Written on: 10/11/2008 by TOMLEECEE (121 reviews written)
Great vehicle customisation options
Longevity of Quest mode
Poor music and sound effects
Vehicle handling can be a bit iffy
Night-time motorway setting can get monotonous
Tokyo Extreme Racer 2 is, as the name suggests, a sequel to the Dreamcast launch title Tokyo Extreme Racer and improves on the original in several areas - but at the same time fails to correct some of its problems.
The Extreme Racer series differs from most titles in the genre in that rather than have a traditional set up i.e.: race around a circuit against other cars and try to cross the finish line in first position; you drive around the highways and byways of late night Tokyo looking for opponents from various gangs to challenge to one on one street races. In order to challenge one of these gang members, you have to drive up behind them and flash your high beams. Providing they accept your challenge (sometimes they just tell you to leave them alone), the race begins. Two beat 'em up-style power gauges appear at the top of the screen and the race is on - whoever is in the lead drain the energy from the opponents bar and when it's fully depleted it's race over. This can make for some pretty furious races, with you constantly overtaking each other and whittling down each other's energy bars until all it takes is one minor error and you've lost the battle.
Once the challenge is over, and providing you win, you are awarded credits to spend on car upgrades. The criteria for amassing credits are based on things like the length of the race and the car class of your opponent - so naturally, the better the race, the more points you get to mod your vehicle.
Speaking of vehicles, you start the quest mode with a small amount of credits and a visit to the car showroom. Of course, at this point the only vehicles you can afford are pretty puny but you do get a lot of choice when it comes to upgrading and modifying the bodywork of your chosen jalopy. It's nowhere near as in-depth as something like Gran Turismo et al, but the ability to add side skirts and spoilers or change the tint of your headlights is cool, and the engine, drive-train and handling upgrades really do affect the capability of your ride - which helps massively because some of the basic car models corner like busses: you'll often find yourself bouncing off barriers and walls instead of gliding around bends like a seasoned drifter.
Apart from the main Quest mode (where you have to defeat rival gang members untill you are the king of the highways), there are the usual single race, time attack and free run modes.
I suppose the only real areas where Extreme Racer 2 falls down are in the sound department (rubbish techno tunes and generic engine drones abound) and in the nature of the single track gameplay. You see, whilst the game boasts over 180 miles of highway to drive on, it all looks very samey and you'd be hard pressed to tell one section from any other. Also, the game is played in a perpetual night, which is nice because it helps to show off the highly polished vehicles and lighting effects, but dull because dawn never breaks and the sun never sets. I suppose this is just me being picky, but it would've been nice to have a day/night cycle and also the inclusion of cop chases etc may have added something to the somewhat sedentary pace of the game.
As it is though, Tokyo Extreme Racer 2 is still an enjoyable racer that features some cool ideas and some brilliant visuals but ultimately gets repetitive after lengthy play. Still, it's an improvement over the original and that's the aim of any sequel - so mission accomplished.
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