Supercar Street Challenge Review
How many Need For Speed games have we seen? And how many Test Drive games have we seen? While the Need For Speed series always showed its strength, the Test Drive series slipped a little with the sixth in the series. Thus far, I've enjoyed every Test Drive title to hit the Playstation (excluding the first two Off-Roads). There are a lot of other racers that try to do what the Test Drive series and Need For Speed racers feature; some fail miserably, others do an average job, but still seem like cookie-cutter effort. Of course we are bound to encounter arcade racers that feature nothing but fantasy vehicles (in other words, cars no one will ever own). Just last summer, prior to the PS2's US launch, Activision announced Street Lethal, which would later be renamed to Supercar Street Challenge. It's been over a year since the game's announcement and the final results, in a word...suck.
Looking back at August 2000, and now, the difference in the graphics then and now seems non-existent! Did Exakt even bother to touch the graphics engine after the first screens of SSC were revealed? This game is lacking absolutely everything it takes to be a solid looking racer. First of all, the backgrounds are incredibly weak. The trees look like fuzz and the texture detail is horrid! It makes me wonder how could Activision even approve of this product for publishing? The frame rate jerks when pulling off sharp turns, and can eventually become nauseating. The car detail has a few things going for it, but overall it's a pretty stale package to say the least. The backgrounds are tripe! I've never seen such unrealistic structural detail in a videogame. The Rome stage for example has a polygonal structure of the Coliseum, and the destroyed portion of it looks like a triangle was cut out. I sure know I wouldn't be settling for lousy detail like that, as it is obvious that the visual engine in SSC was completely half-assed, and I'd like to hear someone say otherwise!
What pains me most about Supercar is that it has a great virtual styling studio in the game, where the gamer can literally build his own car from various pieces, and then later acquire dozens of other accessories by completing races. You have a default design, you can take that design change its headlights, rear lights, morph the front and back of the car (as the screenshots demonstrate), change how you want the side to look, change the mirrors and a few other inclusions. SSC features a total of 12 vehicles, such as Callaway C12, Vision CTEK K/2, Fioravanti F100, Pagani Zonda C12s, Bertone Pixster, Rinspeed E-Go Rocket, Pontiac Concept GTO, Lotus M220, and the monsterous Saleen S7. All of these cars are concept vehicles, or just too damn expensive to be purchased. Since no actual specifications are given to these vehicles, SSC features absolutely no sim aspects. I think it would be fair to say that this game really feels like a Test Drive title. Unfortunately, this game provides absolutely no challenge. And to be quite honest, the track detail is incredibly bad! There are 23 courses that are set through 6 cities, London, Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, Munich and Monaco. Everything just feels so tedious and redundant; I didn't feel the least bit of inspiration to play through the game's career mode. I'd honestly like to know what Activision was thinking when they hired Exakt to develop a racer. This is a 3rd party developer, clearly with no experience in the next generation world, as the only game they've been responsible for creating was Ghost in a Shell for the Playstation back in 1997. Supercar Street Challenge is an uninspired game that's got only one thing going for it; the styling studio. If integrated into future racing games, this is certainly one feature that would be widely accepted in good racing games.
Bleck, ack, yuck, P-U! What is this? I mean, I felt that that SSC was a Test Drive clone, but to borrow the game's soundtrack as well? I've found a couple of songs that I've heard in Test Drive 5/6 and Twisted Metal 4. Back then they were good tracks, but now they're incredibly worn out. The techno/rock beats just don't cut it anymore for me, this game needs an actual soundtrack. How about some diversity in the soundtrack by including bands such as The Ramones, Rolling Stones, American Hi-Fi, Linkin Park and Godsmack. The engine noises just don't fit the bill either. It's really disappointing.
The control is easily the best aspect in the game. In fact, it's this and the Styling Studio that are the only aspects that keeps this racer from being one of the worst racing titles I've come across. Maneuvering your vehicles around the tracks is a simple task, as there are absolutely no simulation aspects to be found anywhere. Though with gameplay this wretched and tedious, the control has absolutely no effect on the gameplay, positively speaking. If you've played Test Drive, then you know what to expect. Then again, why would you even want to come near this racer?
Initially my expectations for Supercar were pretty high. I was looking forward to playing this game in its full glory, but instead what I got was a half-assed project with awful visuals, lackluster gameplay and a rehashed soundtrack from other games. Boo, I say! Boo! There's always room for innovation in the racing genre, but if you're going to publish a game that offers little to nothing new in terms of actual gameplay forget about getting your title anywhere. SSC ultimately suffers from poor track designs, incredibly tedious gameplay, and a non-existing challenge. It's a shame that features as good as the Styling Studio was used in a videogame as bad as Supercar. Stay away from this racer, folks. Unless you have absolutely no respect for yourself, wait for Test Drive or Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 to come out early next year.
11/7/2001 Arnold Katayev