You're not going to need your brakes for this one!
Ubi Soft's new game is a fast paced 3-D race for your life through just about every kind of track possible. Pod has many good features that make this game worth playing, but at the same time, it has some shortcomings that keep this game from being as addictive as other racers out there.
You will immediately see that there is a lot to this game just by the installation time (very long). When installation is finally complete, you are greeted with a futuristic scene animated with just about everything you would expect in a futuristic kind of scene: planets, spacecrafts, and a futuristic city! Did I mention it was futuristic?
Unlike other racing games out there, Pod actually has a story! The plot takes place on a planet which is doomed to explode. Unfortunately, there's only one ship left for one person to leave the planet, and Jorel wants it for that bratty boy of his (just kidding!). While the planet's time is quickly running out , the only way to determine who gets that spot on the ship is to conduct races on the planet using vehicles of your own construction. The winner of these races will be the one who escapes destruction from the planet's fate. The problem is that you're not the only one who wants that spot on the ship. Everybody else also wants to leave, and they are going to do everything they can to run you off the road.
Probably the first thing you'll notice on your first race is going to be the tremendous graphics. Pod utilizes MMX technology (if you have it), and it supports the 3Dfx card, ATI 3D card, and the S3D onboard (if you have one of those). Even if you don't have the MMX technology or a 3D accelerator, the graphics are still very detailed, and the game is still pretty smooth. Without the MMX technology, you can get up to 32 frames per second, but with the MMX, you can get up to 80 frames per second! This translates into ripping graphics and detail.
During the course of the game, you have the opportunity to race on 16 different tracks, each with excellent 3-D graphics. Sometimes you'll be racing in a canyon, other times in a sewer. Each track has different types of rendered scenery ,and there is more than one path which you can take during the race, offering even more variety. The tracks range from simple, straight ones with only a few turns to tracks with a sharp turn every 2 seconds. You can choose from a variety of different cars with automatic or manual controls. There are also some appealing and subtle details about Pod. For example, you can hear a car pulling up behind you while you're driving. Pod also employs an artificial intelligence system which allows the computer to adapt to your racing style.
Although Pod excels in some areas of graphics and detail, there is still room for improvement. First, due to the color similarity between the track and the surrounding walls, it is easy for one to get dizzy after playing for just a little while. Also, you will notice that the controls of Pod are kind of 'trigger happy'. Holding the turn button causes a very drastic turn. While this enables you to easily make a 90 degree turn, more gentle turns often end up with the front of your car crashing into the wall. You really need to have an analog sttering wheel to properly play this game.
The only commands you use are for the turning, and shifting up and down gears. You really don't ever need to even use the brake, making for a game that doesn't require that much skill. This makes the game good for kids, but for those who have played other racers, like Rage Racer, it is more boring and less challenging because there isn't really much to master. Finally, the music throughout each stage is very similar if not the same. Unfortunately, the tune itself isn't that catchy and doesn't really get you into the game, so after playing the game for a few hours, one can quickly become sick of hearing the same music stage after stage.
Despite the presence of these problems, none are so unbearable as to make this game no fun to play. The music issue can quickly be solved by playing some MP3 files instead of the CD music, or just muting the speaker and turning on a stereo. The game itself is fun enough to keep you amused when finding something to do. After all, Pod is a high paced racing game with some vehicles reaching speeds of over 200mph. Overall, I'd say that Ubi Soft has itself a winner. Combined with the FREE Internet competition and Multiplayer options, Pod won't be something you'll be seeing in the bargain bin anytime soon.