"Star Wars: Episode I Racer" is a science fiction racing video game. It was first released for the Sega Dreamcast in 2000 by LucasArts. In the United States, the game received an age guidance rating of "E" which deemed it appropriate for all ages. It is based on modern renditions of the "Star Wars" film series.
Focusing on Anakin Skywalker's pivotal "podracing" scene in "The Phantom Menace", the player assumes the role of a young Anakin and must guide him through various intergalactic pod races with aims of becoming the undisputed champion. This is accomplished by entering the tournament mode of play and competing in eight galaxy specific tournaments which each contain a minimum of four races. The player must rank in at least the fourth pole position to progress to the next stage of play, and will receive in-game cash winnings depending on his or her performance and ranking. This cash is spendable for a variety of mechanical parts and pod upgrades which will increase aspects such as top speed and acceleration rates. I find a methodical approach to upgrading parts is often necessary as it appears that opponents "level up" their racing statistics evenly. Investing too heavily in acceleration, for example, often hinders the player's ability to keep up with the rest of the pack during the heat of a race despite gaining an early lead. Also dependent on personal performance, players may unlock hidden characters and their respective racing pods which can be utilized in the game's "free race" exhibition mode.
The game itself adheres to traditional racing aspects and strategic thought. Players will often come to sharp turns and must utilize the pod's brakes in order to avoid meandering off course and smashing into the nearest available barrier, and will often be required to execute swift driving maneuvers to pass opponents within confined spaces. There is little by the way of innovation but this is offset by the high speeds at which races are contested. Races are conducted at a suggested 500+ km/ph which is simulated well in the game. Because of this, however, the in-game worlds often blur past the player in a flash and don't allow a significant amount of time to sit and admire the scenery. That is not to say the title is unnecessarily difficult, but there is a slight learning curve in adjusting to the quicker, rapid-fire pace of play.
The graphics are presented from a trailing view of the player's pod racer, and it is this aspect which I find to remain consistent in terms of its frame rates throughout the visual presentation. Despite the world blasting past the player while racing, the pod is often graceful in flight and allows the player to observe the various mechanics of its operation. Turbine engines blast torrents of fire as the player sits back in a separate seated area while guiding it using attached reins. For the most part, the scenery which the player will see is well drawn but unfortunately is not fully visible in play due to the player whizzing around at high speeds. The soundtrack is appropriate as per the Star Wars franchise. A series of orchestral scores accompany each race, and a few outbursts from random opponents and Anakin will play in the event of a mid-race collision.
I enjoy what Racer has to provide. It certainly makes for exciting play due to its out of the ordinary premise, and keeps to the Star Wars canon very well. I would happily recommend it to prospective buyers.
Whether your a Star Wars fan or not, this racing game is excellent. Based on the Star Wars Episode One podracing scenes you play as one of many unique characters and vehicles in extremely well design courses in a fast and exciting racing game really unlike any other. There are a number of tournaments to complete containing many visually interesting worlds and courses. The gameplay is great, speeding, sliding and flying through tunnels, tight gaps and moving set-pieces. Its challenging, matching the racers to the courses with their individual skills and once rewarded with money for winning races you can adapt and enhance your vehicle to make sure your the greatest podracer on the planet. Unlike many multiplayer sections of racing games, the graphics and functions are not limited and the full single player courses as well as all characters are avaliable on multiplayer races which makes the multiplayer races as exciting as the single player. This is a great racing game, being based on Star Wars is really a secondary issue, as the gameplay, course design and racing vehicles combine to form a superb racing experience.