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Rumble Racing
Platform:  Playstation 2
# of Players:  1-2
Publisher:  Electronic Arts
Features:  Rumble (of course)
Ratings:  Everyone
Memory Req.:  281k
I don't know if any of you know this but this game is actually a sequel to a little gem called Nascar Rumble that hardly anyone played. Those who did were wowed by its easy to play arcade style of racing through many different kinds of environments. The only strange thing about it was the Nascar license. Now I know Nascar is huge and everything, but aside from some recognizable faces and cars, Nascar had nothing to do with it. So in the latest installment the Nascar hullaballoo has been dropped and many options have opened up.

The most obvious thing about the drop of the Nascar license is that there are all types of cars that can be chosen, from little European compacts to big American boats. Plus there are some familiar looking sports cars and a couple of trucks. Hell, you can even drive a pink mini-van. With all of the car choices you are surely going to find one you like. The only question is will you be able to drive it as well as the ugly boring one you hate. See, all of the cars handle much differently so you may have to sacrifice aesthetics to win the race.

When I first caught a glimpse of this game from various screenshots I was less than impressed. The tracks looked flat, the cars had no personality, and don't get me started on the jagged edges. After playing for a while, however, I realized why the graphics look the way they do. The game is freakin fast. Speed! Speed! Speed! That is what it is all about. At 60 FPS you don't even notice the edges of the cars or the surroundings since you are barreling right through them. After plugging trough a few courses I was definitely ready to forgive the graphical problems in leu of the amazing pace that I was racing. Now if there was a way to have both…

Speed is not the only aspect that makes this game fun and exciting. There is mad air in it as well. Big speed + Big jumps = Big Air. Though you can get air at certain parts on every level there are a few levels that are devoted to just jumping. Once in the air you can do tricks. "Tricks in a car?" you ask. "What can a car do besides flip?" Well, not much. But you can do whole gymnastic routine in the air, complete with all kinds flips and turns. Then, if you land it correctly, you will be rewarded with a turbo boost based on the complexity of the trick. This makes doing tricks a strategic point in the game, as well as just being cool. Doing the tricks is really the best part since the levels are designed with multiple jumps and trick opportunities especially if you hit a shortcut.

But wait there's more. There are also weapons for taking out the bad guys. If you are groaning at the thought of cart-racing-style weapons system don’t fret–you can turn them off. But if you love to blow cars up, skid them off the road, or pelt them with rocks, then you are in luck. There is even a tornado that clears the road ahead of you from all of those pesky motorists. The weapons system is a bit bizarre since four weapons can be handled at once, but only two can be activated, and they can either be launched or dropped, but you'll get the hang of it (RTFM People).

The main purpose of the game is fun, not cut throat competition in a realistic environment. Since this is the case, you are never really out of the race completely. The pack will wait up if you get too far behind and the cars stay pretty close together at all times. This makes the race exciting from beginning to end. There are plenty of shortcuts through each track and a counter that tells you how many of them you found after the race is over. One aspect of the game that is not fun however is the announcer. I don't really know what his purpose is. He doesn't narrate the race, and he doesn't help you out in any way. He just makes bullshit comments every five seconds. Ugh, turn him off.

All of these options and features of the game give it a really high rating in the fun department. So what if the cars aren't licensed or realistic. In Rumble Racing all that is important is the pulse of your heart after a race. If it is pumping (like it was for me after many intense sessions) then the games has done its job.

Chris Shade

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