reviews\ Nov 19, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Road Trip: Arcade Edition - PS2 - Review

When people think of Role Playing Games, the first things that come to mind are Drow Elves, Vorpal Blades, and Cloudkill spells.  Conspiracy Entertainment wants kids to start thinking about SUVs, quick-slip transmissions, and phat rims with their hybrid racer/RPG game, Road Trip.  This highly creative title combines the adventure of The Legend of Zelda with the racing of Gran Turismo 3 for a game that is sure to leave kids buckled in and glued to their television screens. 


The Road Trip world is like an amicable version of Stephen King’s vehicles-come-to-life movie Maximum Overdrive.  There are no people in this world, just vehicles that talk, run businesses, and play games like you and I.


The game begins with the President of the Road Trip world declaring his intention to resign and offering the presidency to anyone who can beat him in a race.  The catch?  You’ll need to acquire a Super-A class license in order to race against him in a World Grand Prix race, and thus begins your vehicular quest. 


Higher class licenses are acquired by driving from city to city and competing in various races.  Cars can’t compete in particular races unless they possess the license required for the competition.  Finishing sixth or better (out of a field of 24) in all of the C-class races rewards racers with the B-class license, allowing participation in the B-class races, and so on.  Finish well in a race, and not only do you drive away with a glove compartment full of cash, but you’re that much closer to getting your next license. 


With the money made in races, cars can be upgraded in a multitude of ways.  Cars can be outfitted with over 250 parts, including new engines, tires, and even alternate speedometers.  The incredible amount of customization in the game keeps the game fresh through hours of gameplay.  Gamers can paint cars to their liking, transform their compact sedan into a pink Cadillac, and add spoilers, turbo engines, or wings. 


While road tripping from city to city, adventurers will encounter other cars offering side quests, services, or idle conversation.  Cars may ask players to help them find a new city to build a storefront, accomplish a task, or join their racing team.  The system works very well and there is no shortage of tasks to be completed.  Completing the various side quests grants racers a stamp for their massive stamp books or items used to decorate their garage. 


Several cities reside in the world of Road Trip, each with their own character.  Some cities have Las Vegas glitz and glamour; others are more reserved with an ancient Japanese temple motif.  Even with all the variety in the cities, they could be a little more detailed.  Most of the houses and buildings in each city are repeated, and several of them are there just for looks. 


The graphics of Road Trip aren’t spectacular, but they suffice.  They are very simple and cartoonish, but work well with the idea of the game.  The cars look like Micro Machines and stand out because of variety as opposed to quality.  Racers will see everything from sleek sports cars to bumbling garbage trucks in their travels.  There are points in the game where there is nothing but road and green grass with little to look at, and seeing as traveling from city to city can often be an ordeal, it can get a bit boring without eye candy on the side of the road.


The weakest portion of Road Trip is the sound.  Aside from the screeching of tires on the road and the bubble-gum pop on the car’s radio, there really is little else to listen to. 


There are more things to do and collect in Road Trip than in most games, and gamers will either find this fascinating or menial.  There are 100 tasks to be completed to fill the stamp book, 100 souvenir photo booths to visit to have your automobile’s picture taken, and several auto parts to add to your car.  Cars can even participate in mini-games such as soccer or roulette.  Fans of the Pokemon craze or other card collectors will eat up all the tasks, whereas veteran gamers may be left scratching their heads.  I really don’t see how any young gamer with even a remote interest in cars wouldn’t absolutely adore Road Trip.



Gameplay: 7.5

The driving engine is minimal, which is great for younger audiences.  There is never a lack of options to pursue in the game and sub quests come faster than Michael Andretti.   


Graphics: 6.5

Most of the world is boxy and minimally detailed, but the amount of custom features to upgrade your car’s look is astounding.


Sound: 5

The sound effects don’t add anything to the game, and the radio stations are clearly targeting those born in the early 90’s. 


Difficulty: Medium

It’s pretty easy to jump into the driver’s seat and get rolling.  Completing all the tasks is going to take some serious hours though.


Concept: 9.5

The combination of RPG and racer is brilliant.  Upgrading and painting cars is a blast.


Multiplayer: 5

There is a head-to-head racing mode, but with such a simple driving engine, the multiplayer mode should stay in the garage.


Overall: 7.5

Road Trip is clearly aimed at kids, and will provide plenty of hours of entertainment without the incessant “Are we there yet?” talk.   


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