Battlefield 1: Not the First One.

Battlefield 1 Cover art

This review contains spoilers. TL:DR, it’s good go play it.

The Battlefield franchise is a venerable entry in the FPS genre, the first entry was Battlefield 1942 which released on Windows and OS X in 2002. The main focus has always been large online battles in large maps with vehicles and destructible terrain. Admittedly I’m unfamiliar with the franchise. My first experience with the series was Battlefield 2: Modern Combat on the PS2, followed quite a while later with Battlefield 3 on the PS3. I never got into it as much as I did the Call of Duty games of the time, which were my preferred online FPS as a teenager.

Battlefield 1 was released in late 2016 and is the fifteenth installment in the franchise. It marks a first for the series in that it takes place in World War One, compared to the entries before it which were modern, and the earlier titles which took place during World War Two, as was common. Not many games take place in World War One, largely because it’s hard to gamify. DICE got around this by simply making a World War One themed World War Two game. This isn’t the worst thing, but it’s far from accurate in terms of the guns you’ll use, and yes, there’s a power armour sequence. More on that below.

What I really liked about the older Medal of Honor games is how they feel like war movie games, which makes sense since MoH was Spielberg’s project originally, the way they play feels like an old war movie. One heroic but kinda generic dude mows down Nazi after Nazi complete with music swells, elaborate death animations and improbable sequences. Despite how much I love those games, despite their flaws (and there are a lot of flaws) they do have some issues. The extremely simplified nature of them makes the stories not amazingly interesting. Battlefield 1 feels like it’s a modernization of this concept in a lot of ways.

Gone are the generic American McJawlines that made up the rosters of MoH games past, replaced with a diverse roster of lesser told stories. The opening, Storm of Steel, has you play various members of the Harlem Hellfighters, The 369th Infantry Regiment, notably made up of a majority of African Americans and Puerto Rican Americans. This sequence is effective but let down somewhat by the bullet sponge flamethrower enemies, though to be fair these are likely there for balance reasons. Without them I could see players playing this for ages not realizing they’re meant to die. It’s a supposed to lose fight and acts as the bookends of the game, in that respect it’s very effective and good. A great opening.

The second story, Through Mud and Blood, follows a British tank crew tasked with punching through enemy lines, it goes about as well as one might expect for a game focused on the loss and futility of war as core concepts. It starts off fairly weak, but it improves a lot as it goes on. The gameplay, especially in the tank babysitting sections, can get grating but it’s mostly solid. After you push through the enemy lines you become stuck in the mud, and facing Germans rushing the tank Townsend orders a pigeon carrying orders for an artillery strike be sent out. The artillery hits almost directly on top of the tank, but through extreme luck it’s unscathed and carries on into the Bourlon Woods. This begins the tank babysitting section.

The tank babysitting is up there as one of the worst choices in the game. You come upon a forest where the fog is so thick you’re tasked by the commander, Townsend, with scouting ahead. You quickly find trouble and have to clear enemy camps. This isn’t a bad idea on paper, it provides a contrast to the power fantasy of being a tank in a World War 1 game nicely, but the execution is very eh. You can sneak through the camps but the stealth gameplay is lacking, and as soon as the shooting starts the tank Kool-Aid Mans its way onto the scene into the direct firing line of multiple field guns, so not only do you need to worry about yourself you also have to take care of the tank, which is extremely vulnerable. It would be far easier to just take the entire camp on solo.

After you clear the forest, mechanical problems force the tank to stop, thankfully the Germans ahead have salvaged British tanks that you can steal parts from. By this point you’ve lost two of the tank crew and are left with Townsend, McManus, and your player character Edwards. Townsend is injured, so it’s up to Edwards and McManus to infiltrate the village to salvage the spark plugs needed. McManus objects, viewing it as a suicide mission, and Edwards tells him to leave, he does. The village infiltration isn’t very hard. You find a silenced sniper rifle pretty early on and the enemy AI breaks when you use that. They’ll watch a friend’s head explode and calmly investigate the corpse while you line up the second shot. This is funny, granted, but it’s not amazingly immersive. Once you get the parts you head back to the tank with the help of a well placed horse, as you’re entering the tank you’re attacked from behind only to be saved by McManus, who had a change of heart and returned.

The tank continues on, coming across a railway station being used as a staging point by German forces planning to retake Cambrai. The crew heroically attack it, taking out multiple vehicles, and destroying the German forces that arrive to reinforce it. Black Bess is then immobilized by artillery and overrun by German infantry. Edwards and McManus are injured fighting the infantry and a mortally wounded Townsend sacrifices himself by igniting a gas leak in Black Bess, killing the German forces. Edwards and McManus limp along the road toward friendly lines. The subtitle then informs you that the war ended a month later.

This is my favourite story in a lot of ways. Thematically it’s extremely strong. Themes of sacrifice and courage are contrasted with the utter pointlessness of it. The performances of the actors and animators are amazing, Mark Bonnar as Townsend is especially amazing in his final scene. As obvious as it was that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending from the beginning I still hoped for one.

The second war story, Friends in High Places, is the weakest. You play American pilot Clyde Blackburn, for some reason. Blackburn cheats George Rackham, a British pilot, out of an experimental plane and poses as him on its test flight. Rackham’s gunner, Wilson, accompanies you as you go through a short tutorial. German fighters attack and you have to fight them off, once only one remains it flees, and you follow, finding a German fort full of munitions. Wilson photographs it and Blackburn convinces him to tell command about it and they launch an offensive to destroy it. This part is fairly simple, you have to take out the AA guns, fight fighters, and defend bombers. The hardest part about this is the fight controls, which I’ve never been a fan of but it’s not too bad. It’s fairly easy as long as you don’t crash into the ground like I did more than a few times while attacking the AA guns. After the fort is bombed enough it cuts to a cutscene where Blackburn does something stupid and crashes.

You then have to sneak, or shoot, through German lines and into No Man’s Land, where you find Wilson. Blackburn then nearly murders him with a plank of wood instead of helping him back to friendly lines and this is the point where I checked out. Blackburn is unsympathetic and unlikable. Wilson reveals that he knew Blackburn was a fraud all along and for some reason this makes Clyde, Paragon of Good Choices, decide to not murder someone that’s been nothing but nice to him. You then have to avoid British machine gun fire to make it to the friendly trenches while carrying Wilson. You make it and are (correctly) arrested for stealing a plane and impersonating Rackham. On the way to be court martialed the ship carrying you is attacked by German fighters and Rackham is unceremoniously killed, Blackburn convinces Wilson to make more poor choices and free him so they can steal another plane and go to fight the German aircraft. Upon doing so they discover bombers and zeppelins moving to attack London and engage them. When you get the zeppelin to low health Blackburn decides to fly close enough to a German AA gun that he can verbally taunt the guy shooting it while moving slowly next to it and gets shot down. Again, not a smart man. You crash into the zeppelin and fight your way across to the AA gun, which you take control of to shoot the other zeppelin and enemy fighters. The second zeppelin explodes and it turns out that fire hurts so Blackburn, Wilson, and the German that was on the AA gun, whom Wilson has been fighting this entire time, are forced to jump off. Blackburn survives this and climbs out of the River Thames, lays on the dock and narrates the ending, where he refers to himself as an unreliable narrator and suggests that none of this ever happened, which I wish was true.

Yeah I don’t like this, if you couldn’t tell. Wilson is the only other character in the war story and he’s treated terribly by the narrative, it isn’t even shown if he died or not. The missions are straight forward enough though, and aren’t unpleasant though.

Next up is Avanti Savoia, the infamous power armour part. You play Italian shock trooper Luca Vincenzo Cocchiola, who wears metal armour that acts as power armour. Once you get past the initial ‘oh come on’ factor of this it isn’t bad. It’s not great though, in part due to some technical issues that I’ll get to.

This is framed as a story being told by Luca to his daughter about how his twin brother, Matteo, died. Interestingly this did take something out of it. In Through Mud and Blood I knew how it’d end, it was inevitable, there would be no happy endings, but I hoped for one anyway. In this I didn’t have the same experience. It wasn’t a matter of ‘will it be okay?’, it’s ‘how will this go wrong?’

Luca fights through the enemy lines while Matteo fights on the fronts in the valley below, initially it’s successful, Luca pushes through the lines, destroys artillery, and achieves his objective. In an attempt to stop the Italian forces in the valley the defenders bomb the mountain, causing a landslide. Luca’s armour becomes damaged and he removes it to rush into the valley to find his brother, there he finds death and devastation, men so damaged by what they’ve seen that they just stare into space– or, wait, I think the AI just broke. Yeah this is where the technical issues come in. The AI just stopped. Enemies just stood around, except for one flamer enemy who torched me when I got close, killing me. When I respawned they worked again but not well. Some still seemed to have their AI disabled. I don’t know if this bug is common but it was pretty massively disruptive.

Pushing past that though, Luca fights his way through the front and into the German fort, eventually coming across his brother’s corpse. The closing subtitles explain The Lost Generation.

This is very short and not very good.

The fourth war story is The Runner. You play Frederic Bishop, an ANZAC at Gallipoli. He’s introduced to Jack Foster, his new charge who lied about his age to get into the army. Bishop spends much of the game doing things and risking his life to protect Foster. You first storm the beach to capture an enemy position, you’re successful but discover that Foster has followed you. Bishop berates him for his belief that war is glorious and Foster becomes sickened by the carnage.

The next day Bishop again volunteers for a mission to protect Foster, he delivers a message to HQ, and on his return is saved by Foster who shoots an Ottoman soldier. He’s then sent by British officer Whitehall to deliver another message to rear command, when he arrives he finds it deserted with a note explaining that a full retreat has been ordered and that the area will be shelled to cover retreat. He rushes back only to find that Foster volunteered to attack the fort and is missing. Whitehall tells him to ignore the retreat to go after Foster, however he’s clearly distressed that he just sent all those soldiers into friendly fire. He makes his way up to the fort and finds Foster along with the other soldiers hiding with wounded. He tells them that the shelling is imminent but Foster says that they won’t be able to make it with their wounded, so Bishop attacks the fort on his own to draw their attention, telling Foster to fire a flare once he’s clear so that Bishop can escape. In the process of this, Frederick is mortally wounded. He climbs to the battlements and watches for the flare, hoping that Foster has made it.

The flare is fired and the artillery follows shortly after. Frederick Bishop is killed.

The Ottomans won, many of the people who fought in the campaign went on to become leaders of the Republic of Turkey. For Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand, Gallipoli was formative in their national consciousness. It was the first time that Australian and New Zealand forces fought under their own flags.

There’s not a lot to say about this one honestly. It’s rather short, but it’s well done. It does a lot with very few characters, and they’re all good characters. Bishop’s death is effective, I wish they’d done more with Foster. He doesn’t have much character beyond being naive.

The fifth and final story is Nothing is Written, you play Zara Ghufran, a Bedouin rebel fighting the Ottomans in Arabia with T. E. Lawrence. An Ottoman train carrying important cargo derails in the desert, and Zara is tasked with getting that cargo. She succeeds and obtains the code book, but soldiers arrive, lead by Ottoman officer Tilkici. She’s saved by Lawrence and other rebels. They decide to interrogate Tilkici for information regarding the armoured train Canavar, and how to lure it into a trap.

They discover that to lure it they need to get three message capsules from three officers to send to it via pigeon. As Zara is sending the third she’s attacked by Tilkici, who escaped from Lawrence and knowing the location of the camp, has it attacked. He prepares to execute her but she kills him before he can. Zara meets with Lawrence, who escape the camp before it could be attacked. It turns out that this was all a waste, because the Canavar has to stop for supplies, leaving it vulnerable, and a plan is made to attack it when it does, trapping it by damaging it with explosives. You then fight the train using various field guns to shoot at it while it rains artillery and machine gun fire on you.

Zara and Lawrence move on to the Suez Canal to strike at targets there. The subtitle informs you that the British reneged on their promise of a free Arabia.

And that’s pretty much it. Overall the stories are very solid, the gameplay can get grating at times. The final sequence of Nothing is Written is especially frustrating, with the train firing instant death at you if it holds line of sight for long enough. Other than a few frustrating parts it’s somewhat easy. I played on medium difficulty. The AI is lacking, especially when you use long range silenced weapons. I noticed a few bugs but nothing overly bad.

The graphics are very impressive, my PS4 was pumping superheated air out the back the entire time I was playing. The environment design is very visually nice, but lacking in terms of layout. It’s mostly just generic lanes of progression with similar sets of enemies. That said the core gameplay loop and gamefeel are solid enough that this isn’t too bad.

I’d comment on the multiplayer but I got a PS4 copy, and I have to pay extra to play online, and frankly fuck that.

This review has mostly been me trying to get around my writers block for finishing my MoH review series with Vanguard. It has proven to be hard to write about, so look forward to that one up next!

If you like these reviews and want to support me, I have a Patreon and a Ko-Fi. I also have a Discord if you’d just like to talk video games with me.

Medal of Honor: Rising Sun: Affix Bayonets

Medal of Honor Rising Sun case

Medal of Honor: Frontline may have been the critical darling and the first to be mentioned in ‘top 6th generation console games’, but Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is many people’s favourite too. In fact, I preferred Rising Sun as a kid. I’m not sure why, honestly. Though the opening is a strong reason. Most people who played it will say that it’s a fantastic opening (And it is but we’ll get back to that), but I was surprised to learn that Rising Sun was savaged by critics back in 2003, with a Metacritic of 68%. EuroGamer gave it a 4/10, praising the rest of EA and commenting on the game, “The difference in quality sticks out like J-Lo’s ass after a particularly intense course of collagen injections.” [1].

But now for an info dump. Because I like info dumps. Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is the sequel to Medal of Honor: Frontline. It’s the 5th game in the series (7th if you include expansions to Allied Assault), and the 3rd for consoles. It was released in 2003 for the Playstation 2, GameCube, and Xbox. I’m reviewing the Playstation 2 version here. Originally they planned a sequel, but Rising Sun received pretty poor reviews, and it was canned. The next game on consoles was European Assault instead.

EA Los Angeles decided to move from the somewhat overdone European theater of World War 2 and instead focus on the Pacific. Few games really focused on that, perhaps because gunning down Nazis is easier on the sense of morals. 


To give some background to me, I grew up in and still live in the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Darwin was attacked by the Japanese and growing up I saw a lot of the legacy of that. Old bunkers, the East Point shore guns, the War Museum. One of my favourite books as a kid was The Bombing of Darwin, about a fourteen year old boy living in the city at the time. It’s weird, but growing up I felt that the Pacific theater was more relevant to me, despite having obviously ended sixty years prior.

Back to the game. 

Rising Sun has a very strong opening, most are familiar with it, if you aren’t I don’t want to spoil it. Suffice to say the emotional impact and coolness is the same as it was when I played it as a kid. It’s hard to really describe it. If you’ve played it (and since this is a decades old game, most people reading this will have played it), you know it and you know how it made you feel. It has aged well. The controls are a bit stiff, it can be hard to hit the planes and the opening turret section goes on a bit long, but other than that it’s good.

There are save points scattered around the levels along with autosaves at certain points, which is a very welcome change to Frontline’s lack of any mid-level saving. This makes the difficulty spikes slightly more tolerable, because you won’t have to reply levels over and over, just the part giving you issues, but the save points can be hidden.

The engine is the same and it very much plays the same, the graphics have mildly improved, the textures are a bit less muddy though the low resolution (by today’s standards anyway) makes it hard to tell. Ultimately the biggest issue with the graphics is the resolution, so if you’re running this on an emulator you can boost that up and improve things a lot. I’m running it on original hardware because I’m a horrible hipster, and it is noticeable. The muddiness often makes it hard to see enemies, since their uniforms usually blend in well. The 3rd level is a night level and this is even more of an issue there. On top of this there’s quite a bit of blur. If you have issues with eye strain this probably isn’t the game for you.

You can see your stats at any time in the pause menu, if you need groin shot counts on the fly. You can also view briefing info and historical info about each mission. What got me into these games as a kid was the historical things. Newsreel footage, narration, all that, so this is a nice touch.

They added a crosshair that’s displayed at all times but it’s basically just a visual thing. The guns don’t feel like they’re actually pointed at it. Like Frontline, the guns are laughably inaccurate. This feels a lot worse when there’s a crosshair. The bullets stray massively off the path you’d expect, and they can miss at near point blank range. This is pretty annoying, and impacts the gameplay quite a bit.

The enemy AI is just as brain dead as it was in Frontline. They made some ‘improvements’ to try and hide this. The AI is much more active, they’ll go prone while shooting from range, which makes them a lot harder to hit largely due to how hard it is to see them like that, but also due to the extreme inaccuracy of the guns I mentioned earlier. They’ll also perform banzai charges, they’re generally much more effective than Frontline’s AI when in melee range. The banzai charges are not a sign of a good AI but in a way they hide the poor quality. These charges don’t tend to be challenging on their own, they’re only an issue due to the issues with aiming that this game has. Overall it’s clear that small improvements were made but they simply aren’t enough to make the AI more than a passing challenge.

You also have friendly AI partners now, but they’re as brain dead as the enemy AI. They sometimes get kills but usually just act as bullet sponges for the enemies, along with shouting at you to follow them while staring at you and waiting for you to move so they can follow you.

Speaking of the AI, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, the game spawns enemies a lot. If you use a turret, the game will spawn enemies and send them at you. I guess this is meant to be dramatic or cinematic. Sometimes it just spawns enemies in rooms you just cleared. This feels cheap but I think it’s meant to evoke the feeling of being in hostile lands. The enemy lying in wait for you and surprising you. This would be more effective if you could actually see some of these enemies in their hiding spots(which you can in their covered foxholes, if you look close enough), but you just can’t. It’s a cheap way to do this.

By the time Rising Sun came out it’s clear that the game engine was struggling. Some elements, such as the caves seen in many levels, would be at home on the Playstation 1. You can see the seams in the game’s terrain on many occasions.

There are some bugs too, the biggest one I encountered was on mission four. An NPC was meant to lead me into a secret door to a cave, but after opening the door he just stood there and never went in. Since he never went in he couldn’t trigger the next scripted sequence, this would have softlocked the game, but after standing there for a minute or so he just teleported ahead and triggered the next sequence which was likely on a timer. It’s good that the game’s scripting failed gracefully, but it still shouldn’t be failing.

The level design has some improvements, the levels are much more sprawling than they were in Frontline but this isn’t always a good thing. Everything typically looks the same so it’s very easy to get lost and disoriented, especially in the dense jungle levels. There’s also a lot of reliance on turret sections, which at the time weren’t nearly as common as they can be in modern first person shooters. They’re rarely fun and usually out of place. The levels have a lot more verticality, which is nice, but it’s usually badly implemented or just pointless.

On the topic of guns, the non-mounted variety have no real improvement over Frontline. The selection is slightly different. The silenced pistol has been replaced with the Welrod, a single shot gun that’s actually useful due to its ability to one hit kill enemies. It isn’t affected by range at all and it’s probably the most accurate gun in the entire game. The change to the Pacific theater could have given opportunities to explore Japanese guns, there are some LMGs to use, but they’re basically the same as the other guns.

Early on you’re largely limited to the M1 Garand and M1911 pistol, later you get a wider selection but it has a habit of only giving you a Sten MKII, which sounds about the same as a Nerf gun and has an effectiveness to match. Sometimes it’ll grace you with a Thompson that’s largely useless due to the extreme inaccuracy. It takes until the games 5th mission to be given a new gun, the Welrod, and the 6th to be given a shotgun. The selection opens up around that point, but it’s quickly back to a limited set of guns, and never the fun ones.

Rising Sun does pass the shotgun test. It’s a sign of a good shooter that the shotguns are fun to use. The Trench Gun is amazing to use. It’s satisfying to clear through dense jungle or tight corridors with it, and this time you’re given ample ammunition for it. The game’s last mission — A tight aircraft carrier level — would be a great place for a shotgunfest, but instead you get the Sten MKII. Boo.

Ultimately the gameplay is basically the same as Frontline, and that’s not a great thing. Instead of European towns — where you can’t see anything — filled with Nazis who stand in place and shoot, you’re fighting through jungles — where you can’t see anything — filled with Japanese who take cover and shoot but sometimes pull a sword out and charge at you. The trees are not only speaking Japanese, they’re screaming “banzai!” with annoying frequency.

It seems that maybe EA LA got Imperial Japan mixed up with the Imperium of Man and decided to have the Guardsmen affix bayonets at every opportunity, that’s when they aren’t pulling out katanas and charging you with those. This portrayal of the Japanese is sketchy at best. Banzai charges are a real thing, yes, but they were used as a last ditch attempt to turn the tide of a losing battle, not against one guy with a shotgun.

Rising Sun lacks Frontline’s war movie charm, though it tries. The story isn’t great, and ends on a sequel hook for a game that never happened. The characters aren’t that interesting, and character deaths are pulled out far too often to be effective. The animations aren’t even as good, maybe they tweaked the rates because a lot of the animations are the same but the fun animations that I liked so much from Frontline aren’t anywhere to be seen. The music is a downgrade too. It’s hard to explain why but it has far less impact. While there are a few nice moments where that war movie charm shined through, most of it was just a dull slog. If Frontline is the midday Sunday war movie, then Rising Sun is the weird sitcom that follows that you’re half asleep through. It’s not unenjoyable, but it’s not exactly memorable.

While the exploration of the less commonly seen Pacific theater is an interesting change, Medal of Honor: Rising Sun simply doesn’t live up to Frontline. By this point Call of Duty had released to critical acclaim, which certainly didn’t help Rising Sun’s chances. Its failure led to the cancellation of its planned sequel, instead being followed by Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault for PC. While Pacific Assault did perform better, it’s clear that the franchise had been surpassed by Call of Duty, which was rapidly becoming the massive franchise that it is today.

This is the second review in my series covering PS2 Medal of Honor games, next is European Assault. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you look forward to the next review.

If you like these reviews and want to support me, I have a Patreon and a Ko-Fi. One Playstation 2 game is pretty cheap, and I do take requests, so if you do donate feel free to suggest a game to review in the message. I also have a Discord if you’d just like to talk retro games.

V8 Supercars Australia Race Driver 2 aka TOCA Race Driver 2 aka DTS Race Driver 2 Review

Bhaalgorn (Kitten) inspects a copy of the game.

V8 Supercars Race Driver 2 aka TOCA Race Driver 2 aka DTS Race Driver 2 is a 2004 racing game by Codemasters and the 5th entry in the TOCA series of racing games, it’s the second of the Car-PG style with a character and a story. It’s not a very good story. It was released for Windows, Xbox, Playstation 2, Playstation Portable (Twice, two years after original release) and mobile devices, because 2004 was a strange time. I’m reviewing the Playstation 2 version here. I never played this one as a kid like I did with the first, and I think that might be why I like the first one so much more. Yeah that kinda gives things away early on doesn’t it?

Let’s start with the changes. Gone is the car tuning system. Admittedly I never really used this, it felt somewhat pointless most of the time, but it was a nice thing to have for the enthusiasts. You can’t do test drives either, but you can restart during races, so you don’t really need to get familiar with a map before racing it. The car damage system is different. Instead of a diagram of your car showing the damage to each part, it’s now just a set of lights that change colour. This is a pretty big downgrade to usability. In the first game you knew which wheels were damaged, in this one you just know that a wheel is damaged and won’t know which until it explodes and you have to restart. The replay system remains, but now you can save replays, which is nice. 

The graphics have improved slightly, but this game was released in 2004. The Playstation 2 version suffers from the same issues that most Playstation 2 games have, loads of jaggies from the lack of anti-aliasing and a relatively low resolution. If you play it on an emulator this won’t be an issue of course, and it’ll look much nicer, but if you’re a strange collector like me you’ll want to run it on original hardware. I’m just using an up-scaler and it looks pretty good despite the jagged edges on everything. The map backgrounds are much more detailed than they were in the first game, but I can’t speak for the accuracy of them. It has Hidden Valley, which I live near and have been to a few times, and it isn’t surrounded by rolling green hills. It’s surrounded by dirt. They do pretty it up for the V8s though, from what I remember anyway. There’s also none of the stands or anything like that. I guess they just used a generic background, which is unfortunate. Having accurate backgrounds could add a lot to the character of the tracks. 

The car physics are similar in a way but definitely different. I don’t know if they’re better. Sometimes it feels like my car is floating above the road and sliding all around. Sliding is a theme in this game. There’s a lot of sliding. The devs decided that to stop players from cutting corners and having fun, they’d make the gravel and grass cause your car to abruptly turn right. I can only really describe this as intensely lame. There’s nothing worse than taking a corner a bit too wide and touching the grass only to instantly spin out of control. There’s no way to get back up to speed fast enough to not end up in last place too. It’s just straight up un fun. Some cars are better than others in terms of handling though, so it won’t be as much an issue. Unfortunately some choice choices were made that amplify this problem.

In the first Race Driver you had to advance through a set of championships to progress, but you could do them in whatever order you want, and if you performed badly it was fine, you’d get another offer with a different car that maybe suited you better. Race Driver 2 on the other hand is much more linear. You pick from two championships, and then once you beat that or give up and do the other, you get one option and you have to finish that championship in that car to progress. So if that car handles like shit you just have to bear with it till you win. No alternate car options for you. You’ll be restarting a lot. Like.. A lot.

The AI is slightly better, in that it’s worse. It seems more human, and is much more prone to imperfect play. This is a great upgrade, but it seems to work in tiers, so the cars at the back are usually the lowest tier of AI and are pretty shitty. They take corners slowly, almost coming to a complete stop on some bends, and are slow to recover if they crash. The higher tier on the other hand plays much better, which is actually a problem. They play too well, and overtaking them gets pretty hard. The irish guy (I’m sure he has a name but I don’t remember it) has a bunch of radio call outs based on how you’re doing or who’s behind you. He’ll call them out by name, which is neat.

There’s a larger variety of cars available, from Formula 1 to big rig trucks, but it’s clear that the physics isn’t meant for this. The trucks are just boring, they feel weighty but they’re just not as fun as they sound. The Formula 1 cars handle poorly, and they’re dummy thicc, which can make it hard to overtake the cars since the clap of your wheels keeps making the physics break. If the wheels come into contact with another car things go strange and you fly across the track. Some of the cars also make annoying noises, one in particular making a high pitched hissing noise whenever I accelerated. 

It’s a lot harder to recommend Race Driver 2 than it was for the first game. There’s a lot wrong here and not many improvements. The only noticeable improvement is the graphics, and that the main character has no face or voice now. Massive improvement in that regard. There is a story, but it’s really not interesting enough to mention beyond the fact that your character doesn’t talk. Car-PG is a fun term, but this isn’t an RPG. It’s a racing game, and as far as racing games go it’s a thoroughly decent one. 

If you like these reviews and want to support me, I have a Patreon and a Ko-Fi. One Playstation 2 game is pretty cheap, and I do take requests, so if you do donate feel free to suggest a game to review in the message. I also have a Discord if you’d just like to talk retro games.