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Speed Devils – Second Opinion

Ben Hopper's picture

To be perfectly frank, Speed Devils is one of the worst games I've played all year. This thing is ugly from top to bottom. It's not very original or cool (although it thinks it is), the gameplay is weak, the graphics are dull, the music sucks and most of all, it's boring—Speed Devils lacks any kind of excitement whatsoever. High energy is what carried games like Daytona USA and F-Zero X over the edge. High energy even saved San Francisco Rush from being a complete waste of time. Unfortunately, high energy is something Speed Devils doesn't have.

The Championship mode Dale mentioned is at least notable, if only because it's the only thing that gets Speed Devils out of the traffic jam on the Generic Racing Game Expressway. But the racing itself is so blah that I found it hard to get excited about the idea of betting against other drivers. Sure, it may be enticing to accept a challenge from some cocky competitor, and the rivalries that form as a result of the races make things interesting. But ultimately, you have to race, and it just isn't any fun doing three long laps around several poorly-designed, desolate courses. All the environments are very quiet and plain. There's literally no life in this game—it's like every race location was quarantined by the government. Sometimes rocks will fall in front of a car's path, or the shark in Hollywood will try to get you (oh, scary), but that's about the extent of the game's surprises. There are no wild crashes or collisions to get your blood pumping, either. When a car hits something, it just stops dead in its tracks.

The game doesn't succeed in selling the seedy, money-racing underground, either. Not for a moment did I feel like I was part of some bad-boy club like the game wants you to believe. I didn't feel threatened by "The Bet-taker," a lame Kingpin rip-off who talks to you in these long, rolling text boxes. However, I think the fact that Ubi Soft couldn't come up with a better name for this guy speaks volumes about their creativity (or lack thereof). None of the game's "personalities" really made an impression on me now that I think about it. All of the racers are supposed to be wild and crazy, but they're all represented by static, comic book-style drawings and boring text (ala Road Rash). Even worse, the game depends on these half-baked, half-realized characters to pump up the action before each race by showing you their unique driving styles and tendencies. If these guys drive any differently from each other, you wouldn't know it by watching them during a race, and it certainly doesn't make the races any more interesting.

And of course, Speed Devils follows the old adage that all bad boys and girls must drive hot rods from the '60s and '70s. Haven't we progressed at all since the days of Grease? I don't care how tough you're supposed to look in an American muscle car, the cars in Speed Devils are just plain ugly. Speed Devils also tries to convince you that you're being naughty when you speed past cops and their radar guns. Big deal—the cops don't even react to your presence anyway, so the whole thing is pointless. The game rewards you by giving you extra cash, but it would have been better to have the cops come out of their speed traps to chase reckless drivers. I guess that might have actually been fun or something. Instead, the word "busted" flashes across the screen. (Busted—that's a cool word, right?)

Speed Devils is supposed to be a next-generation racing game, and instead it ends up making the Dreamcast look really bad. How can we be expected to play something like this when we have Crazy Taxi, a game that could be called the very antithesis of Speed Devils. The game doesn't look good, it doesn't sound good, and it doesn't do anything that's particularly interesting. I can't recommend a game like that. An injection of some high-octane fuel might have given Speed Devils some drive, but as it is, this vehicle is just running on empty. Rating: 2.0 out of 10

Category Tags
Platform(s): Dreamcast  
Developer(s): Ubisoft Montreal  
Publisher: Ubisoft  
Genre(s): Driving  
ESRB Rating: Everyone  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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