It certainly stands to reason that a racing game built around one of the most timeless domestic racing machines would be a great idea. Watch a Corvette roll down a busy street, and you'll see a lot of heads turn to follow it. The tight handling, powerful engine, and delicate precision in its design are all hallmarks of its long racing lineage. However, Corvette, the new Xbox racing title from TDK Interactive and Steel Monkeys, falls flat in just about every way a Corvette or racing fan enthusiast could hope it would succeed.
Corvette features a number of modes for you to play in, ranging from career mode to arcade mode, with multiplayer, quick race, and special event races mixed in. In career mode, you compete in a number of races in a linear fashion, starting with the first generation of Corvette and eventually ending in the last. Most of these races are held as wheel-to-wheel competitions of speed with five other hopefuls on a closed track. However, the last race for each generation is a one-on-one race held on the open road, along with regular road traffic and police enforcement. As you progress, you'll receive minor upgrades for your car, but for the most part, these don't make your car particularly distinguishable from its stock form. In the arcade mode, you'll go through the same progression of track and road races, this time being rewarded with cars and tracks that are unlocked for use in the game's quick race mode. The special events mode will allow you to compete in time trials, or endurance races, which are just longer versions of the races you already competed in.
Repetitive gameplay aside, what holds Corvette back the farthest from its goals is its control. With every car there is a noticeable lag between when you input a steering command in the controller and when the actual steering takes place in the car. This lag is enough to make accurate handling a problem in the Generation 5 Corvettes and gets progressively worse the older the car is. Controlling the traction of the car, even on regular pavement, is a very delicate balancing act: Either you have it or you don't, and there is very little leeway between having a planted feeling on the ground and spinning wildly out of control. Collisions with both fixed objects and other cars are frustrating, and colliding with other cars happens frequently, since the computer-controlled cars pay little regard to your being in their chosen path. To top it off, the game has a poorly conceived sense of speed, making it very difficult to judge just how much to slow down for an upcoming corner.
The game's graphics are probably its best feature, though in general they lack polish. The car models, however, are represented in great detail and are rendered with a silky sheen, especially in two- and three-tone paint schemes. The track environments are modest at their best and blocky and rough looking at their worst. Drab, low-resolution textures, some boxy animated vehicles on the sidelines, and a peppering of repetitive signage round out the visual package. Exhaust notes, collision impacts, and tire squeals make up most of the game's sound effects, which, along with a forgettable soundtrack, make up an altogether uninspired audio presentation.
While Corvette does feature head-to-head competition on Xbox Live, you'll be hard pressed to actually find a game online to compete in. The game also crashed on us from time to time. There are seemingly a lot of options in the game, but since it all comes down to racing your Corvette against other Corvettes, the action is pretty repetitive. All in all, Corvette is an unrewarding, simplistic racer with too many problems, and it's difficult to recommend it to even the most devout Corvette enthusiasts.