Creat Studios along with 1C Company bring RC car racing enjoyment to the PC without the hassle of dead batteries. RC Cars is an arcade-style racing game that has players racing cars that are realistically designed in both appearance and in control. Each of these RC has its own unique characteristics, but more importantly, all behave according to their real world physics. A large car driving by, an angry pedestrian, or a curb could all ruin your chances for victory. Players can compete on up to ten different tracks in single-player mode against AI opponents, or against friends in various multiplayer modes.
There aren't that many games that I feel comfortable playing with my son. At age 4, sitting down to a good session of Grand Theft Auto or C&C Generals just isn't in the cards. It came as a surprise to me that RC Cars is one of the games that even kids can play - don't let the bikini-clad cover model fool you.
The number of drivable cars is low, the tracks are a little too long for quick races, the AI can be punishing, the physics can go wonky, and the in-course checkpoints are too spread out making even minor missteps a frustrating experience - even with all that acting against it, RC Cars still manages to be fun (particularly if you're too young to really care about winning or get easily frustrated).
Picking up a gamepad and just playing RC Cars is easy. The controls are your basic accelerate, brake, hand brake, jump and boost. While mastering them ensures your dominance, it's not required to enjoy the springy suspension and "realistic" handling.
I only put "realistic" in quotes because the cars behave like you'd expect them too, with lots of spin-outs and really bad landings. It's not a facetious description - it simply means the cars don't splinter like balsa wood being hit with a hammer it you ram into something or get shot.
Shot, you say? Each course feels alive to some extent. When you race along the beach you'll encounter crabs, waves, and beach goers. When zipping through the military themed course you have to contend with a trigger-happy foot soldier holding a machine gun. The addition of these obstacles force you to contend with more than just the AI or your human opponent, and actually adds a little strategy (as you peel your opponent off a wall or an on-coming car).
Driving modes include Championship, Quick Race, Ghost Race (racing your previous tries), and Multiplayer, which don't stray from the standard modes of the genre. (And the online multiplayer mode is a good addition, but I've been hard-pressed to find someone to race against.) A little variation would have been welcome, but as it is, there's enough to keep you racing for a while. The Championship mode gets some points for instigating a Buy-In for each race. The better you do in each race, the more prize money you can win, upgrades you can install, open new tracks, etc. But with only three different mini-cars to modify, it won't take a lot of time to max out all the vehicles.
However, you'll probably experience your fair share of frustration, too. If you run off the track into the water, etc. your car is sent back to the last checkpoint, which is most often way back from where you screwed up. Flip onto your roof and your car can magically be righted, but make a splash and pay for it - especially if you're in a tight race.
On the presentation side, RC Cars looks great and the sound effects are good. Although there have been reported technical problems with RC Cars, I don't have any to report - it's just a zippy little racer with plenty of things to look at and appreciate. The soundtrack's not so rip-roaring in comparison and with no custom soundtrack option you'll most likely turn it off.
In the end, RC Cars is a solid entry in the racing genre. Even with it's limited numbers of racing modes and small number of courses and cars, RC Cars remains a pick-up and play title for younger gamers or those that like a little fantasy with their racing.
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