Game companies have been battling it out on the street racing scene for some time now, so you’d think that their engines would be tuned to perfection. Sadly, though, some don’t do enough work under the hood before shipping their latest to the lots, leading to shiny cars that fall apart before our very eyes.
[image1]Can you see what’s coming?
If you can’t, perhaps you need to look into gaming’s past. Back in the Dreamcast era, developer Genki came out with Tokyo Xtreme Racer, a half-baked import tuner with wacky physics and terrible control, though it somehow amassed a cult following thanks to its customization and cool battle system. Seven years and a new publisher later, we get Street Supremacy for the PSP, an old half-baked import tuner with wacky physics and terrible control, minus the good parts. If this clunker gets a cult following, I quit.
Anyone who remembers Tokyo Xtreme (or any of the other games in the series) will recognize Street Supremacy‘s model immediately: you play an oddly nicknamed racer trying to conquer the freeways of Tokyo to gain fame, fortune and glory. In fact, the freeways are pretty much exactly the same as the ones in Tokyo Xtreme, only this time, you don’t get to roam the streets to pick a fight.
The beginning of the game starts off innocently enough. You can initially spend your limited funds on a selection of bunk rides, after which you are introduced to the racing gang of your choice. Rather than venturing out on your own, Street Supremacy sets you up in a racing crew out to wrest territory from the kung-fu grip of rival gangs. Each section of the freeway map allows you to challenge members of rival gangs in an effort to weaken their control over that particular part of the streets. Meanwhile, your ‘home’ sections allow you to challenge your own gang members in order to increase your rank in the pecking order.
[image2]This setup could have been a winner if it had any sort of tangible impact on the game, but there’s really no strategy to taking over territories. You just pick out the weakest racers you can handle from each territory and move on before you’re taken out by a bigger fish. With the exception of occasional team events in which gangs go head to head, you can ignore the team aspect of the game entirely and concentrate on beating opponents one at a time.
Unlike the game Street Supremacy is based on, you don’t freely roam about the freeways of Tokyo. I suppose it’s just as well, since the majority of the freeway system is a generic two lane deal with the occasional curve and random car. Instead of cruising around and getting into trouble, you merely select a point on the map, pick out your opponent from a menu and off you go. Selecting a rival with the appropriate level each time gives you a chance at amassing an undefeated record, but taking on a car with too much under the hood will result in a loss every time. It’s painfully clear how to proceed, so you just enter one race after another. It’s incredibly repetitive and bland.
The races themselves use the same battle setup as the Tokyo Xtreme games. Each car has a life bar that depletes when trailing an opponent. The further behind you are, the faster the bar goes down. In turn, races almost always follow one of two patterns: (1) You fall behind right off the bat, steadily gain speed, finally overtake your opponent and hang on for the win or (2) You get smoked at the start and never see your opponent’s taillights again. There’s not a whole lot of variety here, as there are very few random cars on the road to make things interesting. In fact, the only thing spicing up the racing is cheap A.I., which occasionally permits the other car to jump ahead at the very end of a race to snatch victory from your jaws.
[image3]To make matters worse, all cars handle terribly. Though import racers are known for being quick and nimble, the cars in Street Supremacy tend to drive more like an M1 Abrams than an M3 BMW. Cars steer sluggishly; performing quick cuts around the occasional obstacle is nigh impossible. The physics are preposterous – even ramming directly into a wall does little more than shave a few ticks off your life bar.
It wouldn’t be a tuner without car customization, but buying parts in Street Supremacy is a chore as ridiculously overpriced aero parts discourage experimentation. The import scene is half show and half go, but here wheels or body kits can run you just as much as the cost of that engine upgrade or transmission boost. The cost/value balance is way off.
So is the multiplayer, which is pretty much broken. Only available in head to head Ad Hoc matches, it hardly works at all, but when a game is this bad, there’s really no use in bringing your friends along for the ride, anyway.
The one thing that Street Supremacy manages to get right is the look. Cars are rendered nicely (all two or three of them at a time), the (one) environment holds up well enough and there aren’t any framerate issues. The audio isn’t bad either, but that’s because there’s barely any here.
But such decent delivery means next to nothing with gameplay this bad. Street Supremacy introduces an interesting concept with the racing gang turf war, but drives it off a cliff with bad handling, little excitement and no fun. Donate this hoopdie to charity.