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Sprint Cars: Road to Knoxville Review

Developer: ValuSoft Publisher: THQ
Release Date: October 16, 2006 Also On: None

All my life I’ve never been a fan of racing, and even less of a fan of racing games. But, just because I think that the idea of sending cars around a track again and again and again and again five hundred times is ridiculous, doesn’t mean I can’t spot a good racing games when I see one. Such games include Need for Speed, Gran Turismo and Forza. Notice that a game not mentioned in this list is Sprint Cars: Road to Knoxville, and here’s why.

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Unlike most racing games, you don’t have ridiculously tight control schemes and hand-breaks. No, you must forget everything you know about racing games in order to succeed in Sprint Cars. The best way to describe the driving style is ‘slippery’, not only because of the type of vehicle you’re controlling, but because every track is a dirt track, giving you little traction. The game forces you to take slow turns by maintaining high speeds. In short, it will take you quite some time to get used to the controls.

I had to come up with many different strategies to find out how to take turns efficiently. The most effective one, I found, was as you come into the turn, let go of the gas, and slowly take your turn, then slam the gas the second your turn ends. This allows you to take the turn cautiously and accelerate fast enough after the turn to keep up with the race. If you try to hold or tap the gas as you go into a turn, you’ll quickly find yourself in last place. Doing so will cause you to either spin out or you’ll go careening into a wall. And if you try braking during your turn…well, don’t. Unless you enjoy being last in the race. Sometimes if you’re lucky and you spin out, you can hit other cars on the side, and then them into a spin-out as well, possibly saving you a few places in the race.

Top speeds in the game aren’t that high to begin with, but when you get there, you’ll want to try and stay there, because if you fall behind, you’ll find it quite a job to catch up to the rest of the pack.. The game also has an “illegal lap” rule, which basically means that if you veer off course at any time and don’t get immediately back into the track, the game will give you an illegal lap and all your opponents get to pass you until you’ve made up the time. Avoid this at all costs. It’s a good thing that it’s there, otherwise you could simply cut through the middle of the track to the other side and blow away the competition. It’s also a bad thing because you’ll often find yourself sent into an illegal lap due to an uncontrollable spin-out.

The graphics in the game are grainy and lack a lot of detail. They can be described as sub-par at best and don’t seem to be up to PS2 standards. The sound of the game is, if anything, annoying. The sound of your car engine running will instantly make you wish you were listening to nails on a chalkboard, and the ever so scarce announcements are, at the most, useless and unneeded.

The only part of the game we haven’t gone over yet is design. The game fails in this aspect as well. Every single track, in every single level, every single time, is nothing but left turns. That’s all it is. There’s no variety whatsoever. I keep hoping that maybe a right turn might come up every once and a while, but to no avail. I don’t know about you, but turning left 6,000,000 million times can get a bit tiring.

All in all, Sprint Cars: Road to Knoxville doesn’t have too many redeeming qualities (though the game is only $14.99), other than when you finally win a race, it feels really nice. Sketchy controls, grainy graphics, frustrating sounds and boring tracks are a great recipe for disaster and THQ is cooking up a storm. If you’re looking for an interesting racing game with some kind of depth (or right turns) you’d better look elsewhere.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 5.5
Creativity: 3.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 5
Written by Matt Review Guide