Shin Force | Sega Dreamcast Review
Shin Force
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Shin Force ~ Dreamcast ~
 Super Speed Racing / Flag To Flag
Sega Sports
Mar 22, 1999 (Japan)
Sep 9, 1999 (USA)
Multi 1st/3rd
Backup 12
Racing Wheel
         > Without a doubt, Sega makes some of the best racing games on Earth.  Their latest effort is titled Super Speed Racing (SSR) (Flag To Flag in USA) and features a CART license, 27 real drivers, and 19 real courses.  You'll race in places like Cleveland and Monterey with drivers like Alex Zanardi and Bobby Rahal.  The main focus of the game is to be a simulation, but the Arcade mode provides quick racing action if desired.
         > The object, obviously, is to win races.  There are a plethora of options to pick from, but they don't seem to bog you down like some simulations.  For instance, in Championship mode you can practice, set race length (5%-100%), change car settings (6 types), set options (weather, cautions, damage, corner warnings), qualify, and race.  Naturally, you can pit in during races as well.
         > The import SSR might as well be the American version as all the menus, game screens, options, and voice are in English.  Of course racing games are inherently easy to import too.  Anyway, SSR has arrived in America as Flag To Flag and is essentially unchanged...
         > Of course SSR is presented in polygon 3D beauty courtesy of Sega.  All 19 courses are realistic from terrain to course layout to scenery.  The two player mode is the usual split horizontal screen.  The game almost always moves smooth and fast, but occasionally the frames drop off when the scenery is intensive and/or there are a lot of cars going around a corner.  It's definitely not perfect but it's surely beautiful to watch and a joy to play.
         > You get five views in the game: nose, driver, behind driver, behind car, and behind car (far).  Each view is realistic in every way.  For instance, in the driver view you'll see debris build up on your visor which the driver automatically wipes off when it gets too obstructive.  Each view has a functional rear view mirror with the driver views using the actual mirrors on the car.
         > The scenery is detailed and the cars shine like freshly polished diamonds.  You'll see things like flags waving, trees, buildings, helicopters, airplanes, grandstands, billboards, and Firestone whitewall tires on your car.  Actually, you'll see real names on all the ads both on billboards and the cars.  When it rains, you'll see raindrops and vapor trails from the cars.  Overall, SSR is not quite as pretty as Monaco Grand Prix because many CART tracks aren't as complicated as Formula 1 tracks.
         > Naturally, Sega provides gameplayers with a highly playable game for all ages.  The buttons are brake, accel, view change, shift up/down and steering (various configurations are available).  SSR has just the right combination of arcade feel and simulation reality.  At first, the fact that your car instantly slows to a crawl when you go off course can seem bothersome.  However, I think this is good because it keeps you from using the grass for short cuts.  The game controls very well with the analog pad even though the racing wheel is the device of choice.
         > The music is mostly pop rock with plenty of guitar licks to keep you listening.  However, this is a racing simulation so I prefer the sound effects.  As a result, I turn the music off.
         > The sound effects are excellent.  You'll hear realistic engine noise, cars crashing, tires skidding, and cars passing.  English voice cues grace the game throughout as well.  One quirk is the fact that when you skid, the effect sometimes takes a long time to shut off.
         > Even though I prefer Formula 1 tracks overall, SSR has just the perfect mix of arcade and simulation to keep me interested.  The game never gets bogged down with options even though there are lots of them.  Race length is 3 laps in Arcade mode while you can set it from 5%-100% in Championship mode.  Watching your favorite replays later and comparing scores/times is just a matter of available backup memory.  With Arcade and Championship modes to play plus a CART license, SSR is the formula racer of choice (we'll see if Video System's F1 racer can surpass it within weeks).
     > With excellent speed, control, and smooth graphics, Super Speed Racing/Flag To Flag is better than Monaco Grand Prix.  Actually, SSR is easily the best CART racing sim you can buy.  Arcade fans should pick up Sega Rally 2 first...  Simulation fans should pick up SSR first...
Overall: 9.2 | Graphics: 9.4 | Control: 9.6 | Sound: 9.0 | Fun: 8.8
~ Shinobi ~

Note: These are all gameplay screens, not CG cut-scenes.