STAFF REVIEW of Grooverider: Slot Car Thunder (Xbox)


Thursday, October 2, 2003.
by BigJosh359

Grooverider: Slot Car Thunder Box art Slot car racing has been around and very popular since the early 1960's. A lot of boys got a slot car track of their own as kids, I remember 3 of mine. But those are not the slot car racing hardcore racers do. They have room size tracks that they compete on. In the video game age though, slot car racing just as a toy has died off and it was only a matter of time before this hobby crossed over into a video game. The people at Encore have successfully brought this past time to the Xbox. Grooverider will be priced at $19.99, pretty good price considering the games that are out today that run for $49.99 easily.


If you ever had a slot car race track as a kid, you know what to expect from this game. You can go forward and slow down with however much pressure you apply to the button. Encore decided to add in lane switching which wasnt used much on slot car tracks. As with any slot car racing, you have to slow down in the curves, or you will fly off the track. There isn't much to be said about the game controls here, Grooverider is a simple game with game controls that are very straight forward.



It may sound boring and too easy, but there are added elements to keep you coming back to the game for more and make the game a challenge. Grooverider has jumps, loops, wall climbs, missing parts of the track, power ups, track hazards, and interactive environments. The power ups can help you for the most part or hurt you depending on how you use them. There is a jump and booster that can reek havoc if used in the wrong parts of the track. You can lay mines for your opponents to hit, but you will have to remember where you placed it because sometimes, you may be the one to hit it. There are shield power-ups to help you mow down hazards if you happen not to avoid them in time. Then there is an energy pulse to help you out with hazards that are in the way or if you are good enough, to blast the opponent ahead of you off the track.



Lane switching is something to get used to. You have four lanes to chose from and when switching left to right, you have to hit the lane switch button ever time you switch lanes, so there is no switching from lane one to four just like that.



With that game play, you must look far ahead on the track to see whats coming at you. But sometimes the environment you are in will throw a curve ball at you, like toast suddenly dropping on parts of the track when racing in the kitchen. The father you go in the game, the harder the tracks and opponents become.



Of course, just like every other game, you can unlock a bunch of new cars, 20 in all, that run at 3 different voltages and 20 different tracks and 5 environments with 4 bonus tracks.


For a $20 game, the environments look pretty dang good. You will be racing over and under tables and beds and plants plus whatever else they throw at you. I wouldn't say its eye candy, but they look good. The car shells look decent with your choice of 1920's British cars to stock cars to Indy cars. Whenever you got a speed burst or hit a huge jump, there was some minor graphical slow downs, but not enough to hamper game play.


This game has some decent music to groove to while racing, mostly techno. But if you dont want that, custom soundtracks are supported. Probably some Isaac Hayes would be awesome to groove too. Thankfully the game doesnt have an annoying engine sound when racing. It is mostly smothered in the background from everything else that is going on the screen.


Suggestions:
I would suggest a custom track editor. I would love to make some mad tracks for this game. More environments than different track layouts. Custom car bodies. Add more racers to the tracks, make them 8 or 10 lanes. More interaction from the enviroments themselves. Cause more chaos! Maybe a best crash or a wipeout feature in the game. XBL content downloads. More of everything!


Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.4 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10

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