Street Racing Syndicate ReviewCain Dornan
Unlike EA Games Need For Speed: Underground, Namcos entry into the rather recent street racing phenomenon, Street Racing Syndicate, is aimed at the more realistic truth behind street racing. The free roam city allows you to cruise around in your tricked-out ride just as you would in real life, complete with cops who are willing to end your fun with a hefty fine. Street Racing Syndicate introduces new modes and more which previous racers havent included, however, it also contains numerous problems that hamper the experience an experience that could have been highly enjoyable.
Street Racing Syndicate is based around the import tuning and racing scene. Making cars go faster than what the manufacturer intended using aftermarket parts is what its all about. There are over 40 cars available to collect from companies such as Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Mazda and Subaru. From these car makers, a selection of quality vehicles are available for you to trick-out, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, Nissan Skyline GT-R R34, Toyota Supra and the Subaru WRX STi. Great care has been taken into ensuring each car look, control and sound exactly as it would in real life.
Street Racing Syndicate is more than just a basic arcade racer. Vehicles will react rather poorly when first purchased. Thus, you are required to modify your vehicle not only to get more power and speed, but to also improve the handling. This very reason makes Street Racing Syndicate feel sloppy when first played, but after a short amount of time spent modifying your vehicle, you will come to appreciate and enjoy this feature.
The story mode in SRS is created around a free-roam map of Los Angeles. On these streets you will have access to girls, garages, roll-up races and more. Police are regularly patrolling the roads, therefore breaking road rules, such as speeding, crashing into other cars or simply driving dangerously, will result in a police chase. The police will call for backup if you run, and will also organise roadblocks. A meter bar is shown informing you wether you are close to being caught or wether you are escaping. If you are caught, you will be forced to pay a penalty, which ranges depending on the offence you committed.
First off, you will need to modify your vehicle, which is done in your garage. Here, you are able to select from a range of aftermarket parts that you have unlocked. Street Racing Syndicate boasts a large range of aftermarket parts for you to use. The price varies depending upon the quality of the product, therefore, you will need to watch your money, and only purchase specific parts at the right time.
There is also a Dyno mode available so you can check how each part affects your ride. A lengthy loading time for each part makes modifying your vehicle a chore.
Once you have modified your ride to your needs, you are ready to hit the streets.
There are several different types of racing events to participate in. These include roll up races, street challenges and crew meets. To participate in roll up races, simply find a fellow street racer driving around the city, with a large Race Me! flag above them. Flashing your cars lights will grab his attention, and challenge you to a race. Finding a racer parked somewhere will allow you to race him, known as a street challenge. The crew meets is where most of your racing will be spent. There are two different types of events available, the basic event that requires an ante to enter, and a sanctioned event, which is free to enter. Before each race, you have the option of placing a side bet with one of the other racers.
One problem with the racing, however, is that the game simply feels too slow. This is a street racing game, which requires speed. You dont want to feel like you are driving your grandmothers car. It may be more realistic than other popular arcade racers on the market, but by doing this it greatly destroys the enjoyment that is gained from these types of games.
Other than modifying your ride and racing it, you are able to collect girlfriends by completing tasks to impress them. These tasks range from going through checkpoints in a set amount of time, or by pulling off style moves, such as power overs or getting air. Once you have collected a girlfriend, you are able to watch a video or two of them dancing. Nothing amazing, but it is a unique little addition to Street Racing Syndicate nonetheless.
Another unique feature in SRS is the Cruise Zone. This allows the computer to drive the car automatically around the city as you watch on. You have the ability to move the camera around the car, making it a nice little feature to show off your ride.
The track designs in SRS are built around the streets in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Miami. This has resulted in many races simply being a variation of another, making the racing rather bland quickly. It is rather creative though; as yet again, it is keeping the whole game real to street racing. The cost of doing this, however, is too high.
The Arcade Mode features several different modes. Quick race allows you to simply select a race and compete against three other racers. Checkpoint is a time-based race, which requires players to reach checkpoints within an allocated time. Iron man is a series of races, similar to a championship. Finally, speed trial is simply a time trial, to see how fast you can finish a race in. Although most of your time will be spent in the Street Mode, the arcade mode will grab your interest as it allows you to unlock new vehicles or parts in the Street Mode.
SRS features enough races, challenges and arcade modes to keep you playing for some time. There is also a basic split-screen multi-player mode, however it isnt quite as polished as the street or arcade modes.
The graphics in Street Racing Syndicate, although not amazing, are detailed and realistic enough to work well. Attention to detail for every car is great, and generally the tracks that you race in have well-detailed surroundings. The lighting, although there has been better, looks great and works well. The cars fitting in with the tracks, however, is another story. The cars often look as if they have been copied and pasted onto the roads surroundings rarely reflect on the car, and wheels look as if they arent spinning quite right.
The damage to cars, although not exactly realistic, works well. Scrapes will appear along the side of the car if you decide to run along the wall of a track, lights and windscreens will become covered with cracks and dints will appear in the bodywork if you hit another car or wall hard.
Namco has included a decent number of songs in Street Racing Syndicate. Songs are heard at random whilst racing, which ranges from rock to rap. Although nothing spectacular, the music works well with the game and generally fits the scene of street racing.
The sound effects in Street Racing Syndicate sound great. Crashes sound exactly as you would expect them to metal and glass smashing. Each car varies and sounds just as youd expect them to. Modifying the car, such as adding a larger muffler or turbo the engine will result in the car sounding louder, and of course, better.
The controls in Street Racing Syndicate arent quite as polished as other racers. The controls at times feel unresponsive and sloppy, resulting in your car receiving damage and losing a position or two. In general though, the controls are more simulated than other street racing titles available. This can be a good thing at times, but often a bad thing.
Although Street Racing Syndicate isnt as polished as Need For Speed: Underground, SRS offers a great Street Mode and a decent Arcade mode. There are plenty of things that SRS could better, such as the overall slowness of the game, some minor graphic problems and sloppy controls. Overall, however, Street Racing Syndicate is an enjoyable racer that I recommend to anyone looking for a decent car-modifying racer.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.