Review By: Jared
thing about Gran Turismo 3's success is this: we haven't really
seen any clones of it pop up after its release. Almost anytime a
game meets with the kind of success GT3 has, there'll follow a
slew of "me-too" titles looking to cash in. Well now
we've finally got our clone in Riding Spirits, a game
that basically takes the GT3 formula and places it in the world
of motorcycle racing.
played GT3 you know the formula here. Start out with a horribly
under-powered bike, race a few races to build up a good
stockpile of cash, then upgrade your bike so you can actually
compete. Eventually dominate the lowest class, then move up and
repeat the process all over again. It's a formula that's been
tested and works, and serves a sufficient motivation to keep the
player playing. Also like GT3, there is a slew of different real
bikes to choose from - over 200 in fact. Basically every major
manufacturer is included, such as the likes of Honda, Yamaha,
Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Every bike can be upgraded with a wide
array of different parts to improve performance.
gameplay is where the game starts to falter a bit, but not too
much. Regardless of what bike is used, at first the racing will
feel very sluggish and slow. Once the player starts purchasing
upgrades though, the action gets faster and bikes become more
responsive. So the controls aren't quite up to GT3's standard,
but they're pretty close. The A.I. is almost exactly the same as
GT3's, in that the racers have a pre-determined path and speed
and they stick to it regardless of what's happening in the race.
Stock A.I. has always been GT's main problem, and it's a big
issue here as well. A total of 14 different courses are
available to race on, and they range from pure oval tracks to
winding street courses.
When I first
started playing Riding Spirits, I was in awe of how crisp
and detailed each track looked. Even at high speeds, the texture
work is very nice and at times rivals that found in your average
Xbox racer. Then I realized that the reason for this is the
surrounding track view is extremely limited. Every track is in
some way either walled off, or has close objects blocking the
view distance around every turn. It's an easy trick to spot for
anyone who's followed the industry for any length of time, but
to the average gamer it won't matter a bit (other than perhaps
the somewhat narrow course designs that result). Regardless,
cheap trick or not the result is some nice looking tracks, with
the only real blemish being some HEAVY aliasing in a few
courses. I'm talking first-generation bleeding-eyes aliasing
A more minor
complaint is that, in this day and age, activity around the
tracks is dead. No people moving about, any background objects
swaying/moving/etc., no anything. It creates a really sterile
racing environment that feels somewhat weird. Additionally,
crash animation is very basic, and the player quickly grows
tired of seeing the same animation over and over again for very
soundtrack is excellent, with a number of tunes that have a
heavy jazz/European feel to them. If you've ever played any
non-NASCAR racing game, you know exactly what to expect here.
The sound effects are decent, but extremely limited, as there's
virtually no ambient sound to go along with the bikes. And like
all motorcycle games the whine of the bike becomes annoying
after a while.
the GT3 formula to bike upgrading, resulting in a deeper
experience than most other racing games.
- Over 200
real bikes should appease even hardcore fans.
soundtrack is excellent, and the front-end menus are simple
and intuitive. Whoever designed the menu system deserves a
- A sterile
racing experience. The A.I. is obviously pre-programmed to
follow a certain path, ambient sounds are almost non-existent,
and track activity is kept to a bare minimum. It's like racing
in a painting.
For GT3 fans
looking for their next fix, Riding Spirits is an acceptable
substitute that follows the formula well. Just be warned that
there is almost no innovation here, and the racing experience is a
somewhat empty one.