Metropolis Street Racer (MSR)

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Rating System: Please include a rating on the scale from 1 to 10. Make sure to put the name of the game in the topic title (game name must be first in the title) Example: 'Toy Racer Review by yadayadagames'. Also include a poll with options 1-10 other users can rate the game (you can add our own subtitles for each ranking or leave it blank). Example: http://dreamcast-talk.com/forum/viewtop ... f=34&t=789

Poll: Metropolis Street Racer: Podium or Pit Lane?

1 Bug-ridden garbage; I spit on it...HUK-TUH!
0
No votes
2 Kudos?..Schmudos!
0
No votes
3 Sega Europe's shame..leave the racing games to AM2!
0
No votes
4 Yu Suzuki is not amused
0
No votes
5 Mediocre Street Racing
0
No votes
6 Cute game, but I'm bored already
0
No votes
7 Flawed but fun
7
47%
8 WOTS PGR?
3
20%
9 I wanna have Bizarre Creation's babies
1
7%
10 FORZA 4? FORZA-BORE! MSR FOREVER BABY!
4
27%
Total votes: 15

rjay63
Prince of Persia
Posts: 342

Metropolis Street Racer (MSR)

Post#1 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:38 pm

Let me begin this review by saying MSR's legacy is assured. It pioneered the idea there is more to racing than just coming first (Kudos) and was one of first to feature accurate models of world cities (London, San Francisco & Tokyo). You can see elements of MSR in many other racers, not just in its sequels (the Project Gotham series), but also in more recent titles such as Need For Speed Shift 2. However what matters in the end is not who did it first, but who does it best, and sadly MSR's main game is fundamentally flawed. But there is one redeeming feature that just keep me coming back for more.......

Graphics:
On one hand Metropolis Street Racer was a monumental achievement. Over 40,000 photos were taken in areas of London, San Francisco & Tokyo and then converted into 3D backgrounds. The accuracy recreation was stunning and back in 2000/2001, it was possible to use MSR as a mini 'Google Earth'! Also some of the lighting effects at night, especially the Trafalgar courses, are fantastic and remain benchmarks of graphical excellence. Sadly some basic mistakes mar these achievements. The colour scheme during daylight racing can be very drab (where is the sunshine?) and at night, certain tracks have 'dark spots' so you cannot see anything!. MSR also has an annoying 'shimmering' effect throughout; just look how the railings on the London tracks bend and bow as you drive pass. The cars models themselves, while not stunning, are adequate for the task and I can appreciate most of the DC's graphical power went into the courses themselves.

Sound:
The car sounds are fine and do their job accordingly. Each city also has their own radio stations which is a nice touch although I bemused as to why there are no Japanese songs on the Tokyo stations. Many US players also complain about the existence of a Country and Western station in San Francisco. The music soundtrack, created by the legendary Richard Jacques, still divides opinion to this day. Being a dance music fan, the standout tracks for me are 'Heartlands', 'Club Paris' and 'Passion'. These are the only tracks that seems to fit the game's mood and style. The other music either feels out of place or is just downright awful! Special mention though to "It's A Long Long Road" (...she had to buy some underwear and asked if I could take her there..) and "Let's Get It On Tonight" for their comedic value.

Control:
MSR's car physics are stunning and are a perfect example of 'restrained' arcade racing (ie no boosts or power ups). This especially applies to the faster cars like the Evo 6, Fairlady Z, Jensen SV-8 or Skyline GTR. Due to the way powerslides are initiated (combination of gas, break and handbrake), I find a pad more accurate than using a wheel. Powerslides are the fastest way to corner on MSR; whether this was intentional or just a handling 'bug' I couldn't say. While driving the cars in MSR is a lot of fun, hardcore racers (fans of F355, Forza and Gran Turismo) may be put off by the unrealistic physics.

PS If you play the demo versions of MSR (DreamOn 13/Opel Challenge), the handling is very different and feels more like a simulation (ie the car slides when you release the gas and turn).

Gameplay:
Street Racing is the main mode in MSR and your task is to complete 250 racing tasks while gaining as many Kudos points as possible. Therefore the more tasks you complete and Kudos you earn, the more cars and courses become available. Unfortunately there are two major faults. Firstly 250 tasks is far too many; it takes forever to unlock high spec cars like the Mazda RX-7 or Toyota Supra so many players just give up. It's no surprise that the majority of people who bought MSR never actually completed it! Secondly the Kudos system is fundamentally flawed. It's possible to gain big scores by driving back and forth performing 180 degree powerslides as opposed to honing your driving skills. As a result, very few Kudos scores can be taken seriously. A shame as more balance, stricter time limits and penalties for 180's could have easily stopped this.

MSR also has Multiplay and Quick Race mode however you still need to unlock cars and courses in Street Racing mode first. The 3 cars and 9 courses available at the start are simply inadequate; an option to access some fast cars and longer tracks should have been available immediately. I should mention the 'pursuit' mode in Multiplayer is an interesting idea and it's unfortunate it was not included in single play.

The game also has far too many unnecessary menu screens; very annoying when all you want is a quick retry. Worst of all, if there are too many cars on-screen (ie more than 4), the frame rate will drop considerably. Add some rain effects to the mix and everything becomes embarrassing slow. Certainly not something to show your friends if you're out to demonstrate the Dreamcast's power!

However as I mentioned before, MSR has one redeeming feature and that is Time Attack! Stripping the game down to just a car and track allows me to savour the fun handling without frame drops or flawed scoring systems getting in the way. Adding my own ghost car to chase gives MSR an almost drug-like quality: I just have to get a new record and I'll happily spend hours racing around a track to do it. MSR's Time Attack modes are the reason I put my Dreamcast back online in 2010 in order to upload/download ghosts and Time Trials. With 262 tracks, a large array of cars and various weather conditions I may be playing for a long time yet!


Verdict:
MSR certainly had the ideas but didn't have the execution. If you are looking for a great Kudos racing experience, I would opt for Project Gotham 2 on XBOX instead. However if you're after addictive handling and fun Time Attack racing, MSR is one of the best ever! And if you have friends that are happy to compete with you for the best times and swap ghosts, you'll be in racing heaven!

Final Score: 7/10
Last edited by rjay63 on Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My Metropolis Street Racer Blog: http://www.msrdreamcast.blogspot.co.uk
MSR ghosts/time trials and official DLC: http://www.dreamcastlive.net/metropolis ... r-dlc.html

Neohound
Gold Lion
Posts: 1612

Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#2 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:22 am

Excellent review rjay63. You're obviously a big fan of the game yet you've kept the review unbiased and well balanced. You should do some other DC game write ups.

I think, with the benefit of hindsight, that you're about spot on with the 7/10 score as well. Although if you rewind the years back to it's release day I would have given it a 10 ! It's hard to imagine just how much impact this game had back then. My sister lived in London at the time and I would try and catch a glimpse of her apartment whilst flying round the track ! I'd never seen anything like MSR before and I thought it was the most amazing spectacle.

Me and my friends played the game almost non stop for months. My Playstation-owning mates were green with envy, it captured so many gamers imaginations and, for a while, it made owning a DC seem very special indeed. Oh, and I did complete it !

I gradually moved on to F355, Le Mans 24hr, Tokyo Extreme Racer 2 and Vanishing Point and MSR rarely got a look in I'm afraid, but I still look back on those times with fondness.

These days, photo realistic racers are ten a penny but I think MSR is still a must-play on the DC if, for nothing else, you can see where it all began.

rjay63
Prince of Persia
Posts: 342

Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#3 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:10 pm

Thanks for the compliment Neohound. MSR is very much the 'Shenmue' of racing games: expensive to produce, heavily hyped, constantly delayed and when eventually released, it divided opinion and had very disappointing sales. Only 120,000 copies were sold in the US and Europe which probably led to the Japanese release being cancelled. Soon after MSR's release, Bizarre Creations teamed with Microsoft to make Project Gotham and the rest is history. Sega Europe must have come out looking pretty bad, especially with the bugged PAL copies fiasco, and I'd say MSR is a game they'd like to forget!

One thing I neglected to mention in my review was the lack of 'air' when driving on the San Francisco hills. This was criticised at the time but back then, car manufacturers were reluctant to allow this type of thing.

PS You may be interested in this early footage of MSR from a Spanish TV show made in '99. The game looked a lot different back then and there was even talk of a 'gang mode'. The main programmer in the video (Matt Birch) left Bizarre Creations which lead to the game being remade and the subsequent delays.


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXs2r6nQkfk[/youtube]
Last edited by rjay63 on Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.
My Metropolis Street Racer Blog: http://www.msrdreamcast.blogspot.co.uk
MSR ghosts/time trials and official DLC: http://www.dreamcastlive.net/metropolis ... r-dlc.html

User avatar
CD AGES
Shark Patrol
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#4 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:22 am

Wonderful review! I would love to read any more DC reviews if you plan on writing more!
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Gary_b
Quantic Dream
Posts: 1809
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#5 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:52 am

MSR is probably my favorite Dreamcast racer next to Hydro Thunder.

rjay63
Prince of Persia
Posts: 342

Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#6 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:16 pm

I've just bought the copy of EDGE magazine that contained the article "The Making Of Metropolis Street Racer" (2006) and the sales figures were worse than I thought: only 120,000 thousand copies sold worldwide! Checking online reveals 102,000 of those were in the US and out of the 18,000 copies sold in Europe, 13,300 of those were sold at launch! I guess the PAL bug fiasco had a bigger impact than I thought.
My Metropolis Street Racer Blog: http://www.msrdreamcast.blogspot.co.uk
MSR ghosts/time trials and official DLC: http://www.dreamcastlive.net/metropolis ... r-dlc.html

Neohound
Gold Lion
Posts: 1612

Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#7 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:05 pm

Hi rjay, thanks for the updates. That vid, is it really French ? Doesn't sound like it ! Very interesting footage though, it did look very different to and, dare I say it, better in some ways than the final product. A couple of things I noticed were the tyre smoke trails and those balloons flying overhead - made the cars and environments seem more 'alive' and 'realistic' although no sign of the talked about pedestrians.

6,700 copies sold in Europe after the launch eh.................that's unbelievable :shock:

Or is it ? I'm not totally surprised at that figure, though it is way lower than I would have expected. It was, as you've already said, very delayed and with the hype that surrounded it, well I guess a lot of people were very unhappy about the stuation and kinda just got sick of the whole game before it had a chance to sell.

One word comes to mind and that is PIRACY. I'm not kidding you, whole towns were swamped by copies of MSR at one point. I remember a friend of mine coming round to my house waving this copy of the game saying he'd got it for £5 from a car boot sale. It was in a cd case complete with dodgy cover and a copy of Utopia boot disk included. I checked the sale out the following week and this guy had literally hundreds of copies and he sold a shed load of other DC games as well - I don't think the DC was a failure to him ! lol

Oh, btw I think you've been a bit harsh on the in game music. The variety of music and the whole radio thing/vibe was pretty unique in those days, especially the crackling noise when you went through a tunnel - very atmospheric ! Richard Jaques, the composer, did a decent job of catering to a whole spectrum of musical tastes even if it wasn't everyone's cup of tea.

I really must let my young lad play the game. I'd be quite interested in his reaction to it almost twelve years since release :)

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elmagicochrisg
Metallic
Posts: 888

Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#8 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:05 pm

The 3rd and final PAL version was bug free just like the NTSC version.

I wonder if there is a way you can see what version you have without playing the game.

Maybe a different serial number or something...
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Gary_b
Quantic Dream
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#9 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:49 am

Neohound wrote:Oh, btw I think you've been a bit harsh on the in game music. The variety of music and the whole radio thing/vibe was pretty unique in those days, especially the crackling noise when you went through a tunnel - very atmospheric ! Richard Jaques, the composer, did a decent job of catering to a whole spectrum of musical tastes even if it wasn't everyone's cup of tea.
i think he was a tad hard on the game in general. even though he didn't give it a bad review, he seems to be judging it from today's perspective. i don't mind this, though it doesn't do it justice. back in the day this game was the shit and would of scored higher than a 7 out of 10. 7 seems ok, just a tad low and i did the same thing at first when i seen the review. i thought 7 seems fair, then i thought about what else was out back then and that made me think 8.5 is more accurate. 8.5 inst perfect, but it better describes the games quality to me.

Neohound
Gold Lion
Posts: 1612

Re: Metropolis Street Racer (MSR) Review

Post#10 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:24 am

elmagicochrisg wrote:The 3rd and final PAL version was bug free just like the NTSC version.

I wonder if there is a way you can see what version you have without playing the game.

Maybe a different serial number or something...


I've wondered about that myself. Also I can't remember what bugs were in the game ? Do you know ?

Gary_b, I| think I said earlier in the thread that back in the day this game had such an impact that it would have deserved a 10 score. Sitting with a few mates, tearing round London at night with the radio blasting, it was shear driving game nirvana imo. In that moment Ridge Racer, GT and every driving game before it seemed so 'yesterdays news'.

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