E3 2008: Speed Racer Impressions
The futuristic racer is headed to the PS2. Go, Speed Racer, Go!
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In May, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment released Speed Racer for Nintendo's Wii and DS to tie in with the film's theatrical release. In conjunction with the movie's DVD release, a PlayStation 2 version is being developed and is due for release this September. We got in some races on the show floor at E3 2008, and we're here to report on our findings.
Although the game is essentially a port of the Wii version, you can expect some improvements on that release. A new camera angle that lets you look behind your racer has been added, which is helpful. An exclusive racetrack has also added. In the demo that we played, Jack "Cannonball" Taylor, Rosey Blaze, Racer X, Trixie, Snake Oiler, and (of course) Speed Racer were available from the get-go. However, we counted 19 blacked-out models on the character-select list, which adds up to 25 racers total. Each racer is rated for speed, acceleration, handling, and strength.
We tackled one of the championship races, which was a scant sequence of two tracks, and won both on the first try. The game captures the spirit and visual vibrancy of the Speed Racer film, and the tracks wind upward and downward, lending a nice sense of chaos to the race. The controls are simple and intuitive: You accelerate using R2 and brake using R1, whereas L2 boosts your speed and L1 boosts your health. That health boost comes in handy, too, because your opponents will ram into you, whittling down your health. However, the most interesting aspect is the offensive car-fu skills. Using the right analog stick, we flipped our vehicle in every direction, taking down our opponents and occasionally falling victim to a similar attack. At these times, our enemies' character portraits would pop up on the screen to disparage us, which was a nice touch.
There are also single-race and time-trial modes available, along with support for co-op and competitive races between two local players. Speed Racer for the PS2 is due for release on September 6.