Speed DevilsI sometimes ask myself why we must be continuously subjected to second rate racing titles, while sacrificing other proven genres. The answer is quite clear. All of the junk has to be visible so that we can easily find quality in a racing title. Such is the case with Speed Devils from Ubi Soft.
At first glance, I thought Speed Devils would be another boring racer, released for no good reason other than to add titles to the Dreamcast's library. What a crime it is to enter a game with unfavorable preconceived notions, but how great it is to be proven wrong. Speed Devils is at heart a standard arcade racer with a lot of added extras. The game offers several modes including championship, arcade, and a two player multiplayer mode. As is usually the case, the championship mode is where you will spend most of your time.
You will begin your game as a rookie with no apparent qualities, other than the fact that you've been given a junked up car and a chance to prove yourself to a bald guy (I guess you could refer to him as your booker) who is confident that you will be the driver to beat the mysterious Driver X. What makes Speed Devils more involving than other racers is the garage options. After every race, you go into your garage, where you can do a number of things to your car including repairing your car and adding expensive parts to your weak engine. Everything seems to be an option to you, including a car dealership where you can purchase and sell cars. The races consist of classes, beginning in class D while trying to work your way up to A class.
Aside from the races and options themselves, perhaps the best element of Speed Devils is the ability to gamble with a fellow driver. After races, drivers will randomly challenge you to a race with a substantial cash wager. You earn cash from finishing races and busting police radars. Often times, the bets your opponents make are more personal and you will sometimes be challenged to bust a certain radar on whatever course they choose. You may also end up having a title vs. title race, in which you can win your opponent's car.
The graphics in Speed Devils are exceptional. Each level is highly detailed and realistically similar to its real life namesake. Some of the levels include New York, Louisiana, Hollywood, and Canada. The races are long and extremely difficult. You won't cruise through this game in one, or even two sittings. The difficulty of Speed Devils makes for an entertaining challenge unlike most racing titles. All of the levels will eventually reappear in later classes, offering new and different challenges. For the most part it's just weather differences in most tracks, as well as them being reversed. Weather conditions include heavy fog, snow, and rain. Each of these conditions adds greatly to the overall gameplay experience. Other levels are at night, where you will have only your headlights to guide you to the checkered flag. Oh, and once you smash your car into a few walls your headlights will be gone so be careful out there.
Play control is standard arcade style control, which is perfect for this type of game. All of the vehicles have varying mechanics, just as they should. I myself started with the average clunker, then purchased an Aston Martin looking automobile followed by a truck which I won and a Firebug, which also looks suspiciously like a James Bond car. With all of the add-ons that you can purchase, each vehicle handles differently and you'll be hard pressed to finish this title with just one car. Tires are really more important than any other control aspect. Before each race, you will have the option to change your tires of which there are about eight different sets, each with their own qualities. After all, you wouldn't want to go out into the Aspen winter with slick tires, now would you?
There isn't much to hear in Speed Devils. The music is alright and some of the tunes really pump up the race, but for the most part it's just filler. The sound of your engine and squeaking tires is about all you'll get from the sound effects department. I find this to be a minor flaw by any standards.
As far as the multiplayer games go, they offer an interesting assortment of options for two players. You, and a friend can go at it in modes like head to head (standard race), defend and attack (pass your opponent and successfully keep him twenty meters or more behind you for the duration of the race), distance lag (race until you have overcome your opponent by a pre-determined number of meters), time lag (points match), and special challenge ( compete to finish special challenges in each race. For two players, this game delivers a multitude of options.
I found Speed Devils to be a highly energetic racing experience. The game offers plenty of options to keep you entertained and the challenge is heads and tails above the competition. I must confess that the load times on this CD are quite long considering the hardware. I sometimes thought I was playing a PSX because of the load times. Aside from that, this title kept me entertained for a solid amount of time. If you don't like racing games, you should at least rent this one and give it a try, you won't be disappointed.