Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift 2 Review

Most of us have seen one or more of the Fast and the Furious movies where super-pimped-out-cars compete in races and drifting contests. Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift 2 is the second offering from Crave which attempts to recreate the experience of these outlaw racing events. As we take this game through its paces, we’ll find out if TXRD2 makes it to the finish line or spins out in defeat.

If you haven’t played this franchise before, you’ll be somewhat surprised to learn that you don’t necessarily have to finish a race to win and that the hardest part of this racing title is about scoring points while drifting your car through the tight turns and corners of various courses and obstacles. What is drifting? If you boil it all down to two words, drifting is controlled skidding. In TXRD2, you’ll spend more than a healthy amount of time in perfecting this seemingly impossible task. As we’ll find out later, this is the game’s strength and weakness.

TXRD2 isn’t really a racing game in the traditional sense. It’s more like a gigantic game that is knitted together with hundreds of different short races, challenges, tuning chores, and related events. The scenario for this game is to make it to the top of the heap by defeating racing adversaries in a number of legal and illegal racing events. During the day, you put on your respectability and enter sanctioned car races that are legal and aboveboard. At night, you participate in outlaw races to challenge other teams for fame and fortune. But whether you race during the day or night, your career revolves around beating the competition or completing challenges. And as we’ll find out, those particular challenges are difficult.

The meat of this game is in the Conquest mode. It is here where you’ll sign up for sponsors and participate in battles and races. The battles are broken down into several categories: SP (spirit battle), CA (cornering artist), FL (first or last), and TA (time attack.) You win in many of the events either by coming in first, (obviously) or by stretching your lead so far ahead of your competitor that you win by default. In the case of the CA battles, you’ll have to accumulate points by drifting your car.

Gameplay is pretty straight forward and the many menus of TXRD2 will give you the opportunity to buy and sell cars, tune them up for maximum performance, select your time to do legal (day) or illegal (night) races and accumulate CP in order to buy parts and accessories to pimp your ride. There’s a storyline in this game, and you interact with other racers and sponsors by way of emails. The emails contain challenges from other drivers, sponsor information, chatter regarding upcoming events and trash talk from your rivals.

The physics of this game are pretty good — almost too good because the difficulty in learning how to drift properly will take up a lot of your time. The manual goes into the art of drifting ever so briefly and you’ll find yourself saying a few choice words as you continually slam into walls and terrain and see your accumulated points go down to zero. I’m not kidding when I say you’ll spend a huge amount of time on developing your skills in this area because the game is extremely unforgiving in the mistakes you make. If you just touch or glance off of an object, the point counter immediately deducts any of the points you accrued up to that point. A good challenge is good for any game, but this particular aspect can drive you crazy (pun intended.) But what is left unsaid in the game about the art of drifting is how you setup your car. You can adjust the suspension, tire camber, tires, height of the car, angle of your spoiler, brake strength, gear ratios, LSD and much more. Now since I am not a NASCAR or Formula 1 racecar driver, I couldn’t tell you a toe-in from a toe out setting, let alone fooling with the suspension and other car details.

While there are short definitions for each alteration you can make to your car, but the definitions sound distinctly foreign and strange. If I make my car less prone to "rolling," that’s good. But what is "rolling?" You may find yourself a little overwhelmed by all of this and get lost in the shuffle. Bolting on parts is an art in itself as certain parts can only be compatible with others. So if you’re not paying close attention, that souped up engine you installed may not work with other parts that you purchase.

There are straight-ahead race events during the day portion of the game, and these are easy to enter and get into. But the real challenge, and not to mention a high amount of frustration, comes in trying to complete courses that are CA (cornering artist) intensive. Since the game manual is sparse on info on how to properly drift and the video game doesn’t offer a tutorial on this very important function, you’re left to drift, as it were, all by yourself in trying to figure out the mechanics of how to do it. It’s possible to accomplish this, but I probably could have saved myself a lot of grief if a better manual or tutorial was included in TXRD2.

But ironically, if you stay away from the drifting portions of the game, your enjoyment level will probably go up as you go head-to-head with outlaw racers in the various venues you compete in. But you can’t avoid these CA races for long because you eventually have to compete in these sorts of battles. You’ll also be involved in traffic cone obstacle races in some of the racing events. In these competitions, you’ll be going against the clock to navigate through a parking lot filled with traffic cones. At the beginning of these challenges, a HUD display shows you what the layout is, and you’ll have to go over the course very slowly in order to memorize the twists and turns. These events have many levels – with each one more difficult then the last. You’ll swear that it’s humanly impossible to finish some of these courses within the allotted time. Yes, it is possible, but depending on your patience and dedication, you may throw up your arms in triumph or cry like a little baby. (I invoke the 5th Amendment on how I did on this.)

Graphically speaking, it’s one of the finest looking racing games ever to enter the DVD drive bay of the PS2. The title runs at 60fps and the scenery is gorgeous. While racing the Hakone course, I was blown away by the pretty scenery and fallen cherry blossoms on the road. The down side to this was seeing 2D cutouts of spectators along the sides of the race course. It actually was pretty funny, but unintentionally so. The weather changes during your races and the rain falling upon your windshield looks just like the real thing. But if you don’t like the rain, you can always purchase special dolls from "mystery" stores. These dolls can be used to control certain weather conditions during the game.

There are over 180 cars in TXRD2 and you’ll be pleased as punch with the varied selection of cars from many of the major car manufacturers such as Honda, Mazda, and Nissan. The cars look very realistic and handling characteristics seem to mimic their real life counterparts.

The sound adequately portrays the engine sounds and screeching of tires as you go through the different courses, but the music may need some more work. Some of it is ok, but there are tunes in this game that defy your tolerance on being open to different forms of music. Some tracks have some awful sounding arrangements of trumpets and saxophones blaring in unison and I had to turn down the music so as not to throw my game controller at my speakers. But that’s just me, (blame it on being a former music major) and you may find the tunes quite appealing.

Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift 2 is a very well produced game with great graphics, deep gameplay and lots of racing action. But as strange as it seems, the defining aspect of this game, the drifting, is the game’s biggest weakness. The method of learning and mastering drifting is not only hard; it borders on the threshold of pain. Some will see TXRD2 as a breath of fresh air in the racing genre while many others will see it as a flawed game that could have been a contender. But overall, while the game has very high production values, it falls short of really being good because of faulty game controls and its sever learning curve. But at only 15 bucks for the price of entry, it maybe worth a shot for those who want a little something more then your ordinary racer.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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