TGS 2005: Earlier today, during a visit to Namco's Tokyo Game Show booth, we had an opportunity to check out a demo version of Critical Velocity. Currently scheduled for release in Japan next month, Critical Velocity is a mission-based driving game that--if the nicely rendered cutscenes we saw today are any indication--will feature a strong narrative.
The mission we played today was the first from the game's story mode, and it tasked us with protecting a (stolen?) concept car that was being pursued by the police. This required us to stick as close to the target car as possible and to crash into any police cars that got too close so that they'd get damaged and explode before they had a chance to inflict a similar fate on their target.
The fleeing concept car was able to outrun most of the police cars, but there were plenty of alternate routes through the level, so we had to be on the lookout for additional police cars joining the chase from different directions at all times. We also had to keep an eye out for nitro pickups, because although the game's sensation of speed is disappointing, using nitros made it a lot easier to catch up to the target car anytime we fell behind as a result of a crash or a battle with a cop car.
Crash opportunities were quite plentiful in the level, which boasted plenty of sharp corners, some slow-moving traffic, and a busy railroad crossing. Despite some lackluster car handling, the gameplay was pretty satisfying, so it's disappointing that the visuals haven't improved since we saw the game at last year's Tokyo Game Show. We'll bring you more information on Critical Velocity as soon as it becomes available.