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    Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed


    reviewed by Chaplum ďChaps Ralph LaurenĒ Chu

      Developer:  EA
    Publisher: EA
    Genre: Racing

    System Requirements


    Minimum:
    Win9x
    Pentium 200Mhz or faster processor
    32MB RAM
    4X CD-ROM
    150MB HD Space
    Direct 7.0
    Hardware accelerated D3D compatible video card with 4MB RAM
    Soundcard with DirectSound support

    Recommended:
     
    Pentium III 450
    64 MB RAM
    16MB Video Card

    Reviewerís 

    AMD Athlon 700
    128MB RAM
    Geforce DDR
    Diamond MX300
    Viewsonic P815
     
    Story

    Iím sure many of you that are reading this review are hardcore NFS fans that have been playing since the original game.  For years, NFS has stood as the benchmark racing game that other companies tried to imitate.  NFS has allowed us to drive exotic cars from many different automakers that in real life would burn REALLY big holes in our wallets.  This is the first game in the series to entirely focus on one brand, Porsche.  Porscheís reputation for precise control and insanely stylish cars are carried over into the game.

    The game engine has been entirely redone this time around to include a 4-point physics model to capture the unique feel that you get from each of the different cars.  The graphics are stunning; the screenshots just donít do this game justice.  You have to view this game at 1024x768x32 with everything turned on to enjoy the lavish scenery, curvy Porsches, and spectacular weather effects.

    Graphics

    Wow!  What else can I say?  The graphics are very realistic and beautiful.  Levels are detailed with waterfalls, cliffs, trees, and photo-realistic backdrops.  Each level has its own mood, which is stunning.  The cars are modeled very nicely and look exactly like their real life counterparts.  In past NFS games, the cockpit wasnít a thing of beauty, but I can now say that this time they actually put some effort into it.  Although not entirely realistic, it is much better than ones in the past were.

    Let me remind you people that the racing genre is a very crowded one and itís the little things that set NFS apart from the competition.  When you shift gears in cockpit mode, you see the driverís hand reach out and shift.  When youíre driving along the sea in real life you donít just see water, you see boats.  In one level, there is a long stretch of road that is right by the ocean and you can see two big ocean-liners with clear transparent water effects.  I just wanted to stop my Boxter and admire the scenery.  Like I mentioned before, the screenshots donít do the graphics justice.

    Sound

    I was really impressed with the sound on my Aureal sound card.  The engine sounds are extremely realistic which is about the only sound I noticed during the game.  But thatís a good thing, sounds shouldnít stand out, they should complement the game.  When I listened carefully, I could hear the slush of the snow when my tires slipped, the scratching of my car when I was way too close to a wall, and the sweet sound of my tires spinning and my engine revving when Iím spinning out from overturning.

    Music

    There are 27 different tunes that you can cruise to in Porsche Unleashed.  Itís a mixture of techno, and dance music that really gets your juices flowing.  I find that this style suits the game perfectly as it promotes high speed with a steady beat.  The quality of these songs are very good, meaning that itís not the work of amateurs.  Although strongly influenced by the UK club scene, I found the tunes to be very enjoyable outside of the game.  They are available for download at www.needforspeed.com/porsche

    Gameplay

    First thing I have to admit is that I didnít like this game the first time I played it.  The controls felt all weird and everything seemed really slow even though I was chugging along at 120km/h.  But let me tell you something, this game really grows on you the more you play it.  Iím a gamer that likes games that are fun and I can really get addicted to games and therefore my standards are extremely high.  For me, Quake3 and StarCraft is garbage (no flame mail please).  So when I recommend a game, it has to really impress me in a big way.

    First thing I noticed was that the controls didnít feel right.  Some of you wonít notice it if you donít play High Stakes a lot but I did.  It felt sticky yet it was responsive.  In High Stakes, it felt like your car kind of glided over the surface, but in Porsche Unleashed, the sticky feeling is actually how your Porsche is hugging the road.  Once you get used to this, itís hard to go back.

    Another thing that impressed me was the different game-modes that are included in Porsche Unleashed.  You can join the Porsche Factory Testing Crew where you can test out many different Porsches under different conditions.  Factory Driver is a mission based gameplay style where you start off as junior test driver and build up your reputation to get promoted.  Missions include doing test runs such as 360-degree spins, delivering Porsches to customers (without scratching them of course, and on time), navigate through obstacle courses, and drag race to beat the clock.  If you play Factory Driver, be prepared for a challenge.  Each mission gets progressively more difficult than the last.  Missions that are especially hard are ones that require you to deliver Porsches unscratched.  While this may not seem difficult to those that have not tried it before, picture this; Your boss wants you to deliver a Porsche Boxster in MINT condition to the docks where it will be picked up.  Seems easy you think, but then he tells you that the boat is leaving in 3 minutes.  No problem.  You get on the road and suddenly you realize that youíre dodging cars left and right while going at 200km/h.  If thatís not bad enough, the cops start chasing you then the road suddenly starts getting curvier.  And by the time you reach the docks in perfect condition marveling at how you dodged all those cars, the time reads 3:10.  Better luck next time!

    For those of you that are into tweaking and modifying cars, Porsche Evolution is what you should be playing.  This is another game-mode where you build a career that revolves around the Porsche.  You start off with a little cash to buy your first car.  When you win races, you are rewarded with money, which in turn can be used to repair or upgrade your car.  There are over 700 parts from which you can choose from the Official Porsche Catalogue.

    Another thing that could be just a rumor is that the Hot Pursuit game mode is back.  It requires that you beat the last mission in Factory Driver on your first time and that you finish Porsche Evolution with $100,000,000 (correct me if Iím wrong here).  While this is great, I find that the cops in the normal game are more than enough to handle.  This time around, the cops are suddenly faster and smarter.  Most of the time, youíll be able to blow right by them, but watch out Ďcause I swear theyíve got some nitro stashed somewhere.  Theyíll starting chasing you and fishtailing you if youíre not careful.  This is extremely annoying when youíre trying to deliver those Porsches in mint condition.

    Bottom Line

    If youíve never played NFS before and want to try it, this is the best place to start.  If youíve played NFS before youíve got to give this game a chance, itíll blow you away.  And, if youíre the type of gamer who likes to tinker with their cars and likes a wide variety of choices with realistic game modes, this is also the game for you.  And of course, if you love Porsches, youíve got to get this game.  I must admit, Iíve always loved BMWs for their sexy look and high performance, but I suddenly have a place in my heart for Porsches.

    Pros

    · Amazing Graphics
    · Great soundtrack
    · Realistic controls
    · High Replayability

    Cons

    The only flaw in this game was that it wasnít tested enough.  Although this is becoming the normal practice of software developers, it has to stop somewhere.  Youíre probably wondering what Iím complaining about since I wrote such a positive review about this game.  Well, this game most definitely wasnít tested with a GeForce DDR as many people are getting bad frame rates at certain areas in the game with a GeForce.  Youíre probably all saying ďwhatever, man, 30 FPS isnít slow.Ē  No, weíre not talking 40 FPS, try somewhere around 20 @ 1024x768x16.  For a game that is all about speed, I find this very disappointing since Iím not exactly one with a mediocre system.  I hope EA gets their act together and software companies take note because gamers are demanding more and more and if you donít deliver, youíll end up paying for it in the long run.

    << Rating: 94 >>
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