Street Racing Syndicate

Namco is desperately trying to come up with a top-notch racing game that belongs in the same sentence with franchises such as Need For Speed and Burnout. While Need For Speed: Underground really revolutionized the concept of late night street racing along with being able to customize your ride, it doesn’t mean it’s the only series that will attempt to cash in on one of the most successful genres in videogames. However as the release date draws closer, does SRS really have what it takes to burn rubber with some of the best franchises around? Take a nice ride through our SRS preview and you can decide whether Namco will be able to take on the likes of EA.

When Namco decided to make a street racing game, they didn’t wimp out; they took out some big bucks and got Street Racing Syndicate over 50 licensed cars. Many of these are big name companies such as Toyota, and Nissan. Although they went through the trouble of getting street legal cars, they didn’t forget us bad boys who want some illegal action. Some cars can be picked up that are not street legal, but as long as no one finds out, it isn’t wrong is it? In addition to the variety of cars, is the varying car parts which you can purchase to make your ride much more pleasant. Many different companies like AEM were more then happy to allow Namco to use some of their tuning kits in the game. Gamers who are familiar with Need For Speed Underground will know just how much control you have in making your car the way you want it to be.

SRS starts out with you taking the role of a street racer. After the cinema scenes you will start out with quite a handful of money that you should use to purchase your first car. You’ll probably have some leftover cash that would be best used in upping the performance and style of your ride. Once you are done with your car selecting and modifying you will have to go to either LA, Philly, or Miami. After this, SRS is just like most other street racing games. Head out to a crew meet, race and win, then collect some cash. Unlike NFS: Underground however, SRS also adds a pretty interesting feature called “Respect”. To put it in layman’s terms as you race and win you will gain popularity that will allow you to take on other people in races. The higher the respect the more places you can go and the more people you can challenge.

These crew meets that I mentioned above aren’t free. You have to pay to get in. How do you get the money? Well you could always just find some sucker on the street and race him for money. This is where SRS takes some pointers from Rockstar’s Midnight Club. Fans of those series will know that when you want to race a person on the street you can pull up behind him and flash your headlights, then the race will begin, the same is for SRS. However if you remember Midnight Club you will also remember the cops who from time to time chase you as you street race, the same will happen in SRS, the cops will be keeping an eye on you.

Since Street Racing Syndicate is headed to the Xbox, what would the game be without the inclusion of an online mode? Well don’t fret Xbox Live owners, because SRS comes with an online mode that will have you head to head against people over the world. The most interesting aspect of the online mode is the ability to take a risk and bet your car against another Xbox Live user’s car. Basically if you lose the race your car will be gone, no matter how hard you have worked for it, the winner of the race will keep his ride as well as yours. Namco has said that the entire online portion will not be like this, but it is a welcome addition to all those brave enough to try it.

One thing I haven’t talked about it the physics engine and graphics engine of the game. These are both important criteria’s, as fans of the Burnout series will tell you. The way a car gets damaged during a race and how it looks adds a certain depth to the game. SRS is not one to be left out, so expect to take some damage during races that will affect the performance of the car. Also the cars will be what they are. There is no way a stock car will ever be able to win against a tuned up Skyline GTR. The graphics look up to par with many of today’s racing games. The cars each resemble the model it was chose to be. The lighting effects also are done very well so don’t be surprised when you are racing in the night and you see the shadow of another racer because of the light from the lamps.

SRS certainly has improved in almost every category. Namco has said that all versions of the game will all feature the same things, but we know it’s a good choice to stick with the Xbox version, as Live will play a key factor in the games success. This game will go head to head against some of the racing genres biggest franchises, so you better watch out EA, and Rockstar. Look for the game later this August.