Review: Star Wars Episode I: Racer

Satisfactory return to the track.

Aspyr Media treated us – after a few perturbations – with another classic from the world of Star Wars. This time it was racing, which is according to some (at the time when this game was released): the best we got thanks to the prequels. Of course, we are talking about Pod Racer races on Tatooine, which we could observe in The Phantom Menace. Can you still have fun with this title on the current generation consoles? Let’s check it out!

Let’s start with the visual side. If you want to feel the retro spirit – this is the game for you. All the visuals have been turned up so that the game runs smoothly and looks correct on the TV. However, I am afraid that without the right context and time to explain the origin of the title, younger recipients may immediately bounce back from this title – at least on PS4. Everything is extremely angular, taken straight out of the original. The graphic assets are only adjusted, not tweaked and improved. And here I have one fundamental problem, because the cutscenes, intro and all animated scenes were also removed from the original. And unfortunately it shows very much! Nothing has been done to improve the quality and adapt these materials to the modern possibilities of the equipment we have at home. On a decent TV (I played on LG OLED) the intro greeted me with terrible pixels and … a slide show, as if the console was not working, and this is not The Last of Us 2. But in terms of graphics, it’s the only complaint. In addition, I have the impression that on the Switch it will be much less visible and noticeable.

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In terms of the gameplay itself, you can still feel the magic of speed and how! Racer I was always charmed by how brilliantly rendered the amazing speeds that the vehicles achieved during the races. And it’s still here. And on the big screen you can feel it really strong. I found myself leaning back when taking off, as if it were crushing me into the seat, or leaning sideways on sharp turns, and my finger was constantly wandering around the brake. Oh yes – despite the fact that the meter often showed 450 or 500 units on the meter (well – units of what? Because not kilometers per hour?), The “braking is not an option” method prevailed, which often resulted in a spectacular explosion and loss one two seats. Because you have to remember that these are extremely fast races – despite the fact that the minimap does not show any of the opponents behind your back, and a quick glance behind your back confirms this belief, they are there. All you need to do is catch a stone or other obstacle on the track. That you will crash and two or three participants of the race are already passing you. But it has its own amazing charm.
The sound setting is impeccable – great music from the Star Wars universe during the races, all dialogue lines mapped almost perfectly, allow you to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a distant galaxy and enjoy the joyful madness on the track. We do not have Jedi here, but the familiar sounds of droids and the machines themselves immediately bring you to the right atmosphere.

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We have 4 races at our disposal, each of which consists of seven tracks. On top of that, there are the secret races to which we are admitted over time, reaching high positions. At the start, we also have a choice of 5 different drivers (yes, Anakin is among them), each of which has a different statistic vehicle. With time – by breaking track records or being the first at the finish – we get access to our opponents’ podiums, so we can try them on the route.
An additional element is the possibility of developing our supply. For each race – as long as we finish it in a sufficiently high position – we get credits that we can spend on replacing parts in our vehicle. Thanks to this, we increase general possibilities such as speed, brakes and endurance. Additionally, we can buy repair droids for our rally team. They allow you to increase and speed up repairs during the race. If we catch an element on the route, we can only damage our pod. We will not crash, but the faults will affect the performance, which will make us turn worse or move slower. Our droids allow us to make repairs on the run, during the race, and trust me – in the later stages this is a very useful skill and should not be neglected.
If we cannot afford the original parts, which we buy in the Watto shop, we can go to the junkyard – the parts there are much cheaper but also of much lower quality, which means that they wear out faster or may stop working during races. The choice is yours.

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The game is also great for a two-player game. The split screen works properly (although you can see a slight drop in the number of frames at times) and it’s really great fun. Especially since on some tracks and at high speeds you have to really concentrate on what is happening in your half of the screen.
In conclusion – I do not know if Racer it won’t look better on the Switch. It will definitely be great for a trip and as a clog when traveling by public transport. On PS4, if you turn a blind eye to the graphics that stick with the mouse, the title can provide many moments of joy and cheers after winning a really exciting race. This is another well-made port that is worth its money. Playing this title is asking for a full-fledged remaster. From the gameplay side, everything is there, although there are a few things that could be added (like online racing). There is a lot to change from the visual side, but I have the impression that it is refreshed Racer would find a lot of new fans.

Provided the game for review Aspyr Media.