Review by Jopezu

Reviewed: 11/01/99 | Updated: 11/01/99

one of the best racers for the n64

this game actually gets a 9.1

this game is quite good in my opinion. it never takes itself too seriously, but on the other hand you may wonder why since it's among the best racers for the system (w/ diddy kong racing, waverace, top gear rally, star wars 1)this game delivers in every category.

graphics-

the most attention has been directed towards the cars themselves. with more polygons, real time lighting and sleek reflective surfaces the cars shine despite the fact that they are all basically beetles. the backgrounds, meanwhile, have a slightly more polygonal look to them (roads, trees, etc.) with the exception of some "in-the-spotlight" background attractions (a t-rex, crash-landed ufo and more). another thing that i would like to mention as far as graphics is concerned is the floating point operations approach to graphics. people who are unfamiliar with computer graphics will probably have overlooked or won't fully appreciated the power of the graphics engine that is implemented in BAR. for example, in the game, if you hit a box (preferably in the middle of a huge jump with an intricate layout below) and immediately pause the game, you are treated to a spectacular 360 degrees "freeze frame" rotation. if you notice there are over 15 broken box pieces that each have been texture mapped and are frozen in space. the whole scene has been frozen and is rotating perfectly with no clumsy jerked or graphics distortion. awesome! despite the fact that the graphics are top-notch, you may not even have a chance to enjoy it due to the great level design and point system that will keep you on your toes constantly.

sound-

the music is mostly average (with the exception of the catchy coventry cove beat)and falls below quality when compared to the sound effects. the effects are very nice in my opinion. frozen lakes groan and crack, glass convincingly shatters over the pavement, chain link fences rattle and the cars sounds are on spot. what amazed me was the dynamic range (mainly the bass) in the sounds- the guttural reverb of the t-rex growl for example. there is a cheat that can be opened that allows you to hear all of the effects in the game. instead of having one particular sound for an event (such as the uhh uhh uhh ahh uhh uhh in older fighting games) paradigm has opted to use several variations of one sound effect- there are 6 or more "breaking box" sounds to keep the smashing from getting monotonous. the music is par, sound effects believable and commentary a bit on the echoey side.

controls-

ah, yes. a happy medium has been found. part simulation, part arcade. there is no annoying technical 'world championship driver' oversteering and out-of-control spinning (which may shine with realism, but is continuously frustrating)or superbly unbelievable 'rush' city-hopping, although there are some nice, long jumps. the game is technical to a certain extent, such as, when power sliding, once you've spun 180 degrees, you must counter-steer to spin the full 360 (i smiled when i discovered this). the handbrake aspect adds a whole new flavor to power steering- set it to "insane" and do a couple of 1080's for good measure. a captivating "in-between" feel of sim and arcade has been successfully achieved here. my only gripe is that due to the speed, it is entirely possible to inadvertently drive up a wall or building and slowly float back down (obviously not utilizing the cars weight into the equation), but this is nicely countered with the "get me back on course in a hurry, please!" feature activated by the L button.

course design-

goldeneye had its multiplayer, starfox had its massive speech library, turok had its unparalleled animation, and BAR has its level design. the single most outstanding part of the game is the massive complex courses. the first times i careened through each level there were two recurring themes- 1. i'll take that route next lap, and 2. wow, it's a whole other course i've discovered here! this game will definitely spin your head with its shortcut riddled layouts and alternate route possibilities. one or two tracks more couldn't have hurt, however.

multiplayer-

another winner. very well designed battle arenas. the weapons, layouts and premise of the beetle battle is top-notch. it's doesn't feel like most games that apparently have taken certain elements from the single player mode and have thrown it all together so that "multiplayer" can be stamped on the box. is its very addicting, exciting and customizable. the games track associated battle fields are available by an unlock feature (3 are available at no charge), which makes sure you play the game and strive for excellency (my hat goes off towards ea/paradigm for not letting players pop in the game, toy with every code and feature, get bored, go grab a burrito and watch tv). beetle battle seems like the icing on the cake and definitely rounds out a nicely polished product.

overall-

you can't go wrong with BAR. its stands firm with the best so far, and though it may stack up comparatively in most categories with other racers, its track design is definitely the most intuitive (and best in my opinion). a well rounded, excellent package.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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