Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2 takes the formula that worked somewhat well for it in the original game and expands it. There are more cars to choose from (more than 100, though initially only about 16 are available), miles of digitized expressway, several modes of play, and a replay value that is through the roof.
The basis of the game is similar to a fighting game. You choose your car and cruise around the expressways until you find a rival, a car marked in blue on your map. You then flash your headlights at it, and the rival will choose to either accept or reject your challenge, depending on your current status. If the race is a go, the CPU briefly takes over and shows a cutscene of the two cars jockeying for position, and then you're back in control. Both you and your CPU competitor (this is a one-player-only game) then tear off down the freeway, avoiding traffic, taking off-ramps, and generally burning rubber. The idea is to outdistance your opponent. The car that is losing the race gradually has its life meter (measured in speed points) diminished. So, the further ahead the lead car gets, the faster the losing car's life bar decreases. The race is over when one car's meter is empty, or when either your car or the CPU's car throws the race by taking an offramp, which would result in a draw. Collisions can cost you speed points (the greater the impact, the greater the loss), so it's entirely possible to be winning the race, literally by miles, only to crash into something and lose the whole thing. This aspect of the game makes it unique, as there are no set start or finish lines. With that in mind, it's also possible for you to tail a rival car endlessly until it enters a section of road that your car is good at - say, a straightaway - and then start the race by flashing your lights. Scheming gamers will find that most cars can be defeated somewhat easily, even the boss cars.
The visuals are very impressive, though the game does suffer a drop in frame rate when several cars are on the screen at once. For some reason, flashing your headlights only illuminates the other cars on the road, and not the roadway itself. Considering that the entire game is set in a night environment, you'd think that having the roadway light up would have been an obvious additional feature. The game has fine sound effects and an appropriate techno audio track, but there's nothing here that makes it stand out from other racing games. The control of the cars is bang on, and each setting - from shocks to brakes to transmission - can be tweaked to perfection.
The money that you earn from defeating the other cars on the expressway will generally go into improving the car that you already have, because some of the later, more powerful class-A cars are only available for exorbitant amounts of money. Crave intended for this game to have significant replay value, and it succeeded - you'll have to race repeatedly to get enough cash to modify your car so that it can become a contender before you even think about buying a second vehicle. This was more of a problem in the Japanese version of the game, but thankfully, it was addressed before the game's final release here. As far as actual racing goes, the game gives you a fair chance against each competitor, provided you don't hit the guardrail. If you do hit the guardrail, you'll suffer a tremendous loss of speed, and your rival will vanish ahead of you into the night. Against harder opponents, hitting the wall once is enough to cost you the race.
Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2 is a decent game, but it's all been done before. You unlock extra cars and extra miles of highway as you progress, and your ultimate goal is to reduce your car's weight while increasing horsepower. A completely modified Acura NSX (referred to as an NA1 in the game, due to licensing problems) easily clears 250mph, and it feels like it. Unfortunately, the sheer price of that car and all the modifications necessary for this sense of speed will prevent most racing fans from ever experiencing it - to earn the amount of money needed will take hours of gameplay, and only the most hard-core racing fans will be interested.
There are more than 300 rivals to race against, and you'll be hard pressed to find them all (some only appear when you own more than 50 cars), so if you're looking for a game that you can easily defeat, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you've got tons of free time to devote to racing, purchasing, and modifying scores of cars, this might be what you're looking for.