November 30, 1999

Speed Devils - Review

Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating RRP
Online Mode Difficulty Save Size Rumble 60Hz PAL Border
NoneAverage9 BlocksYesYesSmall

With games such as Hydro Thunder, Sega Rally 2, Formula 1, Trickstyle, Tokyo Highway Battle and UbiSoft's other two racers Monaco GPR2 and Suzuki Alstare Racing due before Christmas, it's definitely a crowded racing market. UbiSoft also have another racing game Speed Devils which has been released to an eager Dreamcast audience.

Speed Devils is a pseudo-sequel to Speed Busters on the PC. Although not a true sequel, the game has several extra features and enhacements over the PC version. But first impressions of Speed Devils make you wonder whether you have just wasted you hard earned money. The intro sequence is fairly average with the video quality not dissimilar to that found on the Playstation. Soon enough things start to improve, and rather dramatically.

Speed Devils is an arcade styled racing game. Don't expect the precise car dynamics found in games like Gran Turismo on Playstation or Sega Rally 2 on Dreamcast. This is one of the most fun racing games in quite a while. Speed Devils has several modes of play, including arcade and 2 player modes. But most of the time you'll play the Championship mode where you start with a very old and damaged car. During races it is possible to earn money to upgrade and repair you car. This money can be earnt by finishing well in the race, as well as bonuses for the fastest lap, highest speed or longest time in the lead. Upgrading your car is essential in order to progress to a higher racing classes. Upgrades can be made to the tyres, brakes, engine, nitro's just to name a few things.

The Championship mode also has an option to place bets on some of the races. These range from breaking a radar gun speed at a certain point on the track to staying ahead of an opponent or finishing the race in a certain position. While most of the bets are for money, occasionally a vendetta challenge will be offered where the winner will get the opponents car.

As with most racing games, the 2 player option usually provides the greatest thrills. Ubisoft have included several 2 player modes in Speed Devils to separate it from other racing games. As well as the standard 2 player race there are several variations including an interestig battle mode where you earn points according to how well you can block or get past your opponent. Other modes of play include the brilliant distance lag where you have to get a certain distance ahead of your opponent or the equally fun time lag mode where you have to beat your opponent to the checkpoints. Unlike a lot of racing games the graphics in the split screen 2 player mode are very impressive with no apparent slowdown.

Speed Devils has a wide variety of tracks on offer. There are a total of 13 tracks accross 7 themed areas which include the likes of Hollywood, Nevada and Aspen. Different weather conditions such as rain, fog, snow, sun are also available as well as different times of day such as day, dusk and night. But the best feature, and the one that sets Speed Devils apart from the other racing games, are the natural disasters. For example, in Hollywood, you will come face to face with a T-Rex, King Kong and a large shark while in Nevada you will come across the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and UFO's in Area 51. It would have been nice if a few more tracks had been included, not because there are't enough, but because the tracks are so interesting that the game leaves you wanting more.

The graphics in Speed Devils are quite amazing. The game runs at a steady 60fps and the details on each track is very impressive. In fact the only minor niggle with the graphics is the jerky movement of some of the obstacles such as T-Rex and King Kong in particular. One neat feature of the game is the ability to choose the paint job on you car. Each car has a selection of about 15 different paint designs. It doesn't add a lot to the gameplay but it's a nice touch.

It's a bit of a shame that the music in Speed Devils doesn't match the quality of the graphics or gameplay. The sound effects in the game are however, excellent. While driving on different surfaces there is a different noise which is the same as you would hear in real life. The ambient sound effects are equally impressive. Drive past the lava pit in Mexico and you will hear the rumble of the lava flowing past the road. The hang glider in Aspen lets out a scream of excitement as he flies over you car through the mountains.

Speed Devils is a brilliant game. In fact, it will probably be the best racing game on the Dreamcast for some time. It's unfortunate that UbiSoft didn't include more tracks in the game but apart from that this game is almost faultless. Trust me, you'll love it.

Graphics Sound Gameplay Value Overall