Review by Fossil
Reviewed: 12/07/04 | Updated: 08/28/08
Fastest racing game of all time, who wouldn't love it?
Made my Lucas Arts, it lets you re-live the famous race that ensued in Episode 4: The Phantom Menace. The game itself is very fast paced and requires fast reflexes in order to handle the tracks and obstacles you will encounter along the way.
For those of you that don't know what a "Pod Racer" is, basically it's 2 jet engines held symmetrically close together with electromagnetics. The cockpit is connected by 2 flexible poles that connect to the engines. It's weird and frankly I don't see how it's possible for those to even work, but oh well. :\
Gameplay - 9/10
The game is great fun for those that are looking for a different kind of racing game. You pick a pod racer and jump into the races. As you progress through the game you get new pilots to pick from and better upgrades to make your Pod Racer blow the competition out of the water doing over 1,000 mph. How many racing games give you that kind of speed to toy with?
There's a huge variety of tracks that you will play. Most though you will find, end up taking place on other sections of an earlier race. They all have their ups and downs and take place on about 6-7 different planets to my knowledge. The surroundings when you race can have their effects on you as well. Lava will cause your engines to overheat, water may cause you to slid or obstacles may force to you to take the long way around, putting you behind.
Parts are fun to upgrade. The farther you advance in the game, the more expensive the parts get. Every now and then you may find deals on parts after races that come into the junkyard. Some will be garbage, but others will be in bad condition, but one of the most powerful upgrades available that is NOT available to you in the shop. The only downside is a damaged part requires some racing to fix it up and make it 100% effective again. You can repair your Pod Racer while racing but as a sacrifice your speed is dramatically reduced to repair the part so it can function properly.
That is another thing in the game that makes it challenging is Pod Racer "fatigue", I guess you could put it. For example, if you play a level that requires a lot of turning and braking, when the next level comes around the response time for cornering may be dramatically less and the power of your brakes may be depleted. You can buy droids as the game goes on to repair your Pod Racer before the end of the race, but I wouldn't depend on them for much if you're having a hell of a timeon some tracks.
Multi-player isn't much. You race each other, that's about it. You can see who's Pod is faster in a 1v1 race or do single Time Trials and prove who is the better racer, etc, but in my opinion it's mostly a one player game.
Control - 7/10
Being this is a pod racing game... you'd suspect the controls might be juuuust a lil iffy. CORRECT. The Nintendo 64 literally got the joystick popular with consoles. And playing with a joystick can be a real chore if you have an old, used and abused one with a horrible dead zone. Being able to take those sharp corners in the levels is an absolute must.
The controls might take sometime to get down. The basic setup isn't hard to memorize, but getting used to performing precision turns through 90 degree tunnels the width of your podracer... will take some time. Learn the secret of e-braking as well. It's not so much e-braking, but power slidng the podracer in the direction you are wanting to go. Then releasing it to give you a huge boost. Time is your friend, let it teach you!
Graphics - 8/10
For a game of its time the graphics were pretty good. Everything is pretty well detailed and the frame rate for such a fast paced game is impressive. The game may tend to lag at certain times in races depending on how much is on the screen and what is going on. Being so fast paced you may tend to lose track of which way you're going and run into a wall. Which then you'll need to repair your Pod Racer to keep from blowing up or something. There are some nice visuals throughout the game which gives a nice vibe to the gameplay and provides relaxing racing at times.
Sound - 8/10
The music is different, but that's expected for a game in the Star Wars series. It can help provide a pretty suspenseful race during the last lap if you're in a heated fight till the finish line.
The sound effects are nicely toned. The engine sounds are beautiful and boosting adds the feeling of a powerful vehicle in your grasp. You have environment sounds as well such as Magma flow, waterfalls, Raiders taking shots at your Pod Racer as you speed down the valleys of their territory.
Replay Value - 6/10
It's actually a pretty long game to play and with so many Pod Racers, races and shortcuts in the game you could spend hours taking the time to look for the perfect path to take advantage in a hard race. Or perfecting your cornering if you constantly slam into walls doing 500 mph.
I find it fun to compete with friends in Time Trial to see who can get the best times on tracks and prove who rules. Competition is what most games are about and this is the perfect thing to have at it with.
Overall - 7/10
A fun game to rent for the weekend if you want something new to play with your friends. It won't add much value to your collection if you think you'll be playing it for longer than a couple dozen hours. Like most racing games, it's fun up until you beat it and then it will just become the same old same old.
Product Release: Star Wars Episode I: Racer (US, 05/18/99)
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