previews\ Oct 21, 2003 at 8:00 pm

R: Racing Evolution - XB - Preview

When in doubt, just hit the accelerator and go.

Fundamentally, what more does one really need to know about a racing game?

R: Racing Evolution is the pending Xbox release from Namco. Jumping into the beta build for the game was a bit of a challenge, simply because the majority of the interface was in Japanese. But just like these high-powered machines hugging the corners of the tight tracks, that did not put the brakes on launching and enjoying the game.

The game is basically your standard racing game, featuring dynamic lighting, and incredible car models. There are 14 tracks in the game, ranging from real world tracks to fantasy locations. The tracks featured in the arcade portion of this game (four of them) were the sort that will challenge drivers, not only in how they set up for the tight turns, but how they maneuver through traffic, find the line and push beyond the competition - all with the pit crew telling you to burn some distance or get the trailing car off your bumper.

Other features include licensed real world vehicle, such as Peugeot 206, the Lancer Evolution VIII, Dodge Viper, Honda NSX or BMW McLaren F1. Each car set is for the eight different racing modes of play, which include GT, rally and Drag.

There are four game modes, which include Racing Life (a story mode), Time Attack, Arcade and Versus (two player head-to-head).

There is a standard array of options familiar to most racing enthusiasts. You can, for example, shift manually or lock the transmission into automatic for fluid shifting on the fly. You can also customize your vehicle set up.

The sound of this game is very good. There is the high pitched whine of the engines and you can actually judge distances of vehicles based on the sound. The music in race is basically a techno-dance blend that is designed to drive the game.

The default view is the third-person rear bumper perspective, which works for the most part, but you can also bounce the camera around in the game.

R: Racing Evolution was tested with both a gamepad controller and a wheel and both performed well, though the wheel seemed a little off center (may be the wheel setup needs to be realigned), it was the easiest to use in the game.

Graphically R: Racing Evolution is a wonderful bit of eye candy. Initially, the overview of the track was not as great as the in-game view. Surface textures, the shadows cast by the cars blurred by the surface whizzing past and the sun reflections off the high sheen of the cars all combine to make this a game that is a delight to look at.

R: Racing Evolution has depth of play, and it is a treat of the eyes and ears. While the preview disk was somewhat limited in terms of overall game modes, from the glimpse seen, it appears that R: Racing Evolution will take that green flag and power through the turns of the genre to challenge for the checkered flag.

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