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Street Racing Syndicate

Developer: Eutechnyx | Publisher: Namco
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 08/31/04 | Genre: Driving

Rockstar is a company that is definitely ahead of the times. They pioneered the gaming industry into open ended adventures with the insanely popular Grand Theft Auto series. They also led the way for racing games with Midnight Club racing series. But Rockstar isn't the only one helping out the new street racing genre. EA has been the most successful, besides Rockstar, with their Need for Speed Underground series. Unfortunately, not all developers have been successful in their attempts in creating titles in the genre. The latest example of this is Namco's own Street Racing Syndicate. While there is nothing terribly wrong about the game, it just doesn't do anything to improve the genre.

Like most racing titles, there are a variety of gameplay modes. These include Arcade, Multiplyer, and Street. Players will spend the majority of time in Street. In this mode there are some story elements and you can gain the support of girlfriends, get respect points, and gain cash. Only by gaining piles of cash will you be able to upgrade and repair your vehicles. This is an important element of the Street mode. To gain more money, you can make bets with other racers before racing. But be careful when trying to get in front of everyone and win the race. Any damage you do to your car will have to be repaired.

As players progress through the Street mode, they can customize their vehicles using real brands. So if you feel the need to change up the weight in your car or play around with the exhaust system, Street Racing Syndicate will give you a little something extra to do. Personally, I usually do not enjoy this type of feature.

The girlfriend aspect of SRS is a bit disappointing. For the most part, to gain the support of a girl, you have to unlock a Respect challenge. These challenges include things like following a car but not hitting it or catching air for so many seconds. Complete the challenge and the girl is yours. However, to keep their support, you will have to race well. Racing well can also allow you to steal other girls from other drivers. This aspect of the game was something I expected a little bit more out of.

Visually, the game is pretty nice looking. All of the pavement in the game has a wet look to it and players will get a nice blurring effect when using their nitrous button. The GameCube version of the game is actually the worst looking of the three with Xbox being the best and PlayStation 2 being second. For the Cube, it just seems that the port to the system wasn't handled that well. The frame rate is not as consistent as the other two consoles. Some more time was needed for the Cube port. Also, despite being the most underpowered console on the market, I was shocked to see how well the PlayStation 2 version stacked up. Because of this, it appears the developers spent the largest amount of time polishing this version of the game.

AI in the game is pretty good. However, when players get tired of that, if they have the PS2 or Xbox version, they can take to the streets with up to three other players online. Be careful when racing online against opponents because you can end up losing your car. In the most interesting online mode, players can choose for a Pink Slip Race. Win the race and your opponent's car is yours. Besides this, the online mode just makes the races a bit more competitive. There aren't any other features that stand out.

With over fifty licensed cars in Street Racing Syndicate from Lexus, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Subaru, and Nissan, players have a ton of different vehicles to pick from. The great thing about this is that since each car handles differently, you can give yourself new challenges with different vehicles.

Overall, SRS is not a bad game. However, it fails to stand out against Midnight Club or Need for Speed Underground. If you are a die-hard racing fan looking for a new game to try out, this title may be the one for you. However, everyone else should rent it first before shelling out the cash to add it to your library.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 09/24/04
ESRB Details: Language, Mature Sexual Themes, Simulated Gambling
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Screenshots for Street Racing Syndicate

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