Speed Racer the Videogame PS2 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 7.8
Graphics 7.9
Sound 8.0
Value 7.8
Distributor: Warner Bros
Review Date:
October 2008


Speed Racer the Videogame

Speed Racer is based on the 2008 movie by the Wachowski Bros, Speed Racer. It is set in a fantasy world where car culture is the culture. The player takes part in the World Racing League (WRL), competing against nineteen other racers across impossible tracks, delivering a racing experience that has never been seen before.

 The player drives a T180, a racecar that can achieve amazing speeds, with four independently turning wheels and "jump jacks" that allow it to jump, flip, and perform incredible car-fu maneuvers to eliminate other drivers from the competition.

After uncovering the corrupt influence of Royalton Industries and smashing all his opponents in The Crucible, Speed Racer returns for his second year on the racing registry. However, this time, the illustrious World Racing League Cup is up for grabs.

Although the game has been available for the Wii for quite some time, it's now turn for PlayStation 2 owners to experience the adrenaline pumping experience of this super fast racing game. With some of the actors from the movie lending their voices to the game, this is a true homage to the movie and is quite a fun game on the PS2 and even better is the price. 

In its essence, Speed Racer is reminiscent of games such as Wipeout with elements of F-Zero GX and Burnout which puts the gamer in control of these high powered futuristic cars that race at insanely ridiculous speeds. Where the game does come into its own is through the introduction of "Car-Fu", think of Kung-Fu for cars where the player can perform a variety of different maneuvers such as shunts, flips, torpedoes and smack downs which all assist in you winning the race.

There is a catch of course that other players in the title can also use this functionality to hamper your racing style. With a variety of powerups littered throughout the roller coaster inspired tracks that allow you to race past other players, our initial thoughts of the game was that it was quite entertaining.

As you engage in the Championship mode of Speed Racer, you are initially racing it out against 12 different racers, however as you progress, the ante is upped to a maximum of 20 racers per race which makes some riveting and sometimes frustrating gameplay. The title also contains a time attack and an entertaining split-screen multiplayer mode, however there is no online play which is unfortunate as it would have been one thrilling online experience.

The developers have created a rather sturdy Ally/Rival system that allows you to make some alliances before the race in order to assist or hamper other racers, however the more alliances you have, the more limiting your Car-Fu powers become. To compound the situation, the more rivals you have, the more Car-Fu attacks your character will be subjected to so it's a careful balance between rivals and allies in order to truly master the race. 

Apart from Car-Fu, the gamer must also drafting or slipstreaming as it is known in Speed Racer which allows you to increase your speeds, however it infuriates the characters that you perform this maneuver on. The game also has "boost" available to his car and through smooth driving and using Car-Fu, this increases your boost meter and puts you in the Zone that makes you immune to Car-Fu attacks. Your car has a health meter and when players use Car-Fu on you, this decreases your health until you eventually explode, so fortunately you can use your boosts as health to replenish your health.

The control system of Speed Racer uses Sony's DualShock controller quite well and best of all is the force feedback system which allows you to experience all the bumps and crashes. With a well mapped control system, gamers should have no problem in picking up the title and playing straight away. The Car-Fu powers does take some time getting use to but it sure beats those boring old racing games.

Graphically, the game is visually impressive on the PlayStation 2 (almost like the Wii version, although a little more subdued) with a psychedelic roller coaster atmosphere that assists with the sense of speed and distance as you race at insane speeds. The cars are quite well detailed and almost have that Saturday morning cartoon aspect to them that when matches with a variety of special effects, pays true homage to the upcoming movie.

The characters almost look like their real-world counterparts and at the end of the day, the game is very Nintendo Wii looking not that there is anything wrong with that. The musical score of the game has been taken from the movie with the actors lending their voices to the game which goes hand-in-hand with the gameplay and graphics.

At the end of the day, Speed Racer is an entertaining racing game with good gameplay and good graphics. The title does become a little repetitive, however for the price, there is little to complain about and it's good to see developers supporting the PlayStation 2 still.


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