Glimmerati Impressions

We get the lowdown on the N-Gage's glitzy new racer, straight from the developer's mouth.

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Glimmerati has been one of the N-Gage's most tightly guarded secrets since it was announced at E3 2004. Puzzled journalists who attended Nokia's press event were treated to a montage of shapely, shadow-veiled dancers, capped off with the silvery automotive Glimmerati logo--and that was it. It took another five months for Nokia to confirm that Glimmerati would indeed be a racing game, and that the game would be somehow predicated on the image-obsessed lifestyles of the absurdly wealthy. In a recent teleconference with Bugbear Entertainment, Glimmerati's Finland-based developer, we were finally able to get a glimpse at the rest of the picture. The sketch that the developer drew for us outlined a top-down racing game that's sure to pique the interest of every N-Gage owner.

Just think about it...outrageously expensive vehicles without the commensurate insurance costs!
Just think about it...outrageously expensive vehicles without the commensurate insurance costs!

In Glimmerati, you play as a newly minted aristocrat trying to make a splash in the money-saturated world of movie moguls, shipping magnates, and trust-fund babies. How best to do this? Well, you could always build your own spaceship or something...but that's not as fun as joining Club Glimmerati, the world's most exclusive driving organization, and racing your way to the top of the heap. Along the way, you'll get to experience all the same sorts of wild things rich socialites do in real life, from dodging paparazzi and tabloid reporters to collecting the undergarments of beautiful women (yes, seriously).

Glimmerati's story mode will be split into four chapters, detailing your rise through the patrician ranks of Club Glitterati. At first, you're just trying to get onto the social radar of the club's current president, Maxwell McCain, an industrialist who will supposedly sound a lot like Sean Connery (the game's seven main characters will all have digitized voices). Subsequently, you'll race through chapters detailing altercations with the media, your relationships with several gorgeous young women, and finally a challenge for the whole enchilada: the presidency of the club. There will be about 50 unique missions over the course of the game, which can range from simple races against fellow snooty rich folk to trying to get models to a photo shoot on time.

Unsurprisingly, the action takes place entirely in Europe. The racing venues include Paris, Milan, the Alps, and Monaco. And if you're really good, you might make it to a secret Mediterranean island for the club championship. The game will feature 12 unlockable vehicles, including a speedboat for racing in Monaco's harbor and an experimental rocket car. To unlock new missions, you'll have to socialize and name-drop in the clubhouse and accumulate fame through newspaper headlines, magazine covers, and the like.

Being wealthy isn't all fun and games. Occasionally, you have to win a race.
Being wealthy isn't all fun and games. Occasionally, you have to win a race.

Bugbear Entertainment specializes in driving games, and although it has already developed several European releases for other consoles, Glimmerati will be its first mobile effort. There weren't many details about the driving gameplay itself, but Bugbear did elaborate a bit on the game's multiplayer and connected features. In addition to the story mode, quick races, and time trials, Glimmerati will include four-player races over Bluetooth. Another intriguing feature is the "club card," which sounds like it'll be the equivalent of a virtual Glimmerati scrapbook. As you play through story mode, your headlines, prizes, and other special achievements will be gathered on your club card, which can then be uploaded to N-Gage Arena. There's no shadow racing or the like to be had, but you'll be able to compare club cards with drivers the world over to see who's more accomplished. All this sounds very appropriate, given that the game will be built around status-seeking.

Nokia ought to have a playable demo of Glimmerati at E3, and it is planning for a July release. The little we now know about the game has us looking forward to racing rocket cars, flirting with models, and just generally seeing how good we are at being rich and famous. Keep your browser glued here for more details.

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