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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Game Review:Corvette Evolution GT

Limited budget kills the unrealised potential.



The Good:
Sleek interface * Decent number of options available * Handling of each car feels unique and the steering, tight * Track details and features are impressive * Commendable track design

The Bad:
Visuals could have been better * Cars disappearing for a split second * Short draw distance means that you may have to rely on mini-map to anticipate turns * Difficulty levels are ignorable * Lack of online multiplayer

The DS is becoming an increasingly popular platform for new developers to create games for, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that a huge budget isn’t really needed to produce a DS game and that the DS already has a huge ready-made market of both casual and hardcore gamers. Island Racing Studios is one such new developer. Its maiden game: Corvette Evolution GT. Judging from its price, this game doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that it is made on a shoe-string budget. However, it did manage to pop in a few wonders and provide a respectable racing experience.

Corvette Evolution GT, while understandably a budget title, isn’t some crap like Offroad Extreme Special Edition or Mini Desktop Racing that Data Design Interactive constantly puts out on the Wii. In fact, this game has all the makings of a DS-game-of-the-year, but the restrictions of a tight budget are demonstrated coherently in this game – and it expectedly ends up falling short in a few areas. That is not to say Island Racing Studios hasn’t done a good job – which it did – by skillfully maximizing the limited funds available.

Right off the bat, you will be amazed by the sleek interface and the options that are available. The single-player mode consists of your typical career mode, quick race and time trials modes, while there is also the option of wireless play for 4 persons, though online multiplayer is suspiciously missing. The selection of cars, while not very wide, is enough. Licensed cars from Audi, Mercedes, TVR and Opel among other brands are available. The handling of the cars is intelligibly independent of each other and overall, the steering feels tight; you won’t feel as if you are driving on the moon like in Asphalt: Urban GT 2.

The number of tracks available is also decent. But what impresses me more are the track details. With tracks hailing from different cities around the world like London, Milan and Barcelona, there is a need to make each track as lively and unique as possible – and that has been accomplished with the fantastic varieties of buildings and other features that populate the environs of each track as you race down the streets of the many cities. I am surprised that I am even able to say this: The track details and features here betters last year’s Race Driver: Create and Race from Codemasters, which was backed by a bigger budget. The said are further complemented by the equally, if not more, competent track design. There is quite an amount of challenging sharp turns to be had in this game and they are implemented with much thought into the various tracks. However, the visual engine powering Corvette Evolution GT certainly does the tracks no favors as the textures feel somewhat muddled – for most parts, they are fine, but again, all could have been better if not for the limited budget.

For all the impressive track details and features, something has to go. And the questionable technical issues instantly come to mind. You will encounter moments where cars disappear for a split second, but what’s more severe is the short draw distance. I have experienced quite a few times where I didn’t know there was a turn ahead until it was too late – turn-signaling signs would suddenly pop out of nowhere in my foreground. It was bad to the extent that I had to refer to the mini-map on the bottom screen to anticipate turns! This problem only occurs for some tracks, though, or more specifically, tracks which have sharp turns after long straight stretches. While this isn’t a total game breaking flaw, it remains a technical shortcoming that will ruin your racing experience to a significant extent.

The other thing that has it going against this racer is the difficulty. There are 4 difficulty levels, but none of which feels particularly challenging. There seems to be guarantee in the game that you will definitely attain 1st in every race – and that by pulling way ahead of the pack by the 2nd lap. This is one game that has really negligible A.I. controlled opponents. Jump in to some wireless play instead after you have completed the career mode.

Final Comments
Corvette Evolution GT is a budget racer, but you can’t expect many funds to be available to a first-time developer, right? But the developer certainly makes full and good use of its limited budget. Needless to say, this game has lots of unrealized potential – the graphics could have been better, the technical shortcomings, solved and the A.I., improved. Unfortunately, a budget title can only go this far.


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