Cross Racing Championship 2005 Review
|Release Date:||September 2005|
|Reviewer:||Shane Lacey (Stan)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
I hadn't seen or heard an awful lot about Cross Racing Championship 2005 when I was given the chance to review it, so I wasn't brimming with excitement while installing I have to say. In all honesty the rally genre has never appealed to me at all, Colin McRae rally is one that springs to mind and I despised that game with a passion. But on the other hand I'm totally in love with the more fun car racing games out there, like Need for Speed and some of the various Formula 1 games that have popped up over the years. I have to admit that I did suspect that this was just another bloody racing game.
I was worried when I installed CRC2005, with it being a modern game I thought I'd have to play it on low level settings to avoid any slow down or stuttering in game. But to my joy that wasn't the case, I was able to run it on full detail without any slowdown or jerkyness at all, my 6600GT coped brilliantly for the most part.
The graphics are in fact very nice and smooth, at times some of the scenery is stunning. If you have the PC to support HDR lighting I'd suggest you enable it, sadly this is where my 6600GT drew the line. I did manage to view some screenshots with HDR enabled and it is capable of producing some almost photo realistic imagery, it truly looks gorgeous.
The vehicles you get to drive look spot on. Trees, foliage, various barns and quaint little villages are all in 3D but every now and again you do spot the occasional flat two dimensional image which did look out of place. There are a lot of other positives though, so it is pretty easy to over look the odd 2d image.
The world you race in is very detailed and crisp, it was a refreshing change actually to be sliding about a map at break neck speeds and admiring the views. Your HUD view is great as well, you get your obvious track map and a rear view option with many other camera options available to you via hot keys, lap timer and speedo are also positioned well as is your rev counter. The particle effects I also found nice, just about right and not over done, you could be belting it down a dusty old road and you didn't get too much dust. Another thing that seems to be the norm in racing games these days is motion blur, it's not my favorite feature and it got to the point I started to find it annoying, only a small gripe really, an otherwise lovely looking game.
Sound in a car racing game has never really blown me away, and CRC 2005 is no different, a car that belts down the road with 300 plus horse power should have a really satisfying roar, unfortunately it doesn't in this case. It's verging on tinny at times, a shame really as the sound is the only thing that lets this game down to any great extent. All in all, sound effects are barely adequate.
It gets no better when it comes to the commentary either, I got fed up after about 5 minutes of being referred to as "player", all the attempted wise cracks just seemed poor too, groans abound, at least that is until you turn the commentary off, and that won't take long.
On the plus side though, you get the opportunity to import your mp3's and can create your own soundtrack which I thought was great stuff, definitely saved me the hassle of having to play this game muted.
The gameplay in CRC is what turns what could have been an average game into a very good one, it's just so easy to pick up and play, a case of install it, bind your keys and bobs your uncle so to speak. On the other hand if you want to play it as a realistic sim racing game you can as well, as is obvious the game supports steering wheels and as is to be expected you get plenty of option to set your sensitivity etc. However if your'e like me, you will everything on auto with steering, clutch and braking assistance turned on, I'm no hardcore driving game fan as you can tell, fortunately CRC 2005 isn't all about being hardcore.
As soon as you have figured out how the cars weight shifts when you hit a bend is when you start to appreciate how much fun CRC 2005 can be, banking round corners isn't a chore as it can be in other rally games. Giving your opponent a nudge in a bend so they spin out of control blocking the track or course in the process did leave me with a smug look on my face more than once.
In CRC 2005, you get your obligatory career mode, quick race, time trials and free ride mode and also something called hot seat mode. I spent most of my time in championship mode, to say its addictive is an understatement. You start off as a novice stock car driver and obviously have to build your way up through the ranks. You do get the chance to customize your character and the vehicles you drive, style is obviously important in this game.
As I stated earlier, I hate rally games with a passion, I always end up fish tailing everywhere which almost always leaves my car mangled in a ditch somewhere in the middle of Wales. Not so with CRC, you DO get the rally element of an accurate driving game if you really want it but also the fun of an arcade racer, give me the option of having to ram my way to the front over technical ability any day, this is a video game after all and not just a simulation, great stuff.
CRC isn't all about rally racing though, there's stock car races and lot's of track racing too, with a number of different types of car to play with, diversity is definitely a strength here. My personal favorite are the buggy races, these are perhaps the most difficult vehicles to drive in the game, but they still never got annoying.
I have a feeling that a console version of this game would do rather well, a few cans of beer and a few friends would definitely mix well with this title. This was the most fun I have had with a driving game for many a year.
Cross Racing Championship 2005 just oozes playability, I'm sure if you really wanted to you could play it with a wheel and pedals that you'd be very happy with it's accurate driving dynamics and all that jazz, but that's not my style or the focus of this review. As is absolutely obvious, I prefer arcade racers, and this is a great one if you choose to play it that way. Thumbs up, there's something for all racing fans here.
- Looks lovely
- Easy to pick up and play
- Great fun
- Import your mp3 collection
Not so good stuff
- Poor sound effects
- Annoying commentary
- The occasional 2 dimensional piece of scenery
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