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Jun 1, 2001

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page


Mad Dash Racing

Crystal Dynamics



Fall 2001


Gex? Soul Reaver? Nope. Crystal Dynamics avoids releasing "more of the same" and develops something exciting and new for the Xbox.

Update: Oct 22, 2001

A new batch of screens, some added details and a new trailer all help to make our preview of the game that much better.

Eidos has published a wide range of titles over the years, both good and bad, successful and unsuccessful, ordinary and...well, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was anything but extraordinary. Eidos and Core Design firmly believe in the old saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." While that may work well most of the time, a little bit of "shaking things up" is called for every once in a while.

Fortunately, Core has absolutely nothing to do with Mad Dash Racing. Crystay Dynamics (Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2 and Gex: Enter the Gecko) is at the helm of what is promising to be one of the more unique titles for the launch of Microsoft's Xbox.

Mad Dash Racing isn't your typical racing game. You do not race cars, jet engines or speedboats. Instead, each one of the nine selectable characters uses his or her God-given vehicle known as "legs." Yes, this is a strange concept, we know, but it's a unique and intriguing one at that. One that the world hasn't seen since the days of Sonic R on the Sega Saturn.

Unlike Sega's said on-foot racer, Mad Dash Racing is gearing up to be more than just a "turn left here" and "turn right there" kind of game. Rather than simply taking away vehicles and making everything else exactly the same as every other racer out there, Mad Dash Racing features eight expansive, detailed worlds much different from those in Project Gotham.

Crystal Dynamics' goal is to achieve a platformer-like experience within an action-packed racing game. In an effort to achieve their goals, Mad Dash Racing will offer three unique classes of characters; Dashers, Bashers and Gliders. Depending on the type of character you choose the experience will vary, as each class will require you to take a different route and/or use a different strategy on each of the courses. Dashers will appease all you speed-freaks out there, offering a few boost abilities; Bashers can easily break through obstacles, such large crates that would prevent other characters from proceeding through that area; and Gliders do exactly what the name says -- they glide over obstacles, among other things.

The enormous worlds of Mad Dash Racing are filled with many different environments. From a volcano course overflowing with lava to an underwater pipe world that'll have you swimming with the fishies, as well as a tikki forest and an SSX-inspired ski resort covered in snow. This is where more of the platforming comes in, with ramps that send your character flying and several floating platforms to jump on, giving you the edge should your opponent miss the platform and fall off course.

Visually, Mad Dash Racing isn't going to compete with Munch's Oddysee, or DOA3, But it isn't trying to either. Its graphics are still impressive nonetheless. Real-time reflections will have you staring at your surroundings when you should be keeping your eyes on the task at hand, so don't make a habit of it or you'll be falling behind before long. In addition, the eight worlds are rendered very nicely and fly by at 30-40fps, while the lesser-populated worlds move at a consistent 60fps, which is Crystal Dynamics' goal for all eight of the courses. The Xbox certainly has the power to allow them to do it, let's hope they take advantage of it.

Crystal Dynamics says that you'll be able to "unlock and download secret characters and tracks." What this means exactly, we're not quite sure. This could mean that you'll simply download all of the game's unlocked goods into the Xbox's built-in hard drive (instead of downloading it to a memory card). Or this could mean that you'll be able to go online and download new characters and tracks from a special Web site. If that is the case, Crystal Dynamics could increase the replay value tremendously by offering something new to download every few weeks or so. Here's hoping the latter assumption is the correct assumption, but deep down, we feel the former is more likely what we'll get. This could be wishfull thinking as well, since Microsoft hasn't announced its online plans as of yet.

In a very Diddy Kong Racing-inspired move (we shudder at the thought of that game just as much as you do, but bear with me, this is a good thing), Mad Dash Racing will include at least two bosses you must defeat within the eight worlds. You'll need to use everything you've got when going up against them, especially the power-ups such as trip wires, rolling boulders and TNT. Most important though is that you find a quick and easy route to the finish line. Whether you win or lose, the bosses should provide a unique addition to Mad Dash Racing and (hopefully) offer even more entertainment and replay value to a game that already sounds and looks highly impressive.

Speaking of replay value, did we mention the multi-player mode? Up for four players can settle their differences over which was the best console at E3 (as if they didn't already know) in the game's split-screen mode. Plus, you'll be able to personalize your favorite character with a plethora of colors and status decals.

With more cartoony racing action than you can shake a stick at, a kickin' soundtrack, top line vocal talent, and some bad-ass attitude, Mad Dash Racing appears to be all that and a bag of chips. Look for Mad Dash Racing when you pick up your Xbox. It promises to entertain not only you, but your friends as well, assuming you have any.

Louis Bedigian
Wonders when Crystal Dynamics will announce Gex X.

Mad Dash Racing Movies
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