April 10, 2001
Vanishing Point (DC) - Review
After playing Acclaim's god-aweful Ducati World I was extremely apprehensive about Vanishing Point, which arrived in the mail from Acclaim on the same day. Fortunately this isn't just a much better game then Ducati World, it's better then most other racing games on the Dreamcast. While gamers have been hoping for Namco's Ridge Racer to appear on the Dreamcast, and that will certainly never happen now, this is as close to that game as we will get. Vanishing Point has a very similar look and feel to Namco's classic game. It's an extremely fast and exciting racing game, which is exactly what gamers love.
|Starting with the Ford Explorer.|
The first time you play Vanishing Point you will be scratching your head in confusion as you car slips and slides as if driving on ice. Starting with only 2 cars (Ford Mustang Cobra and the Ford Explorer) out of 16 they are hardly the most exciting cars to race. Initial controls seem overly floaty with cars sliding all over the place and having little weighty feel to them. Given time, and a bit of practice, the racing style soon grows on you to the point where the game becomes and absolute joy to play. The racing circuits are populated with many other cars and collisions are a common occurrence. Fortunately, the collision detection is very good although the resulting crashes, spins and flips occasionally seem either too severe or slightly under whelming.
While playing Vanishing Point I was constantly thinking of Daytona USA, which is expected to be released on the Dreamcast in the coming months. The high quality of the graphics and the control of the cars are almost perfectly match Sega's arcade racer. However, unlike most other racing games the task in this game isn't to beat the competitors, but to beat the clock. This task is made all the more difficult by not only other competitors on the tracks but also the public. Whenever you complete a race in first place, in either the arcade or tournament modes, you unlock new features which may include new cars, new tracks, new movies, new game modes or new options such as tuning your cars etc. Hardcore gamers should also get much out of this game with almost all the games features needing to be unlocked. That's no easy task either, with you having to finishing first in each race to progress.
|Some tracks are extremely detailed.|
The variety of game modes in Vanishing Point is extremely impressive. As well as the standard arcade and tournament modes the game includes an excellent Stunt Drive mode where you are given a series of tasks to complete, not unlike Crazy Taxi's Crazy Box mode. Each challenge successfully completed is given a score out of 100 and to progress tot he next challenge you must achieve a certain score for all the completed tasks. Multi-player modes in Vanishing Point are also well implemented with head-to head racing and challenges. All in all Vanishing Point is a complete racing package.
|Lime green? Not really my colour.|
I think that anyone would be hard pressed to fault the graphics in Vanishing Point. Running at a constant 60fps this is probably one of the best looking games ever. Some more texture detail on the cars would have been nice, but what we have is more then adequate. The tracks are varied and are definitely very similar to those found in Namco's Ridge Racer series with bridges, buildings, planes and plenty of canyon walls. Taillights blur as cars spin around sharply and skid marks are left all over the tracks.
When it comes to music and sound effects Vanishing Point also manages to impress. The music has a trancy feel to it which manages to keep the game up-tempo, but never becomes annoying. Sound effects such as car engines and skids are also impressive with just the right amount of realism. The only (very minor) downside is the lack of ambient effects from around the circuits.
|Expect some wicked banks and turns.|
Some people may criticise me for the relatively high scores I have given this game. The physics aren't the most realistic ever seen, but it is a lot of fun and thats what matters most in a video game. Vanishing Point also quite challenging and should keep you entertained for weeks as you unlock all the secrets. After initial concerns, Vanishing Point soon turns out to be one of the most enjoyable racing games in quite a while. As soon as you unlock the car tuning options everything becomes much easier, and more enjoyable then the first few hours of play. I can't recommend this game enough to racing fans. Well done Clockwork Games and Acclaim.