Midway has an incredible cache of games but it seems to be running out of steam in this, the third compilation of arcade treasures. To that end the company has decided to make this a theme compilation of some of its best racing games. It's certainly worth a spin around the block but I wouldn't be so quick to take a two-week road trip with it.

There are some hit and miss titles here that drag the overall score down. The physics and control vary wildly and no more is the lack of consistency apparent than when compared to other racing games in this anthology. Some games are so different you would think they were developed by different companies.

Since this is a collection of nothing but racing games, certain ones such as Stun Runner look awful when compared to Rush 2049. And I'm not just talking about graphics. The gameplay, the control system, the mechanics are sloppy and dated. Some of these older games should have been sandwiched in with other compilations that are more general in scope.

The San Francisco Rush series steals the show. The other games are just filler compared to it. Although I did spend a lot of time playing Race Drivin' in the bar that I frequented for a number of years, it just couldn't hold my interest. The trip down memory lane was short and sweet but this is costing me money so I need a lot more out of it than just a nostalgia trip. The excitement just wasn't there.

The arcade experience isn't easy to re-create. Sometimes it's more than just the perfect emulation of a game. There's the psychological aspect of being in a place other than your home, possibly with friends or interacting with strangers. The fact that you only have a dollar and you have to make it last might generate more excitement than unlimited continues. Maybe there's the prospect of talking to some hot girls or getting into trouble with a few of your buddies at the movie later that evening. These are feelings and emotions that can be associated with some of your favorite games. Playing them out of context can sometimes result in disappointment because they can't convey those experiences as deeply. When you strip all of that away you might find that you just don't care for the game.

San Francisco: The Rock is an updated version of the original game. It's good enough to make some memories of its own. In it you drive like a maniac through the crowded and hilly street of San Francisco launching yourself off of ramps hundreds of feet into the air. With a cartoonish look and pure arcade physics it's reminiscent of Crazy Taxi. It's faster than the original and contains new shortcuts but it doesn't have a multi-player mode

On the other hand, Rush 2049 is loaded with a variety of modes including Stunt Mode, Ghost Mode and a four-player deathmatch in Battle Mode which is played in split screen. It's a mechanically solid game that runs at a smooth and consistent framerate of 60 fps.

Off-Road Thunder has its moments but there are so many other off-road racing games out there that you'll feel like you're on the appetizer impatiently waiting for the main course. For a slight diversion, Hydro Thunder takes you off the road completely and lets you skim the surface as you race your craft on the open water. The physics is very one-dimensional. It may have been innovative in its day but it's too dated now to make a good impression.

Only those trying to elicit an emotional attachment to these games are likely to get anything out of all them. The rest of us will just have a mediocre time and will have to hunt down a few cases of Pepsi and chips to fill that emotional void.

System: Xbox (shown), PS2, GC
Dev: Midway
Pub: Midway
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by StewXX