The Xbox has already proven itself to be a great console for driving games. We've had Project Gotham Racing, Rallisport Challenge, SEGA GT and Colin McRae Rally 3. In fact for a console that's just over a year old (in Europe) that's very impressive. Racing Evoluzione attempts to add a new twist to the driving game genre and by all accounts it succeeds.
Instead of taking the usual route of offering the gamer a collection of cars to control with more just waiting to be unlocked, Racing Evoluzione lets you design your way to driving success. The heart of the game is Dream mode, which begins with you buying a small, old garage. Your engineer and racing partner Mike Collodo, whilst taking a look around the garage, discovers three old blueprints for racing cars. Mike informs you that if you choose one of the three you want, which all have their pluses and minuses, he will build the car. Six months later the car is built. You have to choose the name of your company, as well as a logo and you can begin to race.
Success brings it's own rewards and as you progress car companies will become interested in your cars, requests will come in to buy your cars, and the press will also pay you attention throwing the odd challenge your way to give you some extra publicity. Should you begin to sell cars this will help fund research and development for better models that will enable you to enter bigger, higher level, championships. You don't have to go onward and upward though as you can produce cars in the same class and continue to drive in the same class if you wish. It's compulsive gameplay for any that are interested in racing games.
The game also has an Arcade mode that allows you to race with, rather than against the licensed cars in the game. There are over 40 licensed cars in the game from the likes of Aston Martin, Mercedes, Jaguar, Lotus, Chevrolet, Ford, etc. In the Dream mode you can unlock some of these cars to use in the Arcade mode. The Arcade mode offers you the choice of Quick Race, Time Attack and One-on-One which is for two players. There are 4 types of circuit for you to race on and 4 categories of cars for you to drive. In fairness the Arcade mode isn't anything special but it's the Dream mode that you'll want the game for.
One of the best things about a driving game being on the Xbox is that they are far easier to control with the superb analogue sticks and triggers that easily rival a steering wheel for their precise control. The control system in Racing Evoluzione is practically identical to the one used in Project Gotham Racing which is great news as PGR had superb controls and it's the same with Racing Evoluzione.
Racing Evoluzione is no slouch when it comes to graphics either. It's fair to say that the cars and the scenery look great. Framerate is all in a driving game and thankfully there is no slowdown to be had here. The cars do damage but the damage model isn't as impressive as what's on offer in some of the other titles in the genre.
Unlike TOCA Race Driver (a racing game, like Racing Evoluzione, which has quite a bit of dialogue between the races), Racing Evoluzione is subtitled. This makes the game very enjoyable for deaf gamers, as you'll be able to follow the conversations and fully understand what is going on. There is a verbal notification when you begin the final lap of the race that is not shown in text but this is no great loss as you can easily see this from the information that is onscreen whilst you are driving.
The only complaint I have with the game is that the Dream mode won't actually take all that long to complete. The Arcade mode is OK but you certainly wouldn't buy the game for it. That said though it's a very enjoyable game with AI opponents that actually race fair and don't cheat by knocking you out of the way or are always just behind your car no matter how much faster your car is (mentioning no names but thinking of GT3). It's definitely one of the best racing games in a long while to arrive on the Xbox and any racing fans should definitely consider buying it.
Game Rating: 8.2/10