Remember the first time you ever played WIPEOUT? The incredible sense of speed and G forces was a defining moment for the racing genre. While that series may have faded somewhat, Sony is taking a jab at the high-speed futuristic racing arena with KINETICA.
Imagine you are wearing a suit that lets you travel at high velocities and survive incredible wrecks. Then imagine this same suit has a magnetic force of some sort to keep you attached to buildings or whatever else you're racing on. And finally, imagine that you can attempt some serious stunts while airborne. Done? Welcome to KINETICA.
While it all may seem wild and unrealistic, KINETICA is a lot of fun to play. You pick a racer and then go through the different modes (all your typical fare). The tracks are winding and you can very quickly change directions or go flying off a ramp onto another building surface. There're some shortcuts to be found along with power-ups (again, typical racing game additions) along with boosts which can also be obtained by doing stunts in midair.
That's the good and now for the bad. First of all, the framerate can kill the sense of speed. While most of the time it works, putting the pack of competitors on the screen can slow things down. Another problem is track design. It'd be really cool if you knew which way was up, but it's very easy to forget as you're lost in a bunch of buildings (Am I going around it? Up it? Down it?). So all the cool gravity-defying jumps and stuff quickly grow stale. The enemy AI seems a little stale at times too; I found the game to be somewhat easy.
On the graphics side, there's a ton of eye-candy and the game looks spectacular. There are tons of different textures and effects and this game looks SHARP. But the framerate slowdown is too much to bear at times as it really takes you out of the race.
On the audio side, there are engine noises and techno music. As a big fan of techno and the fact that it is a futuristic game, the music fits perfectly for me. The sound effects also make the grade, but they're nothing spectacular.
KINETICA is a great futuristic racer that has a few shortcomings. While the core of the game is pretty bland, the trick system is excellent. Diehard fans of WIPEOUT will want to pick it up, but everybody else should rent first.
Platform: Playstation 2
ESBR Rating: Teen
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: B+
Reviewer's Wild Card: B+