Genre
Racing
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Language, Mature Sexual Themes, Simulated Gambling
 
Grade
The Good

• Nice physics and control
• Open-ended cities to race in
• Lots of depth in the garage

The Bad

• Repetitive and mediocre music
• Graphics could be more impressive
• Doesn't feel all that fast

 
Grade
C+

After the release of the newest installment to their Ridge Racer series, which proved to be more sim than arcade, Namco looks to be putting their fingers into the import racing genre, a series of games that has grown since the release of the movie The Fast and the Furious and various games like Need for Speed Underground, Midnight Club 2 and Tokyo Xtreme Racer. Developed by Eutechnyx (Test Drive Le Mans), this new title does what Namco apparently wants: it gets them established in yet another genre/sub-genre. Rather than going with the arcade angle, though, SRS works at the realistic aspect of the genre.

Present in Street Racing Syndicate are your various modes, including the pick-up-and-play Arcade mode, multiplayer and the street mode, which proves to be the heart of the game, starting with the bare-bones of a story to pull you into the fleshed out career mode. Once in this mode you'll be able to race in one of three open-ended cities, including Miami, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. While you can partake of random races by just flashing your beams to other racers on the road, there are also events that you can partake of, including Respect Challenges, Street Challenges and Cruise Zones, to new a few.

Taking part in races will earn you a lot of things, including money and respect, which is good for unlocking more things. During these races, you can wager money against other racers. Along with money, you gain Respect points by gaining positions in the race, finishing laps in the lead and through various other means. One of the more unique things that you can unlock and collect (much like baseball cards) is girlfriends. Win a race under their conditions and you can add these girls to your stable. While this is a nice addition to the game, most of the girls are pretty fake looking (too much silicone and makeup) and look too trashy to be much of a distraction (I felt like I might get a STD just watching them).

As with many racing games, SRS benefits in having a large cast of licensed vehicles to choose from, including Mitsubishi, Toyota, Subaru, and Volkswagen. I would have to wonder why Honda (and the Civic, which has become synonymous with street racing) wasn't a part of the game. On top of the large selection of cars is a grand selection of after-market parts and accessories that fans of street racing will be familiar with. In fact, with all of the customization and tweaking available in the game, you may find yourself spending A LOT of time in the garage. So much so that you may wonder if SRS is actual a street-racing garage sim rather than a racer.

Because of all the tweaking you can do, SRS has no choice but to handle and drive well. If not, all your work in the garage would be a waste. Thankfully, the physics and handling are dead-on and really take some effort to learn well if you want to succeed. The control scheme is the standard racing scheme, so racing fans won't have to struggle with any odd schemes as they take a hold of the strong physics engine. My only complaint with the controls is that the races themselves feel a lot slower than they should be.

Visually, SRS presents a nice-looking game world. If you've played the Ridge Racer series before, then the racing world around you has the same look and feel to it. There's a nice bit of detail in the surrounding world, though the "recently rain-wet" look of the streets is a nice effect that feels like it gets a bit over-used. The cars look good, even if they do look a little underdeveloped compared to some of their competition. One of the nicer touches is the inclusion of realistic car damage when you smash-up, but it's mostly for show as it doesn't convey what "real life" damage would happen to a car wrecking at the speeds this game goes at. The human character models in cutscenes are rather bland, but fortunately they don't show up enough to be an annoyance. The overall graphics package does well, but never really pushes itself past what some of the competition is doing visually.

Audiowise, SRS benefits from a good variety of exhaust and gear shifting sounds, be they varied or subtle, which gives a good, hearty life to the racing. While the quality sound effects do their part to bring life to the game, the soundtrack does all it can to ruin the experience. The mediocre music feels like a rather shallow attempt to be "real" but just manages to come off weak and altogether annoying. And, it's not that the bulk of the music comes from genres that I don't like - it's more that the music fails to have any style that doesn't feel manufactured. On top of that, the songs get repeated WAY TOO OFTEN.

In all honesty, SRS proves to be a good start for Eutechnyx and Namco. It not may push itself to the forefront of the genre, but it does prove to be a good start for them and will tide racing (and more specifically street racing) junkies happy until some of the more established titles come out later in the year.

- - Vane

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