Street Racing Syndicate PS2 Review

Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines for Namco’s answer to the ever popular Need For Speed Underground. Does it take first place or trail back in dead last?

Well to be honest, neither, it has it’s moments but falls short of the mark here and there. For starters, the game feels slow. Even at its fastest, when you’re tearing through the streets at 200+ mph, SRS fails to conjure the sense of speed required in a street-racing title. While the game feels quite speedy during the first few races, the effect can only be put down to the players lack of experience negotiating slick roads and sharp turns. Once you’re used to it, driving through bends and narrow streets just doesn’t feel fun anymore. Driving 150mph feels like driving 80mph. It may be more realistic, but when you’re sacrificing time with less-realistic titles like Burnout 3 you’ll swear realism sucks. Also the cars can feel rather stiff it times, cutting down on the fun even more. Of course the game does provide the option of purchasing new cars and modifying them. I found this to help soothe the problem. It’s a tight situation penalizing a game for being realistic, but the likes of Mario Kart: Double Dash and Burnout 3 have proven that realism is not always a necessity.

On the plus side, Namco’s emphasis on realism has reflected very well on aspects such as cars, parts and visual customizations straight from real-world manufacturers. SRS offers around 50 authentically modelled, officially licensed cars from manufacturers such as Nissan, Mitsubishi and Mazda. Each car looks and handles just as it should, making the acquisition of hot rides imperative if you want to survive on the streets. Provided you have the funds, you’ll be ripping through traffic in the Mazda RX-7 and RX-8; the Toyota Supra MR2 Spyder, Celica, Corolla (AE86); the Subaru WRX, WRX STi; the Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34), 350Z; the Lexus IS 300 and the Mitsubishi Evo VIII. Purchasing a car is simple, you just drive right down to the showroom find the car you like and buy it. You can even pop the hood of each car to inspect an authentically modelled engine.

SRS opens the game with a choice of three different game modes: Street Mode (the story mode), Arcade Mode and Multiplayer. Most of the basic modes make an appearance. You can race in the basic Quick Race with a random opponent or race in a co-op mode called Team Position Race. You can also race in Collection Races where the first driver to collect tokens around the city wins. And then there’s Street Mode. After selecting a car, you’ll need to trick it out at the garage in preparation for dozens of career-making races across three cities. The garage is where SRS owns the competition in terms of authenticity, customization and attention to detail.

Namco has included tonnes of real life parts to boot. The garage splits between four main options: Performance upgrades, cosmetic upgrades, Dyno, and Repair. Parts come from big name manufacturers such as Venom, HKS, Yokohama, Holley and Brembo. Likewise, you’ll find vinyl, stickers and paint options under cosmetic upgrades. It’s easy to lose yourself for hours in the garage just swapping around parts at your hearts content and then putting your ride through the Dyno test to see how each upgrade affected your ride. Each individual part, whether it is a turbo or set of tires, can make the difference between victory and defeat.

Unlike the aforementioned Need for Speed Underground, SRS boasts an open-ended city full of eager racers to test your metal. Opening the map of the city presents eight different categories of “events” you can try. It’s possible to drive to these events, but your also presented with the option of “jumping” at the touch of a button. The categories include: Crew Meets, Respect Challenges, Street Challenges, City Locations and Cruise Zones.

Each event offers different rewards; some will earn you respect points (good for unlocking extras) while some offer cash for buying new cars and parts. Cruise Zones let you watch you’re sexed up car riding around the city through a replay camera. Another cool feature is the ability to challenge random drivers to races. Not entirely random–they have floating signs above their cars that read “race me!” But it’s a nice inclusion. Unfortunately, they all boil down to the same thing in terms of actual gameplay. None of the races feature any major differences in track design. SRS divides 72 races between LA, Philadelphia and Miami, with day and night tracks to add a bit of variety. While driving around the cities, you’ll need to watch out for the police, as speeding around the city will land you a chunky fine if you can’t outrun them.

Oh and there’s also a load of scantily clad ladies cavorting around in there panties.

Continuing with the uber-realism, SRS gives you the chance to win the hearts of attractive human females as prizes. Here’s how it works: once you’ve collected enough “status” as a street racer, a girl will offer herself to the player if he/she wins a race under her stipulations. Usually, this means you’ll need to speed along a city block through a series of checkpoints. If you win, she’s yours to do with as you please (well maybe not as you please, it’s not that realistic).

Put simply, racing is difficult, not to mention expensive if you lose. So it makes perfect sense for the player to have hordes of shallow women at their bidding to cushion the blow if they lose. You can “collect” 18 different ladies, all of which feature a set of sexy videos. Each comes with only one video to start with, but you can unlock 52 all in all. Are the videos worth it? Well, that largely depends on if you enjoy excessive use of make-up and silicone. If you do, you’ll be busting your hubcaps trying to unlock all of them. And they’re not just any girls either; Namco (still sticking with the realism) has made sure to use real models from the important racing scene.

Overall

SRS is only for die hard street racers (most of which are probably male anyway). It’s evident from your first session in the garage, if you don’t know what these parts do from the get go then it’s going to take a lot of effort to learn, and the game really doesn’t reward you for that effort, Namco seems to think that by throwing half naked women are way we will feel rewarded for our efforts but it simply doesn’t work that way. Graphically the game is impressive and the real life cars and parts really do help immerse to you but the fact is it’s a little too realistic for my tastes and will probably be left out in the cold while Burnout 3 consumes my life.

7.8 out of 10

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