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January 4, 2002
Alpine Racer 3 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
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Actual in-game graphics.
Alpine Racer was a pretty big hit in the arcades a couple of years ago. This was mainly due to the arcade cabinet using two ski's to determine your direction by leaning either left or right. It gave the game a sense of realism and fun rarely seen in the arcades. But the home conversion lacks this input with control now put back on the Dual Shock 2 controller. This Playstation 2 port of Alpine Racer 3 includes nine different courses to race on either with skis or snowboards. Apparently Namco even used satellite date to faithfully reproduce actual courses from the Alps.

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There are some nice effects.
Alpine Racer 3 includes five different game modes. The bulk of the game comes in the Extreme Winners Cup which allows you to qualify for races before entering tournaments. Other game modes include Cross Racing, 1 on 1 challenges, Slalom Races and the fairly standard Time Attack mode. By winning races you earn credits which can then be used to upgrade your equipment including snowboard and skis. Their effect on yoru speed is noticable, however all the other riders seem to have a similar speed increase negating their impact other then making the races harder due to increased speed.

It is possible to increase your speed while racing by pressing the circle button, and as you would expect this limits your movement and turns. One of the major problems with this game is that as soon as you manage to get any speed up there seems to be a sharp turn in the course or a series of trees or trains to send you flying. The game just lacks any real sense of openness that you would expect with a snow based racing title.

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A holiday resort?
By far the biggest disappointment with this game is the trick system, or lack thereof. Tricks are simply performed by pressing the circle button while in the air. There is no complexity at all, and certainly no variety as in games such as SSX Tricky making this game very dull in comparison. Why exactly they would leave the trick system in the game to start with confounds me, it should be all or nothing. What we have here is the first inkling of a trick system that doesn't even work. Why bother with it?

Given that this game was released in Japan in 2001, and has no planned release in America it isn't surprising that the graphics fall well behind expected Playstation 2 standards. Surprisingly however all is not lost as there a couple of nice touches. The eight selectable characters themselves are varied enough, but don't have anywhere near the personality or graphical flare of those in SSX Tricky. The backgrounds are littered with objects and obsticles, perhaps a few too many at times and while their modelling is average it looks adequate. The different times of day and weather for the races also give each of the tracks a very different look, although there really needed to be more snow and/or rain considering the racing conditions.

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The lights look.. adequate.
Sound in Alpine Racer 3 is adequate. The character voices are corny however the announcer is accurate enough during the races to let you know how you are going. The music is upbeat but typical Namco quality - that is, slightly annoying and low quality. Sound effects are also fairly weak.

If EA Sports BIG hadn't released SSX Tricky then this game would have seemed like a fairly good effort. Unfortunately, in every single department this game fails to come even close to Sony's title - and retails at a higher price. If you really love the arcade game then Alpine Racer 3 could be an enjoyable purchase however most casual gamers would be better served with the far superior SSX Tricky.

GRAPHICSOccasional frame rate issues, average characters and backgrounds.
SOUNDLots of wooshing, adequate music and poor voices. Disappointing.
GAMEPLAYThe controls aren't responsive enough and the trick system sucks.
VALUEWill take time to unlock everything, but the rewards are pointless.
OVERALLThis game is quite disappointing especially considering SSX Tricky has been released for over a year now, and is considerably cheaper. If you really like the arcade game then this port will keep you happy, but EA's title is much better if you're just a casual snow racing fan.

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