Let's just for a second forget that Star Wars: Episode I, Racer has anything at all to do with the film on which it's based. Would it still have any appeal if you take away the movie license? The answer, almost surprisingly, is yes. This sci-fi arcade racing game is packed with high-speed thrills and a unique style of track-circling action that should get any racing fan's adrenaline pumping.
The game is based on the pod-racing scene from Episode I, which was arguably the best and most exciting segment of the film. Players enter a series of pod races as either Anakin Skywalker or one of his 20 different alien rivals--including Sebulba, once you get far enough into the game to unlock this bonus character. Races are linked in four different circuits, each more difficult than the last. The highest circuit, in fact, can be extremely tough.
Each race is a white-knuckled ride on the wild side, as the game does an excellent job of conveying a feeling of ferocious speed. It helps that Racer utilizes spectacular 3-D graphics to depict the racetracks and their alien surroundings. But racers can't waste time admiring the scenery: tracks are not always well marked, and it's all too easy to get lost and fly off the track.
As with most Star Wars games, the sound effects and music in Racer are top-notch. True, Anakin's cutesy voice can be annoying at times, but the other racers sound great when they complain as you pass them on the track. Watto the shopkeeper, the floating alien guy who sells new parts and upgrades for your pod, is a great character who chatters away humorously as you shop his store.
Overall, Racer is a game that can easily stand on its own merits rather than ride the coattails of Star Wars: Episode I. Intense speed, unique racing action, and excellent 3-D graphics make this one a sure-fire winner. --Michael E. Ryan
- Unique, high-speed racing action
- Excellent graphics
- Pod upgrades
- Great sound effects and music
- Becomes extremely difficult at the highest levels
- Tracks can be confusing at times
- The voice of Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker)
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