When I first played Impact Racing from JVC, I immediately thought of one thing – Wipeout on wheels! However, that’s by no means a criticism, because this is an extremely fast-paced racer. It’s just the music, commentary and FX are, err, somewhat similar. “Dopplegänger” is the word that springs to mind.
In fact, this isn’t based on racing at all – you have a choice of six cars at the start of the game, all capable of different speeds. They each have special built-in weapons which, when driving along the many tracks, will destroy the other cars and allow you to race over the finish line unscathed.
It’s good to see a ‘racing’ game that steers away from the usual format of trying to beat other cars to first place – and it does have its advantages. For instance, if a certain car is constantly bugging you by weaving left and right across the track and you can’t get past, just blow him away with your lasers or heat seeking missiles. Admittedly, this may not seem totally original, but this style has never been applied to a game with Wipeout-style graphics and engine.
As seems to be the case with most PlayStation titles, the smooth graphics tend to distract your attention away from the actual gameplay – each track flies past at a breath-taking rate, and there is always something to attract your attention, which can usually lead to you crashing or being blown up by other racers! When a certain car is destroyed, it will leave behind a special icon: drive over this and your car will receive a weapon which can be used once, to destroy the other cars. Small complaints aside, Impact Racing bears all the qualities of a responsive, not to mention damn fast 32-bit racing game. My initial impressions were that this would be too straightforward, with very little to actually see, but this fortunately wasn’t the case. The backgrounds on some of the tracks, such as the one in space and the ice track, look brilliant and really do convey the convincing feeling of speed and height. Impact Racing isn’t short of its tunnels (aka Ridge Racer) and these also look very realistic, with neat light effects.
Each car handles extremely favourably, especially on the harder tracks with tight corners and tunnels, which are easy to bash into. Once a car is selected, it starts off with a weak laser, but this gradually becomes stronger and more effective once you start picking up more upgrade icons. The aim of each race is to destroy a certain amount of cars before the time limit runs out, and finish in the tightest time possible – not an easy task I can assure you. Once the tracks become more complicated, it gets easier to lose the enemy cars behind the additional twists, turns and obstacles. As well as that, enemies can lay deadly mines, should you come too close. A simple screen diagram also lets you know if any cars are approaching from behind, so your mines can easily deal with them.
Overall, I was impressed with Impact Racing – the graphics retain that all important sensation of speed and good handling, and each track presents more of a challenge, so lastability is guaranteed. The top techno beats keep the blasting action going along nicely too. A very impressive racing package which, although not as good as Wipeout, still stands out from the crowd as a top 3D shooter.