Street Racing Syndicate PlayStation 2
Published by Namco
Developed by Namco
Distributed by Codemasters
Release Date: Out Now
Street Racing Syndicate, an introduction.
Street racing games have become very popular of late. Both the Need For Speed Underground and Midnight Club series are thriving and it appears gamers can't get enough of this sub-genre. Street Racing Syndicate is the latest title to let you purchase a car, add custom components and paint jobs in an attempt to create the hottest thing on four wheels. It's not just a simple going over of familiar ground and has a few original features of its own.
What's the game about?
Street Racing Syndicate offers three main modes. These are Street mode, Arcade mode and Multiplayer. Street mode is the heart of the game and it's probably where you'll focus all your attention. You'll start with a pile of cash (earned from a race you'll easily win at the very beginning) and you'll have to pick which car you want from an, initially, limited choice. After you've picked your car you can use the money you have left to apply better performing components along with custom paint jobs. From here on in you'll get to take part in roll up races, respect challenges, crew meets, sanctioned events, street challenges and you'll also get the opportunity to 'hook up' with a variety of girlfriends that are on offer. It's not all night time racing and you actually get to race some events during daylight which actually makes a nice change. Arcade mode offers Quick Races, Checkpoint Races, Iron Man and Speed Trial challenges. When you've had enough of the AI you can take on human opposition via split screen, LAN and online play. As you would expect the online mode offers buddy lists and leaderboards so you can see just how good you are. You can even challenge online opponents for their car. If you lose however, you'll forfeit your own car.
What's good about the game?
As most of the ingredients from other street racing games are to be found here it's pretty much guaranteed that if you are a fan of games such as NFSU 2 and MC3 you'll like what's on offer here. The formula is pretty much the same as in the aforementioned games. You start off with a pile of cash to purchase a car with. You'll easily win the first few races and upgrade the performance and look of your car whilst continually moving on to more challenging races. Some things are different though. You'll get the chance to place wagers before a race which can earn you more money. Rather than having to cruise the streets in search of locations you can simply go straight there which is a good inclusion. Sometimes you'll want to drive around and take on the drivers who offer a challenge to you. You have to remember that if the Police catch you driving around the city in a dangerous manner they will stop and fine you. You'll also have to try and 'hook up' with 18 girlfriends. These ladies are impressed by your driving performance and when your respect rating is high enough you'll get the chance to pass one of their challenges in order to 'hook up' with them. Having these ladies on your arm earns you a respect bonus and a video of them cavorting to some music. It's a bit of a tacky inclusion to be honest but I daresay some will appreciate the gyrations and gestures on show in the videos.
What's not so good about the game?
There are a couple of issues I have with Street Racing Syndicate. The main one has to be the temporary frame rate dips that can affect your handling of the car. Thankfully these aren't too frequent but it would have been much better if they hadn't occurred at all. Whilst the behaviour of the AI drivers is generally quite good they will from time to time attempt to smack you out of the way. This isn't as annoying as in Gran Turismo but they can cause some irritation, particularly in a closely fought race. I would have also preferred it if the game had supported the 900° rotation offered by the Logitech Driving Force Pro. Having played a fair amount of games that support this mode I've found that it offers a sense of refinement to the cars handling. Having the simple 200° wheel rotation made the handling feel too dumbed down. Whilst I understand the game is primarily an arcade experience, I still would have preferred the option to switch to a more realistic handling system.
How does it look?
Street Racing Syndicate is pretty much on a par with the other street racing games we've looked at recently (NFS: Underground 2 and MC3). The car models are fine and the locations you race also look pretty good. You'll notice blurring effects and neon lights galore just as in the other games in this genre. The frame rate for the most part is OK but there are moments when it does dip and there have been a few occasions where this has made the handling momentarily tricky. The cars do receive damage but the damage isn't realistic and doesn't appear to affect the handling of the car.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Support for deaf gamers in Street Racing Syndicate is quite shoddy. There are no subtitles at all and as a result you'll be unaware of all the dialogue in the cutscenes, videos and main game. Thankfully as poor as this is, it doesn't represent a major problem as all important information appears in text. Objectives are shown in text so you'll always know where to go next. When you're driving around the streets you'll see a police light icon that will alert you to the presence of the police. You'll also see icons over certain cars that tell you they are offering a challenge. All tutorial messages are shown in text and when choices need to be made they will appear in text so despite the lack of subtitles you'll still be able to play the game. That's not to say it isn't disappointing that subtitles haven't been included though.
It was always going to be difficult for Street Racing Syndicate to stand out with the popularity of the Need For Speed Underground and Midnight Club series. To make matters more difficult the game has taken a while to be released here in Europe (it came out last year in the US) and we've seen very good sequels in both the aforementioned series before Street Racing Syndicate was released. However, Street Racing Syndicate does have a lot to offer. Yes a lot of the game is similar to those other games but it's still worth playing and it's generally a solid effort all round. The addition of the girlfriends is tacky though and I hope it's a feature that's scrapped if a sequel is in the works.
Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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Street Racing Syndicate is a solid, if unspectacular, addition to the street racing sub-genre. Support for deaf gamers could have been better although there aren't any major problems.