Feel the rumble of a muscle car tearing down the LA streets in Ford Bold Moves Street Racing. Taking place on 24 tracks such as "Canyon Road," "Central Plaza," "Chinatown," "Downtown," "Skid Row," the "Pacific Highway," and "Venice Beach," the game is designed to look and feel just like the real thing.
With a unique team feature, players can race within a team of three, change which car they are driving during the race, and issue commands to gain tactical and positional advantages. Three groups of 18 officially licensed Ford vehicles include Classics, Performance, and High Performance cars such as the 1968 Mustang GT, 1970 Capri MK1 RS2600, 1975 Torino Sport, 2000 Ford SVT Cobra R, 2005 Mustang GT, 1985 RS200, 1995 GT90 Concept, and the 2007 Shelby GT500.
Players will race through competitions and leagues to win cash used for upgrading current vehicles, or buying a higher performance hot rod, that will make necks break, and gearheads go giddy.
If you have ever been acquainted with any of the Ford Racing games, you'll know that the word, "fun" is not usually connected with this franchise. In spite of having the rather dubious distinction of being a racing series that should be avoided, Ford is trying once again with the next game in their series, named Ford Bold Moves Street Racing. In the course of playing BMSR, it turned out to be a decent - and even fun - game after all.
BMSR is not a racing game in the traditional sense of the genre. What is different about this game is the team racing concept. You no longer are looking out for your own interests in placing first in the competitions. The whole idea of the team concept is to use each car in your team to either help advance another car, or to help block the competition. The final results are based upon how many of your team members make it to the top positions after the race finishes. While this may not sound like anything too exciting, after you understand the concepts and mechanics of how BMSR works, you'll find it surprisingly addicting as you try to outwit and out maneuver your opponents.
There are two gimmicks which allow you to move your cars up through the pack: blocking other cars or using the draft feature. During any team race, you have the ability to switch control from car to car. You may switch to the car that is in front of you, or behind you. When the switch occurs, a nice special effect freezes the action for a moment as you warp to the other car. At this point, you have total control of the other vehicle and see everything from this car's perspective. In addition, you can also have your other team members block other cars for you, or utilize the draft feature to slingshot your way to a higher speed. The draft mode concept is great, as it allows two cars to do a double acceleration in which both cars can move quickly ahead by drafting off of each other.
Ordering your teammates to block a car is very satisfying if done successfully. Essentially, the car that is doing the blocking slams on the breaks and causes the vehicle behind to crash or lose control. A very satisfying collision sound is heard when you do this correctly. This strategy can whittle down the other team as you move past each successive blocked car.
The game is set in the city of Los Angeles, and some old-school racing fans will recognize one of the courses as appearing in the very first Ridge Racer game. More courses are available to you as you win races. In order to advance to other levels, you must not only place first in team rankings, but you'll have to purchase the necessary cars to enter higher classes. This is done by winning team races and playing the Challenge mode. In this segment of the game you are presented with time trials, team races, solo races and other tasks to accomplish. Complete each one successfully and you'll haul away a credit reward. There are 32 events, and each one is unlockable by winning races.
The game physics are a cross between a racing sim and an arcade game. Your car drifts and slides through the corners with a realistic feel, but bounce off walls and objects as though you were in a bumper car ride. Despite this, you can't haphazardly crash into objects without penalty. The more damage your car takes, the lower the performance of your car. It will start to slow down, handle erratically, or spin out more easily. So having a clean race is to your advantage. You'll be able to see just how much damage your car has taken at the end of the race by seeing it cross the finish line. If you've mishandled the car over-zealously, it will look like something that came out of the junk heap. The amount of damage your car takes equals how bad it will look. But never fear, you can always take it to the garage to repair.
As usual, the Ford racing games spotlight the Ford brand of cars. If you are a Mustang fan, you'll be able to ogle practically at every car in the series since it was first introduced. The graphics of the game are surprisingly good with no framerate problems. But what is missing are all the bells and whistles found in other racing titles. The HUD display is very sparse and offers just a minimum of information for you. There is your rank, a track map, your speed and team position in the race. Cars look true to life, and the courses hold up well. But don't expect extras such as a replay feature to review your stupendous photo finish line races.
As far as sound is concerned, there is no music! I was pretty amazed at this omission. It's like having toast with no butter, hamburger without the bun, yin without yang - well, you get the idea. In any event, don't expect a good soundtrack with this game, because it's missing. What is present in the game are the whine and rumble of your engine, the cars, and the wind blowing by you. This may not bother you after awhile because you'll be too busy taking command of your team's cars and trying to reach the finish line in a respectable rank. Although the music was missing, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
The game is not without faults, as it still has some glaring bugs in it. During the Venice Beach course, I took a turn too quickly and smashed into - and through - a wall. I then found myself suspended in space with the graphics spinning around me and the sound buzzing wildly. This is known as an "out of the world bug" in the game industry, and occurs when an invisible hole in solid structures is inadvertently left open. Go through one of these, and you are history. The save feature is also wonky. The game only allows auto save on or off. If you forget to select auto save or disable this feature, you may find yourself with a lot of game progress going down the old drain. There is no prompt after a race or event that asks you if you want to save or not if auto save is not enabled. The solo race mode is also nothing to shout about, and this reminds me of the previous Ford racing games - it's there, but that doesn't mean you would want to play it.
There is also a quick race mode and multiplayer mode, but the strength of this game is in team racing mode. It is a fresh concept in racing games, and if you can get over the fact that it is a Ford title, you may find that it is actually quite fun and challenging. For those of you who are still gun shy about any game with the word Ford in it, a rental at the store may be a safer way to go. Ford Bold Moves Street Racing, in spite of its faults, will offer some good hours of racing fun.
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