Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: January 26, 2001
It’s 4 a.m. Do you know where your kids are? Well, if they participate in a particular sport that has inspired numerous films and games, chances are they’re racing neck and neck through the main roads of your city. Street racing is unlike any formalized circuit: the cars are all heavily modified “regular” vehicles and the racetracks are informal stretches of highway made hazardous by the presence of other drivers. There’s anecdotal evidence suggesting that this form of competition exists in one form or another just about everywhere that the highways can support it. It’s risky, dangerous and in direct conflict with just about every motor vehicle regulation known to man, but it’s also an adrenaline high and a chance to show off your driving and mechanical prowess. Fortunately for those who are intrigued by the mystique of these midnight races but reluctant to risk their lives and licenses on such activities, Crave Entertainment has laid open the highways of Tokyo in Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2.
There are four modes available in Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2, including Free Ride, Time Attack, Quick Race and Quest. Free Ride is just that–an unimpeded cruise through the highways. Time Attack pits the player against the clock as he tries to run the course in the shortest possible time. Quick race introduces some opposition, and new competitors appear in a constant stream until their steadily climbing skills defeat the player. Quest, however, is the fluid in this racer’s transmission: starting with 15,000 credits and a lot of moxy, a newcomer to the scene must accelerate, shift and power slide their way to universal acclaim as Emperor of the Highway.
With no starting line or checkered flag, one would expect some difficulty in fairly determining a clear winner in these informal races. In order to maintain order, a simple mechanic known as “The Challenge” is introduced. In order to throw down the proverbial gauntlet, a car approaches a rival on the open road and blinks its high beams. Lighting up the brakes declines a challenge; otherwise, the cars hold a steady position for a countdown and then thousands of pounds of vehicular fury are unleashed on an unsuspecting stretch of highway. For the duration of the race, the two motorists must jockey for position whilst avoiding traffic and keeping a tight reign through the corners. At the top of the display are two bars — similar to the health bars in a fighting title — that ultimately determine the victor. The rear car loses this health, or Speed Points, at a rate proportional to their trailing distance. Thus, someone who’s tight on his opponent’s rear will loose SP very slowly, while one who’s lost sight of his opponent will quickly find themselves out of the race. In addition to this gradual loss, rubbing another car or the side of the highway will cost additional SP beyond the speed reduction that results from physical contact with another object. As might be expected, once the bar has disappeared, it has lost the race.
The leading car lays out the route of each race as it chooses between the various ramps that connect the highways, and failing to follow the leader results in a draw. Surprisingly, a draw is the least desirable result due to the game’s reward system. CPs, or credits, are the only currency in the scene, and racing is the only way to earn them. Each rival is assigned a value based on his skill, and other factors such as the race’s distance and remaining SP factor into the victor’s eventual reward. A win results in full rewards, a loss gives you only the credits earned for distance raced, but a draw gives you even less credits because the race distance is shorter, meaning it’s always preferable to finish what you start.