Virtua Racing


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 6

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 7

Sega really broke new ground with Virtua Racing. Though there were a few other driving games before it that featured polygons (Hard Drivin' comes to mind immediately), none had them moving with such fluidity. Amazingly, the huge arcade game was actually ported over to the lowly Genesis, then the 32X and Saturn. The 32X port is the middle of the road version with some great new features that put it above the Genesis rendition.

Virtua Racing offers up some rather standard modes which include arcade racing and a time attack. 2-players can play at the same time via split screen as well. You can select from 3 different cars, two of which are new to the game, a stock car and a "prototype." The prototype car moves at insane speeds, faster than any other car in the game. Two extra courses have been included as well, finally adding some much needed replay value.

All of the cars control differently, but using a D-pad to steer is a challenge. There is certainly a necessary adjustment period and while this is taking place, be prepared to spin out constantly and ram the walls. Regardless, with some practice, you'll be taking corners better than any professional could, making for some truly spectacular maneuvers.

Due to its roots in the arcade, you'll always be up against a timer and expected to make checkpoints within a given time limit. This gives the game an extra challenge, but occasionally this timer is unforgiving, giving players only one chance to screw up before they lose. It's imperative to know the layout of the track in order to beat this one so practice, as usual, makes perfect.

The races are always packed with cars, up to 16 in the largest competitions. The graphics are only a minor step up from the Genesis version with low-res un-textured shaded polygons providing a nice (though obviously dated) 3-D look on the tracks. There are some background details that were not in the Genesis version, but of course nowhere near the amount in the arcade version. You can view the action from 4 different locations, including one that puts you right into the cockpit. It's not very functional, but it gives the player a great sense of speed. Pop-up is also an issue, though it's not bad enough to be a problem.

Music only plays at the menu, the start of the race, and at checkpoints. It's great racing music and it's a shame there isn't more of it. There are some crystal clear voice samples, though some of them are absolutely hilarious. Mere words cannot describe the hilarity that will ensue after hearing "fastest lap." Regardless of the comedy factor, these are some of the best sound samples on the system.

Virtua Racing will undoubtedly go down as a classic, even though it becomes more dated every day. That's a true sign of great gameplay and ends up being one of the best games for the ill-fated console. If you're a fan of the game, you'll certainly be better off with the flawless Saturn port, but this is a nice step up from 16-bit version on the Genesis (which was still pretty stunning given the hardware).


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Last updated: Sunday, January 30, 2005 05:56 PM