You'd think that the game creating geniuses at Squaresoft combined with the power of Sony's shiny new PS2 would come up with something really special for their first effort. Well.... not quite. Ladies and Gentlemen, Driving Emotion Type-S is something special alright, but not the sort of special that you'd want to sample for a very long period of time. For a first generation game, it does a lot of things right, then destroys it all with regards to the most important feature- the gameplay. Type-S simply blows a gasket right at the starting line, and only the most patient and dedicated gamers will be able to salvage some sort of playable experience from this one. Gran Turismo has raised the bar for realistic racing simulations, and it seems as if everyone who attempts to copy it trips, and lands flat on their faces.
The game starts off quite splendidly with a great intro using the fantastic in-game engine- there are a few stuttery frames here and there, but overall, the quality of the replays is as good as or better than the intros to the Gran Turismo games. The 30 plus cars are amazingly detailed, down to the working dashboard lights and dials. And the environments are definitely the best seen in a racing game, especially the nightime courses with their flashing lights, fireworks displays, and super detailed backgrounds. Adding to the realism is the TV-style presentation of the replays, along with the videotaped look of the whole game. So far so good- that is, until you pick up a controller and try to play the game.
The default steering is so bad that it's impossible to make the first turn in any race without bouncing off the walls like a two ton pinball. It takes a whole lot of fiddling with the settings to get comfortable with driving any of the cars here, and even then, you never feel as if you have total control. On one hand, this is how it should be, if you've never driven a car before, but this extreme realism will turn off just about anyone who's ever plunked a quarter in an arcade racer. Even with my Ultra Racer controller (the game recognized it as a steering wheel, so I guess that's a good sign), I was all over the road, which made for some really amusing replays. When you get tired of constantly finishing last and playing tag with the retaining walls, hit the driving school, it actually helps a great deal. Still, you'll find yourself behing the wheel of an ugly Corolla Levin for a while until you can master some of the speedier cars in the game. Getting to the cars in question will take some work, as you have to beat the arcade mode to open up more vehicles. One friendly piece of advice: Stock up on Dual Shock 2's while you can, if you're into throwing expensive controllers
around when you get frustrated.
There are some minor graphics issues going on as well- since Sony seems to be completely against anti-aliasing, the game is loaded with jagged edges, which hurts the sense of realism somewhat. I know that most N64 games look too smooth and blurred out, but there has to be some sort of "just right" middleground reached with these next generation systems. At least Sega is on the right track, it seems. Also, what's with the two hands stuck to the steering wheel in the inside view? Not once do you see your driver shift into or out of gears, use the handbrake, or even grab change for the toll booth (just kidding about that last one.)- that's a big no-no, and something that stands out as weird, since just about every other detail was covered.
The two player mode is quite well done, except for the fact that both players will be annoyed as they bumper car their way around the tracks, seeing who's going to finish last. At least the music is decent- Definitely Gran Turismo inspired (well, the import version), light jazzy, and harmless pop-rock stuff, perfect for driving. If this one ever comes out here, expect some really annoying alterna-techno rock pap to go along with the hopefully fixed controls. As it stands, Driving Emotion Type-S is a real disappointment, even more so coming from Squaresoft. It's not their first racing game (Racing Lagoon, and Chocobo Racing were the first two), and even if it were, there's no excuse for this lack of effort (in terms of the control) on a brand new system. Worth a purchase if you're one of those people who's easily impressed, and supremely talented behind the wheel.
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