Shin Force | Sega Dreamcast Review
Shin Force
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Shin Force ~ Dreamcast ~
 Shutokou Battle 2 / Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2
Genki (Japan)
Crave (USA)
Jun. 21, 2000 (Japan)
Aug. 02, 2000 (USA)
1st/3rd Person
Backup 40
Racing Wheel
         > A lot of people don't know this, but Saturn had two iterations of Shutokou Battle.  The first, called Highway 2000, was released in America while the second, Syutokoh Battle '97, was not.  Genki got right to work on the Dreamcast as they produced Shutokou Battle, aka Tokyo Xtreme Racer in America, last year to rave reviews.  Although Shutokou Battle 2 (SB2) retains the same basic gameplay as the first Dreamcast version, Genki added new eye candy, plus more of everything else.  For newcomers, the object is to race versus rivals in order to unlock, upgrade, and buy new cars...
         > If you're considering the import version, then go ahead.  All the menus are in English while the descriptions are in Japanese.  You'll have no problem playing at all.  Otherwise, the US version is slated for early August, which is right around the corner.  Any changes and/or upgrades to the US version are unknown, but I'll update this review to reflect anything I find out.
         > Genki has learned a lot in the last year and a half.  It's easier to just explain what's been added, deleted, and left alone -- so here goes.  Genki added: much fancier animated light reflections to the cars; more complex car models; 2 new views; better textures; an inexplicable 1 second pause at some junctions (probably loading).  Genki only deleted the lens flares.  Lastly, Genki left alone the 60fps and occasional slowdown.  I think, overall, that SB2 looks about 30% better than SB1.  It's harder to differentiate the two when playing on a TV, but while utilizing a VGA Box, you can't miss it.
         > To refresh your memory, SB1 had a 1st and 3rd person view.  SB2 adds a closer behind view and a far back/high view.  What I really wanted was the behind view, only at a 3-5 feet higher perspective.  Oh well, maybe SB3?  Anyway, each view has a situation which makes it preferable.  For instance, the far back/above view is handy for the long straight-aways because you can see further ahead.
         > I'm amazed at how realistic SB2's cars look.  I mean, were talking stuff the Dreamcast "isn't supposed to do" quality.  It's pretty hard to see the polygons any more.  Also, the streets of Tokyo only look better in real life.  Genki has done an excellent job of modeling a complex highway system with road markings, signs, ramps, bridges, buildings, etc. 
         > For the most part, SB2 controls just like the first one.  There is one major difference.  You can't bounce off the walls in SB2 like you can in SB1.  When you do it now, you get a double whammy.  First, you lose quit a bit of momentum.  Second, you lose SP points while racing a rival (0 SP=you lose).  Other than that, the control maintains a nice mixture of realism and arcade feel.
         The lone wolf rivals in SB2 are plentiful and have a name, Wanderer.  Beating these guys always yields big dough and possibly a new car to buy!  One more thing, since the entire course is interconnected, you can actually race the entire length in forward and reverse direction within the same game "night".
         > SB2's music is on par with SB1.  It's a combination of pop-rock and techno which suits the action well.  I can imagine better racing music ("Daytona..."), but this will do fine.
         > The sound effects are essentially unchanged (which is very good).  The engines sound slightly different and you can hear the turbo -- not much else is new or different.
         > The developer boasts 60 car types and over 300 cars in all.  SB2's courses are about 180km long as compared to SB1's 30km course.  It' a one player game now -- I guess Genki couldn't get the frame rate high enough in versus mode.  Choose from Quest, Quick Race, TIme Attack, and Free Run modes.  The coolest thing about this series is that no matter how fast a rival is, you can still beat him using the correct strategy (a little bit of luck does wonders too).  Trust me, it's going to take you a long time to beat all 372 rivals!  It sure is worth the effort though...
     > Shutokou Battle 2 is an excellent sequel -- more of the same great game.  It's not perfect, however, as it still has occasional slowdown.  The enhanced graphics and additional features make up for that though.  If you liked the first one, then you're sure to love SB2.  If you weren't sold on the first one, then SB2 probably isn't going to change your mind...
Overall: 9.0 | Graphics: 9.7 | Control: 8.9 | Sound: 8.5 | Fun: 9.0
~ Shinobi ~