Review: Episode I Racer PC

(Buy Racer from Amazon.com )
“Now this is Pod Racing!”

Or at least it should be.

The Pod Race sequence in the film is so perfect for all kinds of merchandising follow-ups that sometimes I almost forget what came first- the movie or the merchandise. When you watch Star Wars Episode I- The Phantom Menace the first time (when was that?), there is a definite adrenalin rush during the Pod Race sequence and you know you want to be in there with the racers. Well, now you can- almost.

The game based on that celebrated work of visual effects is just great in the same places that the scene in the film was. It is exciting, engrossing and very original in its style. How many games let you be Anakin Skywalker (or Teemto Pagalies, or Dud Bolt, or …), race the fastest machines in the galaxy and do it in a totally unique way? You see, racing the podracer just ain’t like dusting crops.

The game is different from your average racing game in some very important ways. First of all, you are not driving a car. The mechanics and dynamics of the pod racer take time to get adjusted to, but when you do, you will feel the power. The skill is not in simple left-right maneouvering of the vehicle; the racer doesn’t respond like your average Porsche. Driving the racer is a cross between driving a supersonic Formula 1 McLaren and maneouvering a sail boat on a windy day. Don’t get frightened just yet- it’s fun.

There are dozens of tracks of increasing difficulty level. You can go to the next only after clearing the previous- clearing means finishing the race ranked fourth or above. The different arenas are visually stunning (frightening at times!) and provide for some great races. Each arena has its own intricacies and danger-zones. Your competitors (the same guys you see in the movie) will try to knock you off the course, but that will only cause you to lose time. You do not have to be Anakin Skywalker; you can be any of the other bozos- and at times it is advisable to NOT be Anakin because other aliens may have pods suited to a particular course.

The game is a LOT of fun. I am not a general racing-game fan; but I loved this one… initially. The races seemed tough at the start, but once you get the hang of the vehicle and its intriciacies, each new level will be just perfect.

The only problem with the game, in my opinion, is that the game does not have a high replay value. You may get bored with the same races and same arenas. Yes the arenas are breathtaking, but can you stare at the Himalayas for ever? You get my point, I hope. And its not just the replay, by the time you get to the more difficult levels, you might not have the patience to try each level the few times it may take you to clear them. The problem, summarized, is monotony.

In all, though, its a great game. If you are a racing buff and a Star Wars fan this is perfect. If you are a Star Wars fan and a general gaming fan, approach with caution- be prepared for short-term pleasures.

DevanJedi’s Rating- 7.5/10

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