Remember the Simpson's episode where Homer designed a car that bankrupted his brother's company, Powell Motors? Top Gear RPM Tuning might just be the videogame equivalent of The Homer. It's bloody hell.

Well maybe not that bad but I doubt that you already have this game. And I doubt that you'll ever get this game. And I doubt that any of your friends have this game or ever will get it. I also know that none of you drive a Homer so I'm not that far off the mark.

Kemco used to rule with its Top Gear series but times have changed and Top Gear hasn't. It can't even begin to compare to the competition that it spawned with games like Burnout, Street Racing Syndicate, Midnight Club and Need For Speed. These are polished, high tech, racing games. It looks as though the developers gave up halfway through completion of Top Gear and said, "Enough's enough. Just get it out of here." Kemco knows it's an inferior product and that's why you can buy it for twenty bucks. But don't. It's not worth it. You will spend a quarter of that on a rental that you will play longer than this one.

At least the controls are good in Top Gear. The vehicles handle nicely but that's about it for any positive comments. Customizing vehicles not only changes their appearance but does affect their performance. There's not as many options as in the above-mentioned games but at least the basics are covered: wheels; engine; body, and paint.

The story mode is like an amalgam of every bad B-movie ever produced. From the coma-cool persona of the title character, Vince Riker, to the wizened, Kris Kristofferson lookalike, there are enough cliches in this game to choke a horse. (Get it? That last statement itself was a cliché. I'm so brill.)

As with all street racing games the premise doesn't venture off the beaten path. You compete against other racers to qualify for championships. Here you'll earn money for upgrades and new cars. You will also increase your "fame" rating by beating tough opponents and modifying your vehicle's appearance. Each championship involves some four different races. You have to win them all to move on. Get caught by the cops and you have to start all over again from the beginning. This is something you don't ever want to do more than twice.

During the race if you find yourself at the rear of the pack it's almost impossible to take the lead regardless of what you do. If you're really behind the CPU will wait for you to catch up and once you do you forfeit the right to pass - or so it seems. Only when you use the nitro can you gain on the lead. Even then the other cars will conspire against you by trying to knock you out of the race. If you manage to grab the lead, you will always be trailed by a vehicle that's just waiting for you to make a mistake.

The tracks are so basic that they look as though some kid made them with a track editor. Aside from a few twist and turns there's not much of a challenge to make them interesting. Graphically they environments are simplistic and boxy. The buildings are low res and the incidental traffic is composed of unbelievably ugly looking vehicles. At least the main, unlicensed vehicles don't look nearly as terrible.

Bad voiceacting and looped techno music round out the cheesy production values. Don't let Top Gear's past glories fool you. There's no good reason on God's gray earth why anyone would want to play this street racing game when there are so many good ones available.

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System: XBOX
Dev: Babylon Software
Pub: Kemco
Released: Feb 2005
Review by Kelly