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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Street Trace: NYC

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A mixture of genres, Street Trace: NYC is a wild, somewhat uncontrollable Live Arcade effort. Fans of WipeOut will enjoy the racing; third person shooter fans will loathe the combat – while those who take a little from column A and some from column B will sit somewhere in the middle.

Set up without much direction, multiple challenges in the form of extended tournaments provide ample challenge. While the tutorial explains the basics of game play, it doesn’t do much for the flow. Newcomers will find the menu system confusing, and be frustrated to learn their extended tournament battle doesn’t save in-between races. It all needs to be completed in one sitting.

Multiple game play modes keep the experience fresh. Deathmatch is standard fare, capture the flag turns into a point challenge, races are with or without weapons, and minor variants on these themes create slightly more unique takes on the fast paced engine. Arena battles are confined, while those on tracks are open and more fun to play.

Racing mechanics are solid. It’s entirely based on the braking system, which allows for spectacular drift-like stops that let the users hover board lose only a slight amount of speed when traversing the courses. Boosting at its highest level is frantic fun, and you can only blame yourself when you fly off the track when taking a ramp.

Unfortunately, combat can’t keep up. Targeting can only be accomplished when stopped, enough to kill the play in an instant against A.I. or human opponents online. Street Trace relies on auto-targeting, an iffy prospect that makes shooting limited amounts of ammo (from four total types of weapons) frustrating. The wide reaching mines become the effective choice for enemy destruction simply because they can still hit without locking on.

Environments predict the apparently inevitable bleak future. The three D’s are accounted for – dim, dilapidated, and dark. Recognizable landmarks, including a wild ride through the Brooklyn Bridge, enhance realism in a game that hardly strives for authenticity.

For $10, the single player offers enough depth to justify its purchase, though Xbox Live Silver members will miss the fun multi-player. While hardly revolutionary and the above mentioned problems still carry over, its frantic pacing makes for a fun time with a group of friends. The selectable modes also add an additional layer of depth, and increasing the amount of time you’ll spend with this original effort.

Those who explore the surface level of Street Trace will find a mildly fun game at its core. Others who spend the time to master things such as braking and the frustrating intricacies of combat will find a surprisingly deeper experience with a reasonable challenge. This title requires a demo download to toy with before purchasing.

Street Trace: NYC is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.


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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.