Street Racing Syndicate

September 9, 2004

[floatleft][/floatleft]Street Racing Syndicate or SRS is the newest game in a genre of racing games that appeal to the street racing Fast and Furious group of gamers. Instead of focusing on just the racing aspect of the street racing scene, SRS encompasses the whole gamut of things from cash and respect to hooking up with beautiful ladies. When it comes to street racing SRS has it all, but is it all good?

When you start SRS you begin by creating your profile. From here you get to select which gametype you would like to play Street Mode, Arcade Mode, or Multiplayer. Multiplayer can be 2 person split screen, 2 to 4 players via system link, or you can jump online and enjoy SRS via Xbox Live. In system link you have a slew of different options to choose from. You can play a Quick Race, Collection Race where you the first person to collect more than 50% of the icons around the city wins, Team Collection Race where you play co-operatively with your team, Team Time Race where your team tries to score the best possible average time, Team Position Race where scores are awarded based on finishing positions, and Pink Slip Race where you put it all on the line. Losing a Pink Slip Race means your car is gone for good.

Arcade Mode also has a few different race types to choose from. Quick Race is a single one-off race event where each race is standalone. Checkpoint is a time based race where you must reach the next checkpoint in the time allocated. Iron Man is a series of progressively harder races. Damage to your car stays during Iron Man races and your Nitrous system doesn’t refill in between races so play it smart. Failure to finish first in an Iron Man race and you get to start over. Finally there is a Speed Trial that allows you to try and establish the best time for each course.

[floatright][/floatright]Aside from multiplayer you will probably spend the bulk of your time playing Street Mode. Street mode is the equivalent to franchise, story, or career mode in other games. The story starts you out as a member of a crew and one of your drivers Eddie got busted for street racing but someone has to drive his car in the LA Sanctioned Event. You decide to run the race and in turn split the cash. This cash is what you use to buy your first car with so you want to finish first. After the race you get sent to the Showroom to pick out your car. Aside from the races, there are a few key places you need to know about. The showroom is where you purchase new cars from, the garage is where you purchase upgrades (performance or cosmetic), repair your car if need be, and dyno it to see how those upgrades help you out. You will also spend some time in the warehouse which is where you store your large array of cars and hookup with your girlfriends.

The key aspects of Street Mode are similar to real life (street racing anyway): cash and respect. Cash is obviously used to buy cars and upgrades, pay for race entry fees, and wager on races. Respect is the measure of how the other drivers view you. It is a reputation meter if you will. During races you can earn respect by winning, impressing girls, or pulling off sweet driving maneuvers which can be strung together to add multipliers into the mix. There are a handful of ways to earn cash and respect in Street Mode. You can enter Street Challenges, Respect Challenges, Roll Up Races, Crew Meets, or Sanctioned Events. Sanctioned Events are free and have big prizes so they are good if you are low on cash. Street Challenges are where you challenge a rival driver that is just hanging around the city. Driving into their action circle will start the race. The rival driver sets the stakes and off you go. Respect Challenges are where potential girlfriends test your skills with special challenges. Complete them and you will have another girlfriend. Roll Up Races are races with cars driving around with a “Race Me” flag above them. Simply flash your lights at them and the stakes are set and its time to race. Finally Crew Meets are organized get-togethers in series format. These are more often than not illegal and can land you in big trouble with the law. Each crew runs a trio of series that each contains 3 races. Crew Meets have an ante before you can race so make sure you have some cash. These races are won on respect points accumulated over the 3 races. You can also place side bets with rival drivers at the beginning of each of the races.

SRS definitely has a vast array of gameplay options that are sure to keep you busy. I know the consensus so far has been that SRS was a sub par game and at first that was my opinion, but I am not so sure anymore. I spent a lot more time last night on the Arcade modes and had plenty of fun. I am not a fan of racing games in general and I am even less interested in street racing, but there was something alluring about SRS. I think my favorite thing overall was racing head to head with my wife and witnessing our extremely horrid driving skills in replay mode.

[floatleft][/floatleft]The graphics and scenery in SRS were really very nice. The environments were very detailed and the cars were very accurately reproduced. I didn’t really pay attention to the music in game aside from a few thuggish beats that were quickly lost on me and SRS lacks custom soundtracks so jamming out to my own selection was not an option.

The button layout for SRS was pretty self explanatory. Right trigger is gas, left trigger is brake/reverse. A is your hand brake, B is Nitrous, and X and Y handled up and down shifting. You can the white button change your viewpoint to first person or you have a few 3rd person perspectives. The right thumbstick can also be used to accelerate or brake instead of the triggers as well as the Dpad being used to steer instead of the left thumbstick. Pretty basic stuff that shouldn’t take more than a race or two to become familiar with.

After mulling it over for a while I think I have finally nailed down my true thoughts on SRS. I still think the addition of girlfriends in the game is retarded and serves no purpose aside from showing in game video of import models. The plethora of race modes adds a lot of variety to an otherwise plain game. The race modes don’t seem to be anything new and exciting and maybe that is why I feel so lukewarm about the game. While I think the level of customization and expansive list of cars you can obtain makes the game fun, I think it fails to deliver in the real meat of the game. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying SRS sucks because it doesn’t but it certainly isn’t worth $50. If I had to suggest a driving game to go out and buy today I would say Burnout 3 is more deserving of your cash.

[floatright][/floatright]SRS delivers a somewhat vanilla street racing experience that only seems to stand out by having girls in bikinis and other tight outfits play the role of your girlfriend(s). The game will no doubt appeal to its target audience of aspiring or current street racers, I think it fails to deliver a worthwhile driving experience to a broader range of gamers. If you are a fan of Midnight Club or NFS Underground and are looking for a fresh game then by all means give SRS a try, but don’t expect a groundbreaking title. If you are a casual race fan then SRS is probably not for you.

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.