1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: Star Wars Episode I Racer: A Review

Monday, January 30, 2012

Star Wars Episode I Racer: A Review

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The Star Wars Episode I Racer game is another one that I've spend countless hours on, it's one of the best racer games from its era, and it's based off of that relatively short sequence in the SW: Phantom Menace movie, where Anakin takes his pod against some aliens, amongst the canyons of Tatooine. It features a lot of references that will make the fans of the movie happy, and an excellent gameplay to top that off. 


The Tracks: The game naturally starts with a race on Tattoine, that closely resembles the areas seen in the movie, the home stretch with the spectator's seats, the caves with stalactites that you have to dodge around. From then on every race is pretty much set on a different planet. There's the Cloud City, some mining colonies, a whole plethora of alien worlds, with their unique look and feel.

The Pods: In total there's over a couple dozen playable characters in the game, all with their unique pods. Before each race you'll choose your reward scheme. That is, because in the movie the money gathered in the races is based off of gambling, before the race you can choose whether the 1st place gets all the money, or weather its redistributed between the first four places. If you finish first as an added bonus you'll win a pod racer, I believe it's the home-planet's pod racer, but either way it's a different one with each race. On top of that there's upgrades for your pod, that play on that flying pint-sized alien guy's repair shop from the movie. After each race you'll have an option to either upgrade your pod, repair some old parts, or replace them entirely. There's a good list of twenty or so parts that can be swapped around, and each time you make a change you can see your pod's statistics like boost/acceleration/traction/cooling before and after, so it's easier to choose the right upgrade for your money. In that manner, sometimes it might be beneficial to swap a better piece of gear that's been broken up for an inferior one, but of a better condition.

The Gameplay: Star Wars: Episode I: Racer handles pretty much like any other racing game if you took it and supercharged every vehicle. The speeds achievable through the pods are unlike anything else you might have seen with possible exception of the Wipeout series. The controls are exciting with two sets of steering, one that forces your pod to turn left or right, and one that forces it to pivot around its mid-section length-wise, to help with the steepest corners. Also if you use the second set, when facing a crash you'll sustain much less damage, than if you simply slam your left or right engine against a wall. The boost is activated with the Shift button on the PC, as soon as you reach a certain speed, and it temporarily speeds you up to almost double, but in this mode your engines quickly heat up and if you don't let go of the throttle, before the counter reaches a maximum, they'll explode and set you back a good few seconds before you're back on the track. Keep in mind, though that it takes time for them to cool down again, and some parts of the game require you to boost up to clear a jump. All of this together makes for a unique and exciting racing experience, with tight twists and turns, that require your attention at all times.

All taken into consideration SW: Racer is an excellent game, it's fun, exciting, the racing never gets old, and even though I myself had made a habit to clear the whole game with just Anakin's yellow and blue pod for the first half (because of it's light and maneuverable body that makes it easier to handle at top speeds) and another one that I've forgotten the name of, you can have countless hours of fun trying out different pods. The Star Wars references in-game are a nice touch, other racers will yell at you in their alien languages, if you overtake or crash into them, and Anakin will scream 'It's Working! It's Working!' every time that you repair your pod mid-race after a crash. All of this makes it  a wonderful game for both the fans of the series and anyone who enjoys racing games, alike.  


6 comments:

  1. Sounds rally good, gonna try to find it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. PC, and there's an N64 version, methinks. But the N64 version is redacted from the side of videos/soundtrack.

      Delete
  3. yea me either, must of slipped by :(

    ReplyDelete

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