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reviews >> playstation 2

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment Santa Monica
Year Released: 2001
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Teen

Visuals 8
Plenty of eye-candy and color, but a bumpy framerate and a lack of sensational speed hurts.
Audio 8.5
Good music and sound effects.
Gameplay 8
Despite how you actually race in this game, it's not a hard game to control. The stunt function could have been a little more refined, and there should have been more game modes available.
Replay Value 7.75
It's a challenge to complete the main championship series, but after that's finished, there's not much more to do than play in the single races.
Reviewer's Impression 8
It's an interesting form of racing, by using a person's body as the vehicle, but it really doesn't do much to radically change the genre.
Overall 8
Kinetica is one of those unusual games that got lost in the shuffle of other big releases, and it's not a bad game to try out when it's in the bargain bins.

Kinetica is an interesting concept for a racing game that deserves a look if you've never had a chance to play the game. Kinetica starts out as a futuristic racer, which we generally know how the premise will turn out. Fast vehicles try to fight for first place while using weapons at their disposal. When you think of futuristic racing games, WipeOut, Extreme G and F-Zero come to mind. While the later never really relied on weapons, all three do share a similar bond. Kinetica, in a way, is no different. You've got a futuristic backdrop and some weapons at your disposal, but instead of using a vehicle, you use your body outfitted with a special kind of suit that has wheels at the arms and legs.

The supposed story behind this game is that the racing done in this game was once illegal and underground. Then, an "E-Fire" occured (no idea what the hell that is) and changed the landscape of the economy. Remaining was the illegal races, so when a city named "Kinetica" was born, this kind of racing was a new sport, and was raced for profit.

The gameplay is rather simple. You race for first place. You can't really knock others out of the race entirely, but you can slow them down with weapons. To help you reach your goal, you can use the boost strips laid out on the stage or absorb them for later use. You can aslo acquire more boost by pulling off stunts that can be done in mid-air or on the course. There is some strategy involved on when to use the boost and when to conserve it, and that part of the technique can help you win races. That is, if you can keep yourself from falling off course (on some stages, anyway). There is a bit of a learning curve to adjust yourself to, since there really hasn't been racing designed such as this before. But really, a couple of races, and I think you'll get the jist of it.

To describe the game's visuals, I'm going to borrow a term I heard of somewhere. The visuals in Kinetica can best be described as "eye-crack". Although the frame rate is not as fluid as it should be, the design of the game is pretty overwhelming. Lot's of color and a lot of architecture fill the screen of this game. Dare I say that it outshines the art style of Rush 2049? The game looks really nice. However, as good as this looks, it will end up being outshined by the upcoming F-Zero GX, which will run at a constant 60 fps. But for a PS2 game, this is pretty good.

The music, while seemingly like standard issue techno, is pretty good as well. I believe the music is licensed and not just done by SCEA. Some tracks are pretty much something you would likely hear in WipeOut, but then there are a couple of "Fifth Element"-like tracks that stand out. The sound effects are pretty much standard, it's nothing mind-blowing, but it get's the job done.

The only real thing that holds this game back is more replay value. There are single races for a couple of quick trips back, but the championship races can be completed quickly (although the third season is pretty tough). If somehow the created an option to take advantage of the game's stunts, like Rush 2049 did, then I think this game would have quite a bit of replayabillity. As it is, it would make an excellent rental, and it wouldn't hurt to pick it up for less than $20. It's a nice addition to the PS2 library that has a little something to differentiate itself from other games in the genre.