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N.Gen Racing

I got this game and immediately thought, how the heck do you make a game that includes racing and planes? I was pleasantly surprised to find out that even though I lack imagination, Curly Monsters does not. They have added a new level or sublevel to the racing genre. The easy way too sum up the action in N.Gen would be to call it Gran Turismo 2 in a jet, but that is not all that it is. In Gran Turismo you couldn’t fire a missile up the tailpipe of the guy that just passed you. In N.Gen, if anyone has the power to pass you, you can pour chain gunfire into his or her plane. That makes the racing a bit more interesting. Strategically, would you rather be in the lead and taking fire from everyone, or should you hang in second place and fire at the idiot up front? I hang back. After enough cannon fire, the plane in first place does not fly any more. He cannot win the race if he is busy parachuting to safety. Of course, now you are the plane in front and have to ensure the new second placeman doesn’t have the same plan.

Included in the game are 14 racing circuits and 40 different jets, each one having different characteristics. The planes are broken up into four categories: Trainer, Fighter, S-Fighter, and X-Fighter. These are also the categories the races are broken into. All of the planes except the trainers have onboard weapons. The weapons include the cannon, targeting missiles, dumb fire rockets, and countermeasures. I wish that the game had reload spots, at least for the counter measures; they seemed to run out quickly in a two-player game.

I had a blast with this. The game play is addicting. When in multiplayer, I often found myself begging for just one more race. I would even promise my little brother (he is 6 feet 5 inches tall, but he will always be little to me) that I would not use missiles if I thought it would give me another chance to mow him down with the big gun. The single player mode is the same, but takes no begging. The gameplay is almost too much like GT2 (I keep referring to Gran Turismo 2 because everyone has played it, or should have. If not, what did you buy the Playstation for?). You have lots of races in each fighter category to run to make your plane fast and agile enough to win the category championship. At times, I developed a work ethic seldom seen in my life -- I would stay up and race just 'til I got the Level 3 Engine upgrade, then I had to have the Stage 3 Canards. What good is all that speed if you can’t turn? That would make you a dart, not a plane. So you can see how this game can quickly dominate your life.

Multiplayer mode is enhanced with a powerball-like game. You fly in an arena collecting the balls, then fly them into a structure. This makes for a nice change of pace but is not as much fun as the racing.

The lush graphics in N.Gen are pleasing to the eye and upsetting to the stomach. Don’t play this game if you are prone to motion sickness. From the leisurely speed of the training aircraft to the breakneck zoom of the X-Fighters, the graphics are smooth and well rendered. Flying over everything from water to desert hills, the terrain is almost amazingly good for the Playstation. Of course, as the Playstation has aged, game companies have done a fine job of stretching its hardware to the limit, and Curly Monsters is no exception. The visuals in N.Gen do have a strong resemblance to Wipeout, also from Curly Monsters, but that is not to say that they are dated. From the light reflections off of the jet canopies to the shadows on the ground, a lot of attention was paid to making the graphics top flight. I must also mention how much I enjoyed the detail on the structures in the game. Every time I slammed my lovingly maintained F-16 Sport into a bridge or column, I was forced to stop and marvel at how well they were drawn, once I got really, really close.

Matt Darey of Proof did the music for N.Gen...his fast-paced stylings are perfect for flying to. The music bears no semblance to what was in the movie “Iron Eagle”, but I couldn’t help remembering how the character played by Jason Gedrick thought good music could make you fly faster. At the time I saw the movie, I didn’t think that music could effect the laws of physics and make a plane move faster; now I am not so sure. I have gotten off of my point. My point is that the music is perfect for the game -- a fast techno groove.

On the other side of the sound are the effects. Not bad, but how do you tell? I have never flown a jet...I don’t know how they really sound. These jets sound like what I would equate with real jets. I know for sure I don’t want to find out if the sounds of the bullets piercing my hull are correct. The sound effects are good; I just felt like pointing out that I might not be an expert in this field.

Technically the game is near perfect. The only thing that I even remotely disliked was the menu system. I felt like there could have been fewer keystrokes to go into and out of the races. Other than that, nothing in this game is wrong.

Overall, this is a great game. It is going to spawn more Air Racers, I am sure. It will be interesting to see if Curly Monsters will update N.Gen or Wipeout on the Playstation 2.

NGen will spawn many duplicates.
Matt Deary lays down a great beat.
Even runs perfect in two player mode.
This is a top shelf title.

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Mike (MacEnder) Sutley
September 27, 2000
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