There are not too many fast motorcycle racers out for the Xbox console, but one title that may need your craving for a fast cycle racer through crowded streets is Speed Kings from Acclaim.
Players have the option of choosing over 20 different bikes and then racing them through some interactive street levels complete with traffic, obstacles, and radical jumps. Feel the need for some speed? Strap in and take Speed Kings for a spin then.
The Xbox does a remarkabl… job at handling textures and framerates and nowhere is that more prevalent than in Speed Kings. The framerate moves along at a healthy clip thanks to the beefy graphics engine under the Xbox hood, and the colors, and textures are bright and smooth.
Since the entire premise of the title is racing through crowded city streets, the traffic and vehicles you will invariably meet up with on a tight corner are well modeled and move fairly smooth. Most of the objects in the game display a good number on the poly count and riders all the way down to the individual bikes they ride look pretty good. Sunlight, shadows, buildings, and atmospheric effects also are all done satisfactory in Speed Kings.
Encompassing some radical tunes and good sound effects, Speed Kings does pretty good in the audio department. As with many Xbox titles out on the market these days, the inclusion of Dolby Digital adds realism to the game when your Xbox is hooked through a Home Theater.
The other cool audio feature Speed Kings sports is the ability to let you rip any track off of a CD you have in your collection and then use a custom soundtrack saved on the Xbox hard drive to include as the soundtrack in the game. Although the Custom Soundtrack may not be an entirely new feature to Xbox owners, it is starting to show up in more titles, and as such, it adds a little more playability to the game overall.
Racing, racing, and more racing is what awaits you when you boot up Speed Kings in your Xbox. The front end menu selection is laid out fairly well and is easy for players to select a quick single player race, or a multiplayer match.
Once a race is selected, players move on to the bike selection screen where model (22 complete bikes in all), color, and even leather gear (licensed by Alpinstars and Shoei) can be changed and selected. Out on the track, players assume the position in line and the race begins.
Although the box cover for Speed Kings proclaims that it is true “Arcade style” racer, this is one time where a pair of handle bar controls like those seen on the arcade machines would come in handy. Steering with the Xbox Analog stick leaves much to be desired and can only be summed up as sloppy most of the time. This leads to some spectacular crashes out on the course and some Smashed Controller Syndrome in your room. The damage may end up being real to your controller and in the game your bike and rider will show real time signs of abuse from the head on collisions.
There are tricks that can be used while racing to knock seconds off the clock–moves like the Skid, the Wheelie, and the Jump–but if you can get through a race without eating pavement, then it could be said you are doing pretty well. You can even hammer away at other riders and knock them off their bikes in an attempt to get ahead in the race.
Speed Kings has five decent multiplayer features that let you and three of your buds get some racing action on. The three single player modes–Single, Meets, and Grand Prix–are all solid and offer some challenging play.
Visually smooth and quick, Speed Kings serves up some cool fun albeit a little clunky when it comes to control issues. Still, it’s a good rental to check out this summer.