Speed Devils (DC) Review
Presentation/Graphics : 86
The car models are also nicely done, and the designs are about as funky as they come. Again, they don't quite rate with the best of the best, but they're certainly more than adequate. On the downside, the vehicles appear to float a little at times, as if they're not solidly connected to the road.
Speed Devils serves up a nice assortment of 12 tracks. The ability to race them mirrored, at varying times of day, and in different weather conditions provides near endless variety. The tracks are set in various locales around the world and the environments are nicely detailed and littered with visual effects that will make it hard to keep your eyes glued to the road. The tracks feature lots of animation and interactive elements that change in behavior as you move up in class. These are best left to discover for yourself but, trust me, they are very cool. Shortcuts are abundant and you'll need to find and make effective use of them to remain competitive at the higher levels. The tracks are nice and long, and feature some nice design elements, but there are stretches that lack challenge and can become tedious over the course of a long race. Ubi Soft have clearly borrowed heavily from past racing games in terms of Speed Devil's track designs, but have still managed to put a fresh spin on things. Just when you think you've seen it all a hundred times before, you'll round a corner and discover something new and inventive.
Presentation/Audio : 80
Engine sounds and other audio effects are passable, but fall well short of what they could be. The music is decent, and well matched to each track, but it's not the sort of inspiring soundtrack that will have you wanting to pump up the volume.
Interface : 83
The control setup is the now-familiar Dreamcast racing configuration with the addition of handbrake and nitro boost controls. I tested the game with both the standard controller and Concept IV racing wheel, and both work very well.
There are two glaring problems with Speed Devils' interface. The first is that your preferred view is not saved from race to race. That's fine if you use the default exterior view, but if you like to race in first person mode, it's a major pain. The view can't be changed during the countdown so you have to wait until the race has begun, pause the game, change the view, and resume the race. The second problem is the lack of a rear-view mirror. This is simply inexcusable. The aggressive AI of the CPU drivers makes blocking essential, and a "look back" view just doesn't cut it.
Gameplay : 85
Advancing through the classes takes time and patience, at times too much of both. Seasoned racing fans will find the game very easy early on. However, in order to earn enough cash to advance through the classes, you'll have to spend a lot of time racing the lower levels to earn enough cash to buy the cars and upgrades that you'll need to become competitive as you move up. This can become tedious. Speed Devils has some white knuckle racing in store, but it's not evident early in the game. It's not until you get some hot wheels under you that you'll really begin to feel a sense of speed.
Each CPU driver has their own character and driving style. The characters change as you progress through the classes until the ultimate showdown with the infamous Driver X. Every class features one rival that serves as your main competition. The other drivers serve primarily as obstacles and will go out of their way to impede your success in the race, often to the detriment of their own standing. I don't mind aggressive AI, but it seems kind of cheap here. I'd far prefer that each opponent provide an equal challenge and have a shot at winning any given race. That's not the case with Speed Devils, and the racing can become predictable as a result.
The cars control really well and are plenty of fun to drive, just don't expect real-world physics. The loopy handling is well matched to the wacky car designs and comic book feel of the game, but takes a little time to adjust to. Before you know it you'll be powersliding with the best of 'em.
Replay Value : 90
Overall : 85
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