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December 15, 2002
Auto Modellista - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
2/12/2002THQCapcom1-2G8+Easy
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
?KBStereoYesYesSmallNo

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The cars produce skids and smoke.
By now you would have seen the surrounding screenshots - how could you ignore them. Before you dismiss Auto Modellista as some obscure Japanese kids game let me tell you that this is a serious racing game, with a solid physics engine and very customisable cars. In fact players can change the cars tires, brakes, suspension, turbine kit, suspension, muffler, computer and transmission among other things. All tuning parts appear in the game along with their real names while it is also possible to add various parts such as mirrors, wheels, decals to change the appearance of the cars.

The choice of cars isn't limited either with over 60 vehicles to select from includining cars from manufacturers including Mazda, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Subaru among others. Thanks to the detailed physics model each of the cars handles very differently in their speed, acceleration and grip to the road. Most of these cars are available from the beginning however some manufacturers remain unlocked until you progress through the game.

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Cell shaded visuals are intriguing.
Auto Modellista is split up into several game modes including Garage Life, Arcade, VJ Mode and Options. Arcade mode is fairly straight forward and allows you to enter single races as well as multi-player games. The VJ mode, although initially appealing, is merely a replay mode where you can alter the look of the replays of races. This includes the camera angles, effects etc but in reality won't keep you busy for too long. Sadly, there is no option for online racing as in the NTSC versions of the game. That leaves PAL gamers with the Garage Mode is where you'll spend most of your time as this acts like the career mode. In this mode you have a choice of cars, as well complete control over the setup. Once you have you car its into the races against 7 other cars.

When it comes to the actual game everything handles very well. The AI of the opposing cars is adequate but the game is set way too easy, even on the hardest difficulty. My very first 2-lap race in medium difficulty with 7 opponents saw me win by almost 1/3 of a lap from the next car. Collision detection seems accurate enough however the collision physics could have done with a little more work. Even the smallest nudge will often send your car way off course or into a wall.

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Yes, in-game graphics are very good.
Much has been made of this game being online in Japan, and indeed the American version scheduled for March 2003 will also include online gameplay - albeit through a 56k modem rather then broadband. Unfortunately we PAL gamers miss out on everying which isn't surprising given the lack of online gaming here. But with the American release delayed until March 2003 it's surprising this game isn't coming out to co-incide with the PAL PS2's online launch around that time, or just a little later.

Dubbed Artistoon, the graphic style of Auto Modellista is certainly unique. The problem is, I'm not sure if it's nice or not. The game maintains a solid 60fps, and the backgrounds look nice, but the cars seem to lack detail. Sure, it's cartoony, but these just seem to be flat slabs of colour. Having said that the graphics are excellent from the point that they are unique. There are no other games that look like this, and for that I must comment Capcom for trying something different. The reality is however, that many gamers will be turned off by the graphics.

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In the shadows.
Despite not including Surround Sound of any kind Auto Modellista still has much impact on the ears. While the graphics may have a cartoon style to them the engine noises are very much realistic. The announcer sounds like those in the Sega games, although much less annoying while the music is a fairly solid mix of light rock and sounds great. Sound effects, and that's mainly car collisions are soldi enough, but lack some impact.

An interesting game for sure. There is massive potential here but - dare I say it - this game really is screaming for the online mode. I can just imagine the fun with this game online, but sadly we are only given split screen here. With a sequel already in development this game is probably only for those who like something unique, or for die hard racing fans tiring of the Gran Turismo titles. A worthy game that demands a sequel - with online gameplay in PAL territories.

GRAPHICSYou'll like it or lothe the graphic style, personally I think it's great.
86%
SOUNDThe music and speech is adequate, but the car engines are impressive.
80%
GAMEPLAYIt's fun and addictive, but you'll keep thinking about the graphics.
72%
VALUEToo easy in single player, it should have been held back to get online.
60%
OVERALLAuto Modellista is an acquired taste, not due to the gameplay, but rather the graphical style which many people may not appreciate. This game really misses the online gameplay which holds it back from being a great title.
70%

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