Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 04/23/01 | Genre: Driving
Electronic Arts recent release Rumble Racing takes their NASCAR license, and puts it through Mattell's Hot Wheels filter. The result is a fun, repayable racing game.
Some of you may be familiar with Electronic Arts 1998 release Beetle Adventure Racing for the Nintendo 64. Rumble Racing is very reminiscent in many ways. While the cars are not directly licensed, they all look like they could be either be at home on a showroom floor, or the living room floor as part of little Johnny's Hot Wheels collection.
One of the keys to Rumble Racing's gameplay is not only the liberal use of shortcuts, but also pulling off stunts. The more spectacular the stunt, the more of a speed boost you receive. The further you get into the game, this becomes more important. After a while in some of the later tracks, you need to keep a constant speed boost going to win.
Rumble Racing features the requisite multiple tracks, and multiple cars. One-player modes include championship, single race, stunt challenge and showdown. Championship mode, you race against other cars in a series of races. This is where you unlock the tracks that can be played in the other modes. Single Race, is you versus other drivers on one unlocked track. In stunt challenge mode, you race a single race in one of three tracks vying for the highest score. Showdown is you and one other vehicle. One track, one lap. Enough said.
The game also has these same features in two player mode, with the addition of co-operative mode. You and a partner (the second player) race against other CPU teams. Combined scores are tallied to determine the outcome.
There are a total of 12 championship cups in the game. Only by winning a gold cup, do you unlock the next cup and subsequently next track.
Cars range from a souped up mini van to a French mini. They are naturally unlocked by winning the championship series. You start out with a nice selection of cars though.
The power ups are rather various, and thankfully not as prevalent as they could be. Both shortcuts and power ups are used without going overboard, so the game has more of an "arcade rather than a "kart" feel to it. Some of the power ups include:
Big Hit: you vehicle's front bumper turns into a battering ram
Shield: Invincible - sort of a no brainer
Bad Gas: The person that runs into this will suffer a decrease in speed.
Twister: A tornado shows up in front of you, clearing the way for you to get from last to first place.
Power ups aren't going to stick around for ever. They only last for about 30 seconds. The same goes for hoarding them. If you pick one up, it will only be available for use for 30 seconds. If you don't use it, you lose it.
The tracks themselves look nice, although I did expect a little something more from the PS2. Some of the tracks seemed unnaturally short in length. The locales are wide ranging, from the canyons, to the farmlands, to the docks, and one location that looks like the LA viaducts. While graphically pretty, the tracks don't have a heck of a lot to show for the advancements the PS2 graphics chip provides. While well designed (you absolutely need to find the shortcuts to advance in championship), the storage of the DVD could have been better maximized to lengthen some of the courses.
The music is also one of the few weak points, since there isn't much variation in the music. I wish that EA had gotten some songs, or at least varied up the mix. I eventually turned the music off, and played CD's while racing.
One of the more interesting features is the smart-alleky type comments provided by Jess Harnell (Animaniacs). Instead of a running commentary, there are the occasional blurbs given by somebody who could be your passenger. After a couple of hours, hearing the same 25 phrases gets to be a little old. Thankfully you can turn this feature off. Turn it back on though in 2-player mode.
Despite the shortcomings, this is a rather addictive arcade style racing game. The addition of co-op mode is a great variation, and most welcome when you want to play with somebody. While by no means a "must buy" for the PS2, it is one of the more fun games out there now, and a very welcome addition to any library.