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GameCube Reviews: Speed Kings


Speed Kings Screenshots

The Final Say!

Speed Kings
Review Date: 10 September 2003
Review Score: 8.0/10 
Distributor: Acclaim

Speeding through traffic on the wrong side of the road performing the unthinkable on a motorcycle.  Like sliding under trucks, doing wheelies, endos and those difficult surfing manoeuvres which to be honest I could not make heads or tails of.  The premise of the game is brilliant and the racing thankfully is just as thrilling.  The sense of speed is incredible and weaving in and out of traffic and even hitting them will give you a speed boost just to add more of an edge to the overall game.  Yes this game is undeniably enjoyable.  If you love speeding and living on the edge but donít have many points left on your drivers license, give this a go. 

With ideas taken from road rash where hitting your opponents and the thrill of illegal racing like in Burnout, Speed Kings is a great way to unleash the wanton desire to do everything we only dream about in real life.  Whatever the olds say about games causing us to do illegal things in real life is totally wrong because the only thing youíll want to do after playing this is playing more of the same genre.  What Grand theft Auto did to your peaking meter it will be done all over in Speed Kings.  Sure there is no where near the variety of things to do and this game is nothing in the same league in terms of dexterity, but this game has been honed for the adrenaline of illegal bike racing.  Cars whiz by at blinding speeds and the more devilish the player, the more reward.  Dinging cars, going over jumps, and the things already mentioned are some of the massive things that can be done.  Much like a good fighting game there is many different manoeuvres to be pulled off to your amusement, god I love this job!   

There is the opportunity to unlock new bikes and tracks, of course, after attaining a drivers license.  The newer bikes are faster and more streamlined so unlocking these beasts is just one of the rewards in the game.  The controls can be all done with the two analogue sticks and other buttons such as the triangle will make the player skid along the ground under trucks, cranes and what have you.  There is the ability to apply weight on the back to do wheelies and forwards to do endos, which is when the bike stands on the front wheel.  Also the player can use a speed boost both at the start of a race and also during when dings are performed.  The nitro boost is done very well as the screen blurs but the sense of control is still reasonable. 

Another title that this game is likened to is Midnight Club 2 but this game unfortunately is much harder and esoteric.  The handling is great with going around corners is exciting as the player does not know what is behind the next turn. 

From riding a motorbike and having been done wheelies on it, the feel is similar.  The way that the player must balance the bike on the back wheel is similar.  The way it is done in real life is by pulling up the front and balancing while in the vertical position, using the engine.  The perfect balance is achieved when the bike is travelling in a straight line and the front is pulled up directly upwards.  While the GameCube controller is totally different to an actual motorbike these two methods share the same similarities as the leaning back and forwards on the controller.

As amazing as all this sounds and I must admit writing this has been fun, I do have some thoughts Mr Acclaim.  Whilst the collision detection is very tight like a tiger, the crashes did not need to be so dramatic.  In road rash there was the method of running back to the bike once fallen off and the chance of being hit in the process.  This could have been done the same way although there is a fair bit of enjoyment in your bike slamming into a speeding semi going the opposite direction when you are travelling at 300 miles per hour.  Getting back on the bike may be a fairly painful process if this was the case.  Simply hopping back on a new bike after one of these collisions could have been a bit pointless in regards to the bike being in a thousand pieces. 

Overall this game was a good one. With many things to be done in the whole game that the GameCube can handle quite well, including great draw distance and heaps of traffic, trucks to slide under.  The part where this happens is a lot of fun similar to discovering moves in fighting games that are a spectacle.  There need to be more of everything though to score the elusive Impulsegamer perfect figure.  No that accolade is only reserved for the elite revolutionary few.   

This title, with a lot going for it would only achieve what you see down below because the variety of things to be done is not enough to score a high score. Also the difficulty is hard folks donít think you can cruise through this puppy in a hurry.  The sense of progression is slow and to those who are great at games this is highly recommended.  Also there are also licenses to be attained by doing things such as the huge range of tricks eg, power down.  Slide etc.  Tricks can only be performed if there is extensive knowledge of how the game is played so read up on the instruction manual, folks.

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