Race Driver: Create and Race (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 01.10.2007 7

The Race Driver series has a massive following now thanks to Codemasters' continued efforts to keep the standards so considerably high. But so far Nintendo fans have not really been treated to anything special in the racing stakes. However, now the Nintendo DS is getting its first taste of the TOCA action, courtesy of Scottish team 'Firebrand Games'. Can the team use its past experience and expertise in the racing field to bring the ultimate racing game to the Nintendo DS. And does it live up to the strong brand name? Well, that is what we are about to find out...

Racing games on the Nintendo DS never look particularly attractive, even if the system supposedly has the same raw power as the Nintendo 64. Sadly this means not only are car models usually frightfully ugly, but course backdrops are either extremely jagged in appearance, pop-up out of nowhere due to a very short draw-distance or are superbly bland due to the developer removing most aspects to keep the speed as high as possible. And then there is the actual issue of the speed itself, which despite the removal of track-side features, can normally be pretty woeful as soon as more than two cars appear on-screen at any one time. Thankfully Race Drive avoids all of these specific pitfalls by starting from the ground-up and tailoring the developer's specialist game engine (the second evolution of 'Octane') to suit the strict requirements of the limited DS hardware.

The result? A game that blows away the competition and is truly fantastic to see in motion. Sure, the car models look a little pixellated up-close and in static screenshots, but the angle at which you drive leaves enough distance between your eyes and the cars make this hardly noticeable. There is even a plentiful supply of trackside detail, with seating areas, large trees and various other paraphernalia that you would associate with the racing environment, such as tyre stacks. And damn is it fast! Locked at 60fps you really can feel the difference as your vehicle zooms around the numerous courses at break-neck speed...and, as expected, it seems even faster if you switch from the behind-the-car camera to through the windscreen! The best 3D racing on the DS without a doubt...

Screenshot for Race Driver: Create and Race on Nintendo DS

It is a shame then that the audio element of Race Driver lets the presentation side down considerably. Okay, so this is a realistic racing game, but some non-intrusive background music would have been appreciated during races, or even the odd bit of voice work warning you of approaching corners and hazards; just something to break the monotony. However, there is nothing, just the endless drone of the vehicle's engine, which will drive you crazy after a short while. Also, the tunes played during the various menus are really poor and certainly not pleasing on the ears, so the tendency is to just turn the volume off and crank up your tunes on a CD player.

There are a large amount of positive sides to Race Driver, though, and so many reasons to keep coming back to it that you will be hard-pressed to find time for any other racing games this year. First up, there is the main tournament on offer that is not purely a few races strung together, but a comprehensive mode with a wide selection of stages to compete in (forty-five real world circuits, to be precise!). Each level is split into two or more different race types, each using alternative vehicle classes to increase the game's variety (again, for the sake of completeness, there are twenty-four licensed cars in total, all of which handle slightly differently). Within each race group there are several tracks to race on, with you accumulating points depending on your final position and your overall total determining whether or not you qualify for the next level. Remember, no cheating is allowed either, with disqualification coming to those who try short-cuts or drive dangerously!

Screenshot for Race Driver: Create and Race on Nintendo DS

The handling of each vehicle type, ranging from standard race cars to even large trucks, varies so much that even though you might feel you are an expert to start with, suddenly you will be faced with something like the drag racing style of vehicle, with its loose handling and prone-to-skidding-round-corners-easily characteristics and suddenly you become an amateur once more. The handling is not just a case of the developer randomly switching things around, either, since Firebrand has painstakingly worked real-life physics into Race Driver and squeezed realistic car handling based upon simulations into the game in order to provide the best possible feel when using the D-pad for steering. Whilst the touch-screen is not used during racing (thankfully, in all honesty), the dual-screen use is well-implemented with the course layout on one and the actual racing action on the other, along with a gauge on the right-hand part of the map screen that shows just how badly damaged your vehicle currently is (gears, tyres, engine and so on).

Race Driver exudes a great sense of arcade fun, with the game being simple enough to pick-up-and-play and yet balances it out perfectly with the amount of realism poured into the final package. This means that both veteran TOCA Race Driver fans will feel right at home, yet the casual DS market will not be completely alienated and overwhelmed when approaching the title. As well as the main world tournament, there is a pro tournament mode to unlock, plus the default choices of 'Simulation' (which includes Free Race, Time Trial and Challenge

Screenshot for Race Driver: Create and Race on Nintendo DS

For someone that has never taken to the rally driving genre, instead preferring more light-hearted games such as Mario Kart or full-on arcade racing in the form of Ridge Racer, Race Driver: Create and Race comes as a massive shock to the system in just how accessible and endearing it is, yet clearly it retains all of the elements of previous TOCA-style efforts that have appeared in the past. If Firebrand can win over someone as stubborn as myself with its first attempt at realistic DS racing, then surely the rest of the nation will be sorely tempted to try this out. Whatever the case, it deserves strong sales so that its future on Nintendo formats is solidified and an eventual Wii version is considered as well. Do not overlook this genuinely brilliant racing experience.

Screenshot for Race Driver: Create and Race on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

This is by far the most extensive and impressive racing experience the Nintendo DS has seen since being released back at the end of 2004. Firebrand Games has taken its wealth of experience and expertise and crafted a powerful product that not only puts all other DS efforts to shame, but also many home console driving games. If you are considering picking up a driving game for your portable system, make sure you track this gem down.

Developer

Firebrand

Publisher

Codemasters

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I,ve been looking forword to this game for ages.

Yeah it looks and plays amazing, and its got online play too which makes it all the better, i can't do that damn japanese prix thing the cars are too fast and turning is impossible! this is the first racing game where they've truly achieved speed and u feel like you're actually travelling at that speed with no lag or drawback, great game.

Wow, did not see that coming. A 9

Sounds absolutely fantastic, I might give it a look. Great work Adam. :-D

Official Nintendo Magazine gave the game 83%, but it deserves a far better rating than that. Sadly the game hasn't even made it into the DS Top 30 here in the UK, which could jeopardise the series' future on Nintendo formats...hopefully it'll bounce higher next week.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

AWWWWWWEEEESOOOOMEEEEE
I want this game soooooo bad


My Life & blog: Random Thoughts, Photos, stuff, videos and links
site|blog|twitter

Has there been any TV coverage of this game? Considering how big the TOCA franchise is, I would have thought Codemasters would be pushing this like crazy...It's such a shame more people aren't getting to sample this, yet will likely pick up the new Need for Speed on DS instead :roll:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, Dragon0085, lupalionessa, Renan

There are 4 members online at the moment.