Hands-onSmashing Drive Xbox

We recently got a chance to race through New York in a tricked-out taxi. Get the heads-up on Namco's Smashing Drive for the Xbox.

We've been able to get our hands on Smashing Drive, Namco's arcade-style racing game, in which players drive a futuristic cab through a bustling New York City. Another console port of the Smashing Drive arcade game hit stores last February for the GameCube, and the game is currently slated for release in June on the Xbox.

Smashing Drive's signature gameplay is made up of driving recklessly through crowded city traffic and flying through as many different shortcuts as possible, including climbing flights of stairs, hurtling over bodies of water, or even racing straight up the side of a building. Your taxicab can also pick up a variety of power-ups, some of which allow your car to glide, cut through obstacles with a pair of buzz saws, smash through cars with a powerful bumper, or explode any of the other vehicles on the road with the sonic assault of a blaring horn.

From what we've been able to gather of the Xbox version so far, it has remained a direct translation of the arcade version and includes the same levels, secret routes, and power-up locations, as well as the same degree of difficulty. The Xbox game also appears to have inherited the previous versions' blocky car models, sparse soundtrack, and overall low level of detail. The car models and backgrounds are extremely simple--there are few polygons being pushed at any one time, although to the game's credit, it maintains a steady frame rate at all times. The gameplay has remained faithful to previous versions of the game--there is little to control outside of basic steering and weapon usage, the majority of the decision-making revolving around quick recognition of shortcut and power-up locations throughout each course.

There will be four levels in all, each with a number of sublevel routes, which can be played in the arcade mode or the survival mode. The arcade mode allows continues, while the survival mode ends the game whenever your cab becomes totaled. Two players can also play through any of the unlocked tracks competitively and record their high scores.

We'll bring you a review of Smashing Drive when the game is finally released in stores. In the meantime, feel free to check out our latest screenshots of the game and judge it for yourself.

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