Despite its association with one of the PlayStation's most unplayable and difficult games, RC Revenge (known in some circles as Re-Volt 2) is an amusing, entertaining product of unquestionable quality. Mixing the off-kilter theme of the previous title (sentient radio-controlled cars on a racing rampage) with some nicely functional kart-racer mechanics, RC Revenge is intensely playable and highly polished - a far cry from its predecessor.
While RC Revenge scores points on many fronts, it should be noted that a rather sizable difficulty level - though not nearly as intense as Re-Volt's, mind you - is present in the game. This time around, though, the difficulty is more apt to provide a feeling of satisfaction, once proficiency sets in, as opposed to the white-hot rage induced by Re-Volt's heartless physics and seemingly psychically gifted AI racers. Your opponents are still on the smart side, and the track designs provide for many frustrating forks in the road that often lead to dead ends, but you always have the feeling that you're still in the race, despite how ugly things may look. Indeed, much of RC Revenge's gameplay and charm is composed of the tight, frenetic "cluster racing" that occurs when the entire lineup is clumped together on the track, maniacally bumping into each other, firing away their payloads, and, generally, changing places like chips at a poker table. Playing RC Revenge is accepting that your first-place position, which you've maintained for two-thirds of the race, can be pre-empted, finish line in sight, by the slightest missile graze. Frustrating at times, yes, but ultimately satisfying when six places are jumped due to you being on the giving end of the crosshairs.
It needn't be reiterated that RC Revenge is markedly more arcadelike and kart-racerish than its predecessor. All the trappings are present, from the whacked-out weapons and track designs, to the simple control scheme, heavy on the hand-braking. Weapons range from your cut-and-dried fare (such as missiles and mines) to the truly outlandish (such as signal disrupters which can stop an radio-controlled stampede in its tracks and attack bubbles that encase those unfortunate enough to be caught for moments at a time). As per convention, weapons are scattered at key points throughout the tracks, encased by question-marked boxes.
RC Revenge's tracks are set up to resemble the elements of a theme park, with each track's design and embellishments corresponding to distinct attractions. For example, some races take place on futuristic, Space Mountain-esque tracks, while others happen on haunted-house tracks, jungle-adventure tracks, and such. The tracks are pleasing to the eye and extremely fun to race on; many are blessed with multiple paths, which add to the game's off-kilter feel, and there are a multitude of animated elements within each race that really bring the designs to life. There are also a handful of water tracks, on which your cars become boats (a distinction that is purely visual, save for the missing hand brakes).
The game's control scheme is right on, including gas, reverse, hand-brake, rear-view, and realignment buttons. The hand brake initiates powerslides of a decent caliber, which, once gotten the hang of, allow you to take the fiercest turns in a most brazen manner. The realignment feature allows you to, for the sacrifice of a few seconds, magically reappear in the flow of the race, which is very useful, for instance, after getting nailed by a particularly nasty volley of missiles or when you find yourself upside down.
The game's physics are highly amusing and provide a very tipsy, bumpy, and whirly game experience. Heavier cars are slower, though they tend to be more grounded and thus have more reliable centers of gravity. Smaller, zippier models are more speedy and maneuverable, but tend to crash and topple more easily. Each car has its own speed, acceleration, and handling stats, which all tangibly fall victim to the game's physics in one way or another - it's almost as if the game's mechanics are the ones toying with the players, cars, and tracks, instead of vice versa. Fortunately, the games it plays are fun for all involved, so you won't complain, either way.
The game also features a track editor that's sharp and rather easy to use, and it allows for some truly interesting concoctions. Couple the editor's ability to randomly generate tracks with the multiplayer mode, and those so inclined could, quite possibly, derive quite a bit of replay value from RC Revenge.
Those burned by the PlayStation's version of Re-Volt had best not let their grudges keep them away from RC Revenge - Acclaim Studios Cheltenham has produced a polished, high-quality racer that makes impressive use of the PS's aging hardware set. Those amused by kart racers (and few aren't) would do themselves a favor by checking it out.