Sprint Cars 2: Showdown at Eldora Review (PS2)
The Playstation 2 is beginning to show it's age these days but yet it still is competitive with its big brother and the 360 in terms of sales numbers. With the console selling quite well, some publishers are still taking advantage of the consoles still huge user-base.
Sprint Cars 2: Showdown at Eldora from THQ is one such example of developers taking the time to still publish games for the old PS2. At it's price tag of $20 and with a large variety of different tracks, cars and events, it's hard not to recommend Sprint Cars 2 to fans of the sport of sprint car racing or even fans of racers who still just have a PS2.
It really isn't a great game by any means compared to the competition, but it does hold its own and offers a look at a fresh sport that really isn't covered all that well with existing racing titles.
The game features 27 racetracks (18 on, 9 are unlockable) as well as 10 different types of dirt track vehicles to choose from, which offers just a huge amount of gameplay experiences to enjoy. When you add in a variety of gameplay modes which includes the tractor pull, a staple for the dirt tracks, you end up with several hours of entertainment to be had.
The gameplay can be summed up as good but not overwhelmingly so, it is definitely passable though. The control is solid and you really feel in control of the vehicle but it still feels like you are driving on dirt, which is a must for a title of this type. As far as the control scheme, I don't think anyone will have much issue with picking up and playing the game. It's not overly complicated by any stretch.
My favorite part of Sprint Cars 2 is taking the corners at breakneck speed trying to maintain control. That's really where the beauty in this game comes out. You have to break and gas to maintain control around the corners. With the different track types such as short tracks, banked tracks and long tracks, you will constantly have a new challenge.
The AI seems to be decently intelligent as well. Considering the fact this is still a title for the Playstation 2, you can't apply next-gen expectations here. There are quirks and flaws that really I would expect with a title on the platform with such a low budget development cycle.
For the most part the AI seems to keep to a set line on the track and isn't very dynamic in that sense. Still, the game presents enough of a challenge to keep you busy for a bit. One thing that always irked me about the game in general is that I played the same race 3 times and got very similar times each race out of my opponents, it was fairly consistent in that regard. Each difficulty level is varied enough that everyone should have a challenge between the Rookie, Veteran or Pro levels.
The game offers a number of modes with which to play as well as differing goals for each mode. The arcade mode lets you race in a single race, a championship series of 15 races, head to head competition, challenges, the tractor pull, do time trials, practice and go through tutorials. You also can do a career which spans several seasons and allows you to do a number of different events while building up your sprint car empire.
You start with $5,000 which allows you to buy a 3/4 midget or a Pro Stock model and then you hire a driver. During the course of your career you can buy, sell or upgrade your car as well as seek out sponsorships to help pay the bills. As things advance forward, your car will begin to break down and you will have to repair the vehicle. The system is simple but it works and rewards you for driving more careful.
Another thing that junkies will appreciate is the tuning menu that allows you to set your stagger, spacing, travel, shocks, spring, gears, weight, tire pressure, and your wings. This allows for a ton of control and makes trying to get just the right settings that much more challenging.
Perhaps the biggest thing about this title to me is that with the varied amounts of tracks and such, it takes a bit to master each one. The challenge with this game is getting each track just right and winning the races obviously. The large amount of tracks and such helps keep the game fresh while you challenge the decent but linear AI.
Either way, the game will be fun for awhile and you will find some enjoyment out of it, but by the end of the first week or two, if you aren't a fan of the sport you will grow tired of the game most likely.
Graphically the game is once again good but just not excellent. Really that's how you can sum up the entire game. The challenge mode and career mode are both good solid modes and I really enjoyed the tractor pull as well.
In the end, I really think this game is destined to be lost in the shuffle of time sadly. This is not a bad game but rather a game overshadowed by much better games in its genre. If you are fan of the sport pick it up, otherwise I would recommend saving the $20 for something else.
On the Track: Good action, decent AI, and fun for at least awhile. The game's realism isn't too bad either, and with car tuning and a multiple amount of modes you will be busy with this one.
Graphics: It is an average to slightly above average looking late-model PS2 game with a solid frame-rate.
Sound: The game sounds authentic. Having gone to a few sprint car races, the game sounds pretty close to what you would hear on the real tracks. Really, this is one of the title's best aspects.
Entertainment Value: You will play this game for at least a couple of weeks if you like racers and then if you are a sprint car fan you will probably log several weeks into the game and might find yourself in heaven. I had a blast playing against others in head to head action as well.
Learning Curve: Not bad at all, I would say it will take you about an hour or so before getting the basic feel of the game. It'll take even longer to completely master the game.