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RC Revenge Pro
Review By: Jared Black
Developer:   Acclaim
Publisher:   Acclaim
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Racing
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   3-1-01

One of my favorite games as a child was definitely the NES classic RC Pro-Am. Not only did it feature some excellent racing action, but it also featured the one toy that kids almost universally love: radio-controlled cars. Thus, it was with anticipation that I dug into Acclaimís latest racer, as I have yet to find a RC game that recaptures the magic found in Rareís NES title. Is my search over? Unfortunately, no.

It really is unfortunate that this game ultimately flops, because there are flashes of brilliance found throughout the game. It features a nice selection of cars and tracks to choose from, with a total of 19 cars and 6 worlds (each broken into four different tracks). Like most racing games these days, mirrored and reversed versions of the tracks as well as additional cars can also be unlocked. Each of the different worlds you race in (Horror, Jungle, Pirate, etc.) are all nicely themed, with track names spoofing popular movies featuring that type of setting. In addition to the standard racing modes (Time Trial, Championship, Single Race, Multiplayer), Acclaim also threw in a simple track editor. While this is fun to play around with for a while, its ultimate usefulness is limited. Since thereís no hard drive to save your created tracks to, saved tracks have to be rather small in file size. As a result the choice of track pieces is very limited and you canít apply custom textures to the pieces, so created tracks end up being very dull.

When you get to the actual gameplay though, thatís when things really start to fall apart. Borrowing a lot of elements from Mario Kart (such as either 1 or 3 missiles, "?" blocks containing power-ups, ending with podium and fireworks, etc.), RC Pro Revenge still manages to deliver a unique experience due to some excellent racing environments and the slightly different feel of RC cars. While each level is generally well designed, a lot of the twists and turns are often unmarked or hidden from view into the last second. As a result youíll often find yourself in first place, and then suddenly you fall to last place because you missed a turn and slammed into a wall. Some courses are worse at this than others (the courses through the haunted house stand out as big offenders in this area), but it happens often enough that it bears mentioning.

The controls themselves are done well enough, with the almost-default racing configuration ("X" for gas and such) found in most PSone and PS2 racing titles. In fact, theyíre pretty tight and responsiveÖwhen you can actually control your vehicle. See, the problem lies not in the controls themselves, but in the stuttering framerate thatís found in every track in the game. Moments of smoothness alternate between moments of immense slowdown, which usually results in overcompensation as you struggle to get your car to go the way you want it too. As a result, youíll often find yourself hitting walls or going off of cliffs when you should not have. This is very frustrating to say the least. Even when the game does run smoothly, which is rare, the framerate never seems to get above 24 or 25 frames per second. The result is a racing game that never really delivers a sense of speed, so even when the game runs smoothly itís never really thrilling.  This problem is made even worse since about the only time the framerate will run smoothly is when you're in the lead.  Since the AI is so horrible, it's very easy to pull away from the pack.  What results is 2+ laps of riding all by yourself, while the game chugs along slowly at 20 or so frames per second.  Ugh.

The graphics themselves are stunning. Each environment (as you can see from the screenshots) is nicely detailed, with lots of background objects and impressive textures. Acclaim was going for a "cartoonish" feel in the game, and they definitely accomplished that. While they really arenít better quality-wise than anything found on the Dreamcast, the bright color palette and inventive background objects found in each level (such as huge monsters, sunken ships, sharks, etc.) give the game a lot of personality. Unfortunately, most of the time they tried to cram too many things into each level, which resulted in massive slowdown. Not only that, but thereís also some INCREDIBLY horrible aliasing going on here. Itís advised that you close your eyes any time you drive over a bridge or some sand, because otherwise your eyes will hurt. Bad. In fact, Iíve included a movie below that will give you an idea of what Iím talking aboutÖjust be glad I didnít take it at full-screen resolution. With some anti-aliasing, tweaked code and a few less dancing trees, RC Revenge Pro would have still looked excellent and ran with a solid framerate. Itís a shame that this didnít happen.

Click here to make your eyes bleed (1.16 MB - .mpg)

The sound is really nothing special. The music on each level is just there; not really annoying, but it doesnít really serve to get you excited about racing. While the sound effects are all excellent in quality, some of them really sound out of place. The cars themselves donít really sound like RC cars, and often the weapons will give a plink or plonk that doesnít match up with how itís represented graphic-wise. I know they were coming up with "wacky" sound effects to fit the overall theme of the game, but some of them donít come across as such.

Itís really sad to see a game end up like this. There are a lot of areas where you can see excellence just waiting to burst, but it just doesnít happen. The framerate and level design problems are just too much to overcome, and as a result RC Revenge Pro is at best a bargain-bin buy. Still, I do look forward to a sequel, because RC Revenge Pro is just a few small fixes away from greatness.

HIGHS:

-Immersive and inventive environments
-Tight controls when the framerate is consistent.

LOWS:

-Massive amounts of slowdown. This game drops more frames than a drunk photographer.
-"Smooth" here equals "slow" in most other racing games.
-Often confusing level design.

FINAL VERDICT:

The phrase "so close, and yet so far" has never been more appropriate. With a few framerate and design fixes this could have been an excellent racing game. As it stands though, itís bargain bin material.

Overall Score: 3.6

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