With the site being overhauled and a new version only weeks away it seems game time has slowed down. Sure we are all getting our fair share of Zelda in but what about the other games floating around the world that most people have yet to even play. In the realm of racing games you have many wannabes and copycats that attempt to overthrow what successful series such as Gran Turismo and Ridge Racer have dominated since the mid 90’s. Most of them fail miserably and continue to pile up in the clearance bin at your local game shop. Then comes a game from out of nowhere that completely floors everyone who is lucky enough to play it, that game is Mercedes Benz World Racing. I laughed when my copy was flung across the desk, I said “A racing game from TDK??!?”. Much to my pleasant surprise wrapped in the cellophane packaging was a gem that otherwise I would have passed off as a simple license failure. Let me explain why this game is possibly the best racing game on XBox.
Rollin’ In My Benz!
The premises simple, you are plopped down into a championship mode that tests your driving skills inside one of Mercedes’ pristine vehicles. Actually to be exact the game contains over 100 cars for the taking including such famous roadsters as the 300SL series to a nice selection of concept cars just begging for a test drive. The tracks are also something to mention, well honestly I want to completely boast just how fucking huge they are. Taking a free ride will allow you to explore the entire track and I have to confess I got lost many times. For instance the Nevada stage has several bridges leading to other sides of the track as well as a giant dam that as far as I can tell is just a landmark. UFO’s picking up cattle along the roadside and Stealth Bombers fill the sky, the overall amount of detail is amazing. Sure most of the attractions are completely cardboard. Meaning that you can drive right through them, it’s just the level of detail and amount going on in the tracks that truly impresses me.
So there is a ton of shit going on, but how does it look? Well my gamers this game is purty. I just don’t mean XBox purty either. Of course real-time reflections, great texturing, and bump mapping are present but the way the designers modeled everything is just eye opening. The damage models are flawless and the frame rate only stutters from time to time. Being a nitpick most people are they will gripe about the frame droppage but honestly can you really bitch about dropping from 60 to 45? I mean it still moves so fluidly you will rarely even notice it. To put it simply this game is the most visually gratifying racer I have seen on XBox, even outshining Apex but not by much.
Pump Up The Volume..
What is the best thing about racing games on the XBox? Two words baby, custom soundtracks. Being able to import your own driving music is what makes this genre even more popular on the box than any other system and Mercedes is no exception. Not only does it allow but it has one of the best implementations of this feature I have seen yet. I was able to drag all 147 of my tracks in with no problems and the game randomizes automatically and I have yet to hear a repeat. The in-game music will suffice for those that do not copy music to their XBox (BTW shame on you!) it isn’t grand nor awful just fitting. The sound effects can also leave something to be desired, sure they are your typical racing game flare but I am ready for a drastic change. Can’t knock ’em but I sure wish they would come up with some new tactic in producing earfuls of great sound effects.
Being a racing game it has to walk that fine line of arcade style versus simulation and thankfully Mercedes has so many options and tweaks any racing buff can enjoy the ride. MBWR has an AI slider, so if the comp is kicking your ass and you need a leg up slide it down a notch. The first thing I would do if I was you is turn off the assisted braking. This can slow you down just enough to make playing catch up a bitch. No this game does not allow you to wreck dangerously and still be able to catch up. The AI although seems to follow the dreaded racing game “follow the leader” style. The cars rarely, if ever, change position and stay in a pretty set pattern. This was evident in the first Gran Turismo and has been a plague ever since. When will we get superior AI that drives like we do? Well that could be good and bad heh. MBWR also offers an abundance of multi-player options for when friends drop over!
C U At The Finish Line!
What this all boils down to is that MBWR is a game that 99% of the world will pass off as a cheap license game. Synetic has done an amazing job of capturing what makes racing games fun in the first place and implemented it all without a hitch. If you are a fan of driving games this is your heaven, if not then don’t bother. A sure fire hit given anyone actually buys the damn thing, hey TDK do me a favor, next time you have such a kick ass game under your license promote it more. One of the best racing games no one will ever play, highly recommended!