Dead ant...dead ant...dead ant, dead ant, dead ant...
Sometimes it takes the really bad games to remind us all how good the good ones are, the bitter pill to contrast the sweet, sweet honey. After all, it's been a great season for console games, and I've been having a ball. Now it's time for some bile.
Apparently, all the different ants from the movie Antz decided to get together and have a good time racing one another. Sure, why not. They don't have anything better to do. I, on the other hand, can think of many things I'd rather be doing. Staring at the sun, for instance.
Indeed, this is a kart racer based on the movie...which came out in 1998. That's four years by my watch. Unless I'm missing some odd new Burger King promotion or something, I can't figure out why someone would want to make a game based on Antz right now. And after popping it into my PS2, I can't figure out why someone would want to play a game based on Antz right now.
Antz Extreme Racing features four different styles of racing, and all of them suffer from loose control. Different levels require different vehicles. You'll drive karts made out of bugs, take to the skies via flying insects, and occasionally hop aboard a leaf, hang ten, and whoosh away down leaves and shrubbery. When all else fails, you'll go at it old-school style by racing on your creepy crawly feet.
But regardless of which style you choose, you will find wishy-washy steering and unimaginative control options. There is a brake-assisted turn, but it's minimally essential.
By ramming into flowers, the different racers gain mosquito weapons. It doesn't make a lick of sense, but hell, this game didn't make sense in the first place. Some mosquitos can be used like shells as projectile weapons. There are also speed boost and shield mosquitos. The only way to discern what each mosquito does is by remembering the different colors - not a terribly straightforward method.
At any rate, your opponents are pretty much devoid of intelligence. They just step on the gas and take off on their beeline routines. Occasionally they might try an attack on you, but they usually miss. The competition isn't there at all.
The track design is inherently boring, with multiple laps that recycle the same bland drive from the ant-sized view of the world. While it runs by at a steady framerate, it all looks very drab. Outdoor greenery and brown dirt roads pass by in an uninspired parade of dull textures. Objects often cut into one another, and sometimes part of the environment might completely block your point of view.
In perhaps the biggest disgrace to the movie's relative success, there are absolutely no voices in Antz Extreme Racing. Even though the original voices were done by somewhat unobtainable stars (well, if Sly Stone can still be considered a star), there isn't even one yell, one comment, one single lonely phrase uttered in the entire game. This has to be the most audibly sterile racing game ever. Why are they even bothering with the license again?
For the music maybe? Gosh, I hope not, as the soundtrack is New Age style Yanni crap - nothing from the movie, just odd chanting that feels entirely out of place.
Why couldn't the money that was spent on the Antz license be used towards making a better game? I mean, who the hell even cares about Antz? The movie was fine, I guess, but it also came out four years ago. Are kids suddenly clamoring for Antz gear? Am I that out of touch?
It doesn't really matter, anyway. This is a poor excuse for a kart racer, and a poor excuse for a game. Everything else seems so much sweeter in comparison. A good punch to the face would be like candy to me.