|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sumo Digital||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Presentation-wise, the game runs smoothly, but otherwise there's nothing too impressive about it. As the road approaches you, the textures seem to come via time warp from two console generations ago, and the roadside props look incredibly fake. The latter is particularly true of the cacti on the desert tracks, which pop up and fall to the side like cardboard cutouts when you run into them. The cars and shadows look decent, though.
The sound work is acceptable, if similarly unimpressive. The engine roars sound fine, but when they fade in and out as cars approach and fall away from you, the effect is unnatural. There's music playing during the menus, but nothing particularly catchy, and for some reason it shuts off during gameplay.
Of course, it's not all bad; the game creates a great sense of speed, auto-saves after each race, offers a good challenge starting in the third set of races, and in a lot of ways walks the line between sims and arcade racers perfectly. The A.I. cars are a little too meek to begin with but become more aggressive as the difficulty increases. The tracks are quite nice, with lots of twists and turns to keep you on your feet. It would be unfair to call this a cheap knock-off of its next-generation brethren with the same name.
The fact remains, however, that this is far from a great title. It won't top end-of-the year lists, and it won't become a cult classic. The graphics and sound are too threadbare, the first half of the game too easy, and lack of online support and realistic damage too disappointing.
CCC Freelance Writer