The original Star Wars: Epidose I Racer was a special game for me for many reasons. The demo of the PC version was one of the first games I played in my very first PC. The Dreamcast version was a cult game for me and a friend (he actually enjoyed it even more than I), and one of the few racing games I played multiplayer with my buddies. I actually even played the arcade version of the game once, which, in case you guys don't know, is completely different from the home versions. Supported by a vastly superior graphics engine and with completely different tracks (one of which, if my memory serves me correctly, I think was ported to Racer Revenge), it also had a unique control scheme. Instead of using some regular wheel, it mimicked the "real" (how real can a fictional vehicle be?) Podracers, using one stick to control each engine.
Well, now it's time to move on, leave Episode I Racer behind, and say hello to it's sequel, Racer Revenge!
So, what does this new game have to offer? Well, for a start, the first thing I noticed when I first played the game was the graphics. God, this game is gorgeous! The difference between this and the previous game is huge! Not so much because of the PS2's power, since this machine is not that better than the Dreamcast, but more because this is an exclusive game, and not just some port of a PC/N64 game. The podracers are über detailed, the tracks are awesome and there's even some pretty sweet lighting effects.
The tracks are not just pretty, with delicious details all over the place (that unfortunately you can't really appreciate, since you pass by them at 400 km/h), but they're also superbly designed. Most tracks are pretty standard, but there are also tracks so brilliantly designed that you'll find yourself gazing with awe at the imagination of the producers, with sections where you literally fly over the track and others were it seems like you're in some sort of crazy roller-coaster.
The gameplay is pretty much the same, except for the new destruction system. Now every opponent has a life bar, and you're always encouraged to ram them until that bar expires. They can do the same to you, and although now it's not so easy to explode against the environment like in the previous game, on the other hand, once you wreck your podracer, you're done for good, since there's no respawn here.
About game modes, there's just a few here. Besides you're usual single race and vs. mode, there's only one championship mode. With just 14 stages, it's not going to last forever, but at least it's fun while it lasts. Here you can upgrade your podracer and unlock lots of stuff, like new tracks, podracers and even artwork galleries.
Anyway, although short, this game sure is an awesome and thrilling experience. When you're in a canyon at 400 km/h, battling against an opponent that's trying to ram you against the wall, while trying to make all the curves without crashing against the stone pillars in the middle of the track, suddenly all other racing games seem boring...
Whether you're a fan of the original game or just like fast-paced arcade racing games, this game is for you. Make sure you won't miss it, specially since it's running dirt cheap on ebay.
And in case you're looking for some quality music, I wrote this review while listening to:
Blind Guardian - Quest for Tanelorn
Dio - Holy Diver
Moonspell - Finisterra
Moonspell - Upon the Blood of Men (unfortunately it's not on youtube, but if you like the song above, look out for this one)