SONY PSP REVIEW: STREET SUPREMACY

A full tank of gas and nowhere to go. by Colin Thames

March 7, 2006 - Street Supremacy was developed by the same people that brought you the Tokyo Extreme Racer series but the street racing formula has been changed in this version. Let me break that formula down for you into a format that I call the three Cs. Compact + Compress = Crap.

It's obvious that an exact port of Tokyo Xtreme Racing would be too much for the PSP to handle, so Street Supremacy was hatched as it's smaller sibling. It's similar in many respects - but mostly only in theory. The game suffers from long loads, poor control and an unplayable multi-player mode. There are even more problems which I'll get into later.

Street Supremacy, at its core, is just not a good racing game. The vehicles which include Toyotas, Subarus, Mitsubishis and Mazdas looks decent enough but the vehicles control like cruise ships. They are sluggish and unresponsive. To set this game apart, there is an RPG element to it that lets your character level-up as he wins races. It's not that we actually see any improvement in his handing of the vehicles as it just allows us to take on higher level opponents.

Unlike Tokyo Xtreme Racing where you could drive around the freeway and look for racers, in Street Supremacy you are forced into racing a specific group of opponents. Instead of working for yourself, in Street Supremacy you join a racing gang that takes on rival gangs for control of territory. You race against rival members that are in your class, earning experience points to level-up and money to purchase upgrades such as paint, exhaust, spoilers and stickers as you win. I have not been able to prove that any of these upgrades make any difference in performance. In my opinion they are just cosmetic.

There are no rewards for second place. Only the winner gets the goods and the glory. However, most of the races are won by what I would call default. Each player has a life meter of sorts which is part of the Spirit Point System. It's similar to the system in Tokyo Xtreme Racing, which drains as you sideswipe objects or crash into wall. Most importantly, points are drained at a rapid rate should a racer fall too far behind the leader. The longer that lead is maintained, the faster the meter drains. When it's out of juice the race is over. Trouble is that the majority of races end this way. The vehicles you are racing against are either too slow or too fast which means that someone will have their meter drained before the leader reaches the finish line. This in not only terribly unbalanced in terms of gameplay, but it means that the races aren't very long.

Load times are outrageous. With some of the races lasting only 30 seconds, the menu selecting process and the load times can be longer than the actual race. And it's not as though the tracks are full of detail scenery. The 3D perspective is good but the backgrounds are dull and generic looking. The lack of stimulating visual detail is a serious drawback since there so many repeated graphics and textures that it seems like you're driving on the same tracks repeatedly. The racing gameplay isn't good enough to hold your interest but players would still get some kind of thrill exploring the environment if it at least looked interesting.

Races are confined to Ranking and Team races. In Ranking races you are competing against members of your own team for pecking order. This is your chance to rise through the ranks. Eventually you will race the leader of your team for control of the gang. In this position you will have some team management issues to oversee such as team loyalty, recruiting rival members and taking over territory through Team Attacks. All of this is accomplished through racing. Beat a rival member whose loyalty is down and you can convert him to your side. Conversely, if one of your members is thinking of defecting you can increase his loyalty to you and your team by beating him in a race.

Territory is taken from other weaker teams in races that pit your five best racers against their five best. Don't go up against more powerful teams because if you lose you will also lose the respect of your teammates which will require that you race them individually to build up their moral. Win the races and you will not only win the territory but you will gain recruits which will give you better racers to choose from when competing against the remaining gangs. There are 13 rival gangs and 150 different racers. That's can add up to a lot of racing, especially if you don't very well in the Team Attacks and have to start racing all your demoralized teammates. In other words, it can be a real grind.

Wireless Ad Hock multi-player is beyond strange. When you go head-to-head against another player what you see on your screen is not what the other player sees on his. It's two totally different races. You might have already won your race but your opponent is still racing in his game. It's as though you're both receiving wireless signals from other unseen players - perhaps from outerspace or the great beyond. Whatever it is, it's definitely weird. Some kind of CPU/AI malfunction that I can't explain. Just consider it unplayable.

The colors could be a lot brighter. Some areas of the environment are hard to make out. The sense of speed is not bad but it's slow enough to show off the environment; too bad there's nothing to show off. The sound effects are realistic and the techno music isn't bad either. But it's going to take a lot more than a good audio track to save this game. Personally, I wouldn't even rent it. I'm pissed enough as it is having wasted five hours of my life playing it for this review. The things I do for you…

Features:

  • Street Supremacy's 'Team Battle' mode divides the game map into 15 areas, with teams vying to dominate the game map.
  • Battles are divided into individual races between the different Teams and individual racers, with points awarded for each victory.
  • Players can judge who to select against specific rivals, cherry-picking their rivals from the player roster as they look to seize territories.
  • The 'Team Battle' also encourages competition within each team, as winning racers are upgraded in their side's rankings and become more instrumental in helping secure areas of the game map.
  • Cars can be modified to give you an edge in the races.
  • The game's authentically modeled Nissans, Mitsubishis and Subarus can all be enhanced with new exhausts, engine upgrades and body kits.

By Colin Thames
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Street Supremacy (PSP)
3.4
Graphics
The vehicles look good but they lack sparkle. The tracks are dull and boring.
2.4
Control
The vehicles steer like cruise ships. They are not very responsive.
4.3
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The audio is good but I just wish the gameplay was given the same attention.
1.5
Play Value
Don't even think about the multi-player mode - it's obvious the developers didn't.
2.5
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: Genki
Pub: Konami
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1- 2
Review by Colin

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best