Street Trace: NYC Review

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Publisher: Gaia Industries
Developer: Gaia Industries

Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

In the near future, war has destroyed cities everywhere and corporations have taken control of the remnants of civilization. And how does the generic counterculture youth respond to this generic, dystopic, corporate-controlled future? By engaging in hoverboard races and urban combat among the ruins of New York City's X warehouses and crumbling highways.

Kyle Ackerman

Postapocalyptic sports are the best sports. But postapocalyptic sports should involve cars with skulls tied to the hood, or mutants knife-fighting with hands bound together. Disaffected youths on skateboards that hover above the ground don't have quite the same punch. Whatever the trappings, Street Trace: NYC is fundamentally about racing and battling, mixing a few basic skateboarding moves (like grind rails and flips) with an assortment of weapons to shoot targets or knock other racers off their boards.

Street Trace: NYC isn't bad, it's simply a case of getting what you pay for. For $10, it will give you more entertainment than comparable games being released for twice that much on the PlayStation 2. But don't expect a fully-fleshed racing and combat game that compares well with full-price Xbox 360 releases. The characters are generic and shallow, the controls could use further tuning, and (despite being in 1080i HD) the textures are flat (the flags, for example, are jarringly basic). There are technical issues, as well. The game crashed my console several times, but always while leaving a multiplayer match. I was still able to play online tournaments, but needing to restart the console to play another match decidedly costs the game points.

Ordinarily, I'm a huge fan of combat racing games. I enjoy being able to compensate for my inability to stick perfectly to the groove or master every single corner on a course, by smacking the lead car with a rocket launcher. Street Trace: NYC is a little harder to control than the typical combat racing game, but you still get those satisfying rockets, as well as a pulse laser, mines and bouncing ordinance known as a "stampede." There are a lot of different game modes, ranging from straightforward races to all-out arena combat, and everything in between. Street Trace: NYC includes a slew of slightly different modes ranging from keep-away to flag races. Some have you taking down targets customized for each weapon, while others just demand speed and coordination.

A variety of the game modes can be tried for speed, to gain a rank on the Xbox Live leaderboards, but Street Trace: NYC is at its best when playing tournaments. Tournaments are competitions for up to eight players that explore a series of events in turn. Not only will players race and battle, cash and power-ups are scattered throughout the arena. These can be used to improve a player's weapons and board statistics to best fit individual playing styles and grab that competitive edge. The fact that it's sometimes worth throwing an individual event to gain the cash to win later events makes the overall competition more interesting.

While the game is entertaining, there's not a lot of content. There are only three arenas and three race circuits. After a few matches, most players will have developed the patterns that let them win every time, or will give up in frustration. It's entertaining when you can find a few human foes, but unless you are determined to have the best time trials of any player on Xbox Live, it's unlikely to hold your attention for a long time. But what would be a dismal failure as a $50 or $60 retail release is a decent $10 purchase.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 29, 2007 4:58 PM.

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