Jet Set Radio Future Review
It's an unusual game that offers a serious challenge, as well as gorgeous graphics, a strong soundtrack, plenty of style, and a good replay value.
There's a lot to learn about how to play Jet Set Radio Future, and you'll gradually become acquainted with the finer points of the game's controls as you progress. You'll learn new moves when you encounter characters, who will challenge you to pull them off. A character is always available to teach you about the various gameplay elements. The game's difficulty and learning curve ramps up gradually at first, though later parts of the game can be very challenging.
The tweaks to the controls in Jet Set Radio Future make it play quite differently from its predecessor. This time around, the emphasis is on fast tagging, speedy skating, and performing impressive tricks. To accommodate that, you're no longer constrained by time in any of the levels, which lets you go through and explore them at your leisure rather than trying to beat the clock. In terms of the game's actual structure, Jet Set Radio Future is less linear than the previous game is overall, but it unfolds in a slightly more conventional fashion, like a platformer. The single-player game is broken up into eight chapters that offer a few variations to the gameplay. In addition to tagging, you'll be exploring levels to acquire "graffiti souls," golden tapes, and new playable characters. You'll also engage in boss battles against other characters, which range from traditional tagging fights to minigame competitions. You'll also be on the prowl for entrances to new levels in the game.
You'll notice that the roster of playable characters has shot through the roof in Jet Set Radio Future. You'll find 12 playable characters in the game, each with different performance attributes. You'll be able to switch between them on the fly at save points throughout the game. This actually ends up adding a strategic element, as certain characters will be best suited for specific activities in the game, and it'll be up to you to decide when to switch. While the game's story unfolds in a linear fashion, the decision to move the story forward or hang back in a level and try to complete all the challenges is largely up to you. Outside of the main single-player game, you'll find a multiplayer mode, supporting up to four players via split-screen. You'll have your choice of five customizable minigames. The multiplayer mode may sound like a good idea, and it can make for a good diversion, but it comes across as much less interesting compared with the rest of the game.
Visually, Jet Set Radio Future stands as one of the Xbox's best-looking games yet, and that's saying a lot. The game's cel-shaded graphics and distinct art style are incredibly beautiful--a definite improvement upon those of the Dreamcast predecessor, which also looked spectacular for its time. The characters are all impressively detailed--as you'd expect, the character roster practically overflows with quirky style. The various skaters also sport smooth animation, which is noticeable when they idle and break into unique dance steps to pass the time. You'll also see speed lines and motion blur around your skater as you tear through the streets, which makes the game seem even more dynamic. Yet your boost dash will show off the flashiest pyrotechnics of all, as your skates literally burst into flame as you shoot forward at incredible speed. You'll find 14 different locations that run the gamut from good-looking to flat-out amazing, showcasing the Xbox's power and Smilebit's excellent visual design. Each level is massive and, more often than not, teeming with activity. You'll see traffic as well as hordes of people in the streets, all of which react to your presence. In addition, little details--such as flocks of birds on the ground that scatter as you skate through them, billowing smoke, and flashing neon and fountains of water--are also on tap to give each level a very strong sense of life. Yet, for all the eye candy and fast-paced gameplay, the game's frame rate generally stays very smooth as 60 frames per second.