Driving just became more fun with EA's Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. Yet what almost turns out to be a joyous racing experience, the less creative imagination coupled with noticeable flaws leave this game in the dust behind even their own previously released Need for Speed titles!
The worst part can be easily attributed to the concept of the game. Although a nifty and probably necessary element in the Need for Speed lineup, relying on a boatload of Porsche cars to use rather than improving upon the game engine or premise doesn't exactly convince anybody that there is something significantly special here. This type of game has been done before, so the Porsche element is just another gimmick. Not even the graphics will garner any real attention.
On that note, there are some impressive effects such as smoke and sparks. The lens flare, motion blur and metallic shine are great, as well as the lighting, animation and the racer inside the car! The physics, damage and car structures are close to the actual thing, and the ability to customize some things is a definite plus. However, there are missing items such as weather effects, long-lasting skid marks and environmental or background object animation. It may look good but it's far from special. Though viewing of the interior of each car is a unique feature, it looks much worse than the outside -- however, the outside doesn't have the greatest textures anyway.
What really does it in is the load time. Even on a Pentium II-400 with 128 megabytes it still takes more than several seconds to load between screens, particularly before the actual race. With this frustrating aspect, gamers will probably be less motivated to play the game more than a few times. However, when they do play, they'll witness some high-speed frame rates. The game sounds pretty average compared to others like it. The engine sounds don't even shift dramatically from each camera angle. In fact, inside the driver's seat it doesn't sound loud enough -- so much for realism.
Without a wheel, you'll be hard pressed to continue playing the game another round. The controls are too sensitive and the car keeps spinning around. But a nice feature allows you to climb the sides of the wall or go over the rails a little. Yet in the end, it's the gameplay that matters. Even the concept of NFS: Hot Pursuit is a better idea. Either way, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed is not a great game but it's got some hope going for it.
Graphics: With various effects, high-resolution and silky smooth frame rates, the Need for Speed series has just gotten faster. If only it had more oomph like airplanes flying above, whistling trees and varying weather...
Sound: The game sounds just like any other previous one except it lacks definition in engine sound and other ambience.
Enjoyment: There's not much more you can do with this kind of category of racing. Add some decent network gameplay and a historical viewpoint and that's what you get with Porsche Unleashed, but not much else. Plus, some of the controls are somewhat awkward to get a handle on.
Replay Value: The tracks are long winding and there should have been more traffic. No other features will keep you from being bored here. And with long load times, why even bother?
People who downloaded Need for Speed 5: Porsche Unleashed have also downloaded:
Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit, Need For Speed 2 Special Edition, Need for Speed: High Stakes, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, Need for Speed Underground 2, Need for Speed: Underground, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Need for Speed: Carbon
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