Gripshift E3 2005 Hands On

We take the wheel of the PSP's upcoming stunt driving/puzzle racer.

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At the booth for Sony Online Entertainment, we were able to get a look at Gripshift, an upcoming driving game for the PSP. In a nutshell, Gripshift is a lot like Super Monkey Ball, but with cars instead. The game includes 100 different tracks, spread across five difficulty levels and four different settings, including desert, frozen tundra, jungle, and horror themes. Each track is a multitiered affair, floating up high in the sky with various islands, jumps, turns, loops, and other interesting architectural elements. The fact that the track floats up in the sky means you'll need to be careful that you don't fall off the edge.

There's much more to each track than just trying to get from start to finish as quickly as possible, though. Each track includes a number of objectives, such as collecting stars scattered about the roadway (and in midair), and driving creatively around the environment to try to find hidden objects. So even though each objective takes anywhere from just a few seconds to a couple of minutes, the developers hope to get a lot of replay value out of people trying to find creative jumps and paths to shave fractions of a second off their best times.

Four different characters will be included in the game, as well as a good selection of different cars. Each car is unique in its ratings for speed, acceleration, handling, and braking. As you make your way through the game you'll also get access to a special speed boost power-up, which can even be used in midair to help you steer a bit as you make crazy jumps from the track to different islands. If you get tired of racing the AI, Gripshift will include ad hoc networking for up to four players to race against each other. You'll also be able to trade tracks over the network that you've made with the game's included track editor. Minigames, such as bomb pool (think of a giant pool table where your car serves as the cue ball), will round out Gripshift's wide array of content.

Gripshift is currently slated to ship in fall of this year for the PSP. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage on the game as information becomes available.

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