Curly Monsters



NGEN Racing Review

By: John Doe

Where did this game come from? Everything I do revolves around video games and I had never really heard about this title until it showed up on my desk. That was weird right there. The fact that it was a Jet fighter racing game set in the future, was weirder still. And to top it off, the strangest thing of all, is that the game works well in all areas. I'm as surprised as you. NGEN Racing could be that title that scratches that little itch you have.


The more I try to master this game, the more I compare it to Gran Turismo and Ridge Racer. The game allows you to play either with Arcade or Pro controls. As you might imagine, Arcade controls are more forgiving, allowing beginners to get into the game easily while Pro is more demanding but ultimately more satisfying in the long run. I started with Arcade and worked my way up to Pro, which I highly recommend. Now before you think it blasphemy that I compare this jet engine game with two of the greatest video racers of all time, may I suggest you play it for yourself? Playing the game in Arcade mode does give you that feeling of Ridge Racer. It's challenging but easy enough to get the hang of after a few initial races. Pro mode allows you control over every aspect of flying. Of course, if you are thinking that you'll be able to fly a jet after playing the game, you are sadly mistaken. Needless to say if you did entertain the thought of taking one for a joyride you had better 1) order your tombstone beforehand or 2) pray the cockpit of a jet has a Dual Shock controller inside it. Once you master the Pro mode, you'll find the later levels easier to make it through, than if you stick with the Arcade mode because Arcade control limits your movements. Once you get into the modifications of your jet, you'll begin to see the intricacies behind the game, thus providing you with a little Gran Turismo like attention to detail that will allow you alter the jets exactly to your liking.

As you fly around the tracks (highlighted by glowing spheres to keep you in line) you'll be able to pass through either orange or green rings. The orange rings provide much needed AfterBurner power which is added to your Afterburner meter. The green rings provide health which is added to your health meter. Your jet will take damage if it collides with the ground, bridges, mountains or other planes, or it can also be hit by weapons in Jet Fighter mode. Each race in Arcade Mode begins with a one-lap qualifier race, which determines your position once the real race begins. The better you do in each race the better your position will be in the next race and the more points you will earn. Once you've fooled around in Arcade Mode, which is great fun, head over to the real meat and potatoes: NGEN Racing Mode. This is where jets are bought, sold, modified and raced, which is where my Gran Turismo comparison came in. You can take the available craft for test flights before purchase. Once you make up your mind you can then try and obtain the "permits" for each class of aircraft.

NGEN Racing Mode offers 5 modes of play: Championship, Club Race (compete against the same make of craft for cash), Time Trial, Majic-12 (time based tests in pre-determined craft for cash prizes) and Free Flight (fly anywhere, no limits or objectives). With all of the modifications available, tinkerers will have their hands full for quite awhile.

The most impressive feature of the game, is not that it is a solid racing title, but how well the framerate stays constant, providing an enjoyable yet different experience. The terrain in the various levels isn't exactly eye candy, but it does the trick and the pop-in is relatively non-existent. The level designs are very well done, with earlier levels providing a small learning curve without being frustrating, while the later levels will give you that feeling of "just one more time, I know I can do it!" rather than hopelessness. The soundtrack is exciting, pumping up the game with some techno-style tunes that are suitable to the genre.

Infogrames pulled this one of out of a magic hat it would seem. I don't care for flying games, but NGEN Racing is different enough and superbly executed to appeal to racing fans across the board. I promise if you spend even just a little time with it, you'll be hooked. This game is deeper than you think and better than the majority of futuristic racing titles out there. Definitely give it a try.






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