Capcom showed off a build of the upcoming US version of Auto Modellista, its online cel-shaded racer for the PlayStation 2, at its press event yesterday. While the game was released last year in Japan and Europe, it has yet to be released in the US. The extra time has allowed the game's development team to enhance the existing game and implement gameplay tweaks based on user feedback. The game's producer, Yoshihiro Sudo, was on hand to show off the game's features and demo the online component of the game.
As far as enhancements go, the US version of Auto Modellista will feature new cars and tracks not found in the Japanese and European games. The game will offer nine new cars, three new tracks, and a new opening demo. However, the most significant additions to the game are likely to be those made to the actual gameplay. As a result of user feedback, the development team adjusted the physics in the game to address player concerns that focused on the car handling. You'll now be able to powerslide in the game, although each car will differ in its ability to do so. The AI in the game is being modified to offer a greater challenge by reacting dynamically to race conditions.
While the online game is still currently being beta-tested, we had a chance to get an idea of how racing online will work. The online component appears to feature three options: race, club meeting, and database. Choosing race will show you the different courses available and the players currently racing on them. You'll be able to host games with up to eight players and set guidelines for your game. Club meeting will let you interact with other players to iron out game details, while the database tracks your performance. As far as the online experience goes, Auto Modellista moved fairly smoothly. We noticed a slight hitch once, but other than that, there didn't seem to be any signs of lag. In terms of the gameplay, it was difficult to get a feel for how the changes to the game's handling are working out, although our car didn't feel quite as stiff.
Sudo also went through the game's customizable decal feature and showed off three custom decals--Dante from Devil May Cry, characters from Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, and Mega Man--that had been created using the in-game tool. While it isn't possible to upload images to the game, it is possible to share custom decals with friends through a memory-card transfer or the game's online mode.
Auto Modellista is being polished up nicely for its US release. The gameplay and content additions help excuse the game's delay last year and certainly make it one to watch this year. Auto Modellista is currently slated to ship in March of this year for the PlayStation 2. Look for more on the game soon.