What first started out as NASCAR Rumble is now Rumble Racing, Electronic Arts' attempt to create its first arcade-style combat racing game. Focused on track-based racing with a good dash of vehicular combat, Rumble Racing looks like it could combine the furious fighting of the Twisted Metal series with the speed and track design of Midway's Rush series.
Rumble Racing lets you choose from a number of modes, including single race, championship, stunt challenge, and showdown. The single-race mode lets you choose one of the game's 15 racetracks. Unfortunately, only three tracks are available at the start of the single-race mode--the other 12 are unlocked by playing through the championship mode. The championship mode lets you race in a series of heats to attain one of five different championship cups. You'll be able to race solo or cooperatively with a friend in the championship mode. If you play cooperatively, you and your friend are put on one team, and each player scores a certain number of points for the team total depending on his or her final position. Once you've completed the championship mode, you'll unlock the stunt cup--which lets you race in a purely stunt-mode setting. In the stunt cup, you're put on any of the three stunt tracks and given a time limit. Your task is to complete as many outrageous stunts as possible before the timer expires. In the showdown mode, you can compete against any car of your choice in a one-lap battle.
The gameplay is extremely straightforward. Rumble Racing focuses on speed and destroying other cars. The game gives you several weapons and items to help you dispose of the other cars. Weapons range from bad gas, which will make your opponent's engine smoke and stutter, to bombs, stone piles, and hurricanes. ] The hurricane is particularly impressive when seen in motion--activating this weapon darkens the sky completely and unleashes a massive twister that sucks up all the cars and spews them out as it travels the course. The graphical effect is simply stunning. Pulling off stunts and tricks in the middle of the race rewards you with nitro boosts. More complex stunts will yield better and more powerful boosts, which are crucial during the race. The game also features plenty of shortcuts--you can blast through windows, bushes, caves, and other cover to reveal secret paths.
The controls are extremely easy to pick up. The physics are fairly accurate, but some liberties have been taken to help give the game more of an arcade feel. The crashing animations look spectacular, and some of the vehicle animations are a treat to look at. The tracks are all very well designed, and they feature such locations as the Wild West, a mountainous track, and a sunny beach.
The game features a commentary system, which is something completely new to racing games. The comments are creative and funny, and the game has plenty of one-liners to ensure that things never get repetitive. The sound effects are very clean and clear, and the game features a rocking soundtrack of original music.
Rumble Racing is an addictive racer with plenty of speed and gun-blazing action. With the new two-player championship mode, excellent graphics, and neck-whipping speed, Rumble Racing looks like it could be a fan favorite.