RC Cars Review

| | Comments (0)
Publisher: Whiptail Interactive
Developer: Creat Studio

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB video card, 300 MB HD space

Having just wrapped up Smash Cars for the PS2, Creat Studio moved their tiny racers over to the PC platform in an entirely different (but essentially the same) game. RC Cars allows you to take control of Remote Control (RC) cars in their natural and not-so-natural environments.

Carrie Gouskos

At the opening of the game, your only option is to grab the one available car and start racing. The gameplay branches off into four different modes as you progress: Championship, Quick Race, Ghost Race and Multiplayer. Championship is where the money is, but it's a two way street – you can lose cash as quickly as you can gain it. Quick Race is basically an exhibition mode, and is a safer place to get comfortable with the car physics and the various tracks. The "Ghost" in Ghost Race is supplied by your previous efforts on whichever track you choose, so it becomes a time trial with a twist. Multiplayer allows for two people to play on the same PC via split screen display or for one player to play online with up to six players. Unfortunately, tumbleweeds perform rather poorly behind the wheel, and you'll have trouble finding more than tumbleweeds online. From my experience, you'd need to schedule a match in advance to play online, but that might change in the future.

RC Cars handles a little differently than traditional racing games. The diminutive nature of your ride means every little bump in the terrain presents an invitation to spin through the air and land on your hood. The physics are even more delicate than in other RC games (Re-volt is the most notable one that comes to mind), increasing realism and frustration in kind. The physics demands you practice driving if you intend to make any headway in Championship Mode. Each race in Championship after the first requires you to ante up for the entry fee. Needless to say, losing in Championship Mode is not good business. Again, the best way to hone your skills is in Quick Races.

Be Wary of Jumps With Your Tiny Vehicle

Controlling the car isn't too complicated, with only two important buttons (other than the directional ones): boost and jump. Boosting helps keep your car on the ground and makes up for time lost from making mistakes (that some of the computer controlled cars do not). As long as you know the tracks well, race generally error-free, and lean on the boost button, you're guaranteed success. The jump button, used for hurdling small objects that often wind up in your path, isn't as useful as one would expect. Throwing your car into the air also throws it off-balance, and landing safely is an obstacle almost as formidable as the one you jumped to avoid in the first place!

There are ten total tracks, which is not a lot, but they are varied and interesting enough to provide ample enjoyment. Tracks range from a military base to a tropical beach or even a deserted ranch. The environments themselves are beautifully rendered and have a surprising amount of detail, considering that this type of game doesn't necessitate such high quality graphics. The RC car appropriately collects dust and washes off clean when traveling through sand and water, respectively. There are also quite a few interactive elements, both good and bad for your car, that you'll run into on each track. Besides maneuvering around tricky environments and hazards, there are humans that will kick you or (on the military base) shoot at you, and even dogs that attack. Contact with these or any of the larger objects on the course will send you flying and seriously impair your chances of winning. Fortunately, there's some chance of recovery if you haven't run the perfect race. If you're upside-down, the jump button gets you back on your wheels (which seems to be its true purpose), so that you can quickly be on your way. If you're in a deeper rut, your only choice is to hit the Reset button that will send you back to your last checkpoint, which is going to have seriously adverse effects on your chances at the checkered flag.

Kick Cans for Cash

As you race each track, you're encouraged to come in contact with other cars and discarded soda cans as often as you can without jeopardizing first place. If successful, the text "Hit!" or "Great Hit!" will appear on the screen indicating that you've received a bonus for the contact. If you place in the top three, you'll get a hit bonus in addition to the cash prize for your placement. Money is used to purchase additional cars or upgrades to your own car's booster, engine and tires. If you screw up, you can downgrade your parts for a minimal loss and choose something else. You can even sell your starter car if you'd have enough money afterwards to purchase one of the two others.

There's a fair amount of racing required to upgrade and move on, which would be fantastic if the racing were extremely compelling. However, with all of the variables involved, racing is often quite frustrating, and you're more likely to spend more time trying to get back on track than actually on it. It is beautiful-looking, and the only recent RC game for the PC currently on the market, so if you're a big fan of RC games, you should give it a look. Frustrating difficulty is very rarely the same for everyone, and the performance curve may sit well with someone seeking a real challenge. At just under $30, RC Cars is more easily recommended than if the price were higher, but considering that Re-volt is now freeware, still needs to be a considered purchase.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Editor published on January 20, 2004 1:19 PM.

Coliseum Review was the previous entry.

Game Changer for GBA SP Review is the next entry.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Add to Technorati Favorites