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Smashing Drive

Preview By: Siou Choy

Developer:  Namco
Publisher:  Namco
Genre:  Driving/Action
Est. Release:  2-20-02
Posted:  1-29-02

The mega-popularity of Sega’s Crazy Taxi has spawned several clones of late, running the gamut from the cheesy 70’s style truckin’ epic 18 Wheeler to Simpsons Road Rage to its own, barely modified and somewhat pointless (if somewhat more politically correct) sequel. Today’s contender for the crazy-drivin’ crown: house favorites Namco, tossing their hat into the ring with Point of View’s Smashing Drive. To cop from the P.R. a bit, this time around you won’t be driving just any old cab; you’ll be driving the "cab of the future" (ahem). Your cab of the future (snort) can be upgraded by collecting assorted power-ups found throughout the city. These come in a variety of forms: speed-boosts, battering rams, glider wings, buzz-saws, and sonic blast horns are only a few.

Much like its parent Crazy Taxi, the goal of Smashing Drive is to get from Point A to Point B before time runs out. If you’re able to complete the stage with a high enough score, you get rewarded with bonus levels. Naturally, this isn’t always an easy task with such workaday obstacles as the appropriately stupid pedestrians, kamikaze traffic, and all the expected sights of a typical metropolitan area drive. Much like the real world, it takes a bit of creativity to get where you want on time (though the use of such tricks as using a hook and ladder a la Tony Hawk to find hidden shortcuts through buildings is stretching things just a bit).

Gamers will be able to choose what shift they’d like to take their cabs out in: Early Bird, Rush Hour, Night Owl, Dusk and best of all, "Weird" (like driving on roads full of dazed and clueless cel phone hugging, overly aggressive, SUV driving yuppies isn’t weird). Each shift, of course, will have it’s own unique setting. There are three modes of play in Smashing Drive: Arcade, Head-to-Head, and Survival, all fairly self explanatory. If you can’t figure out what Arcade mode means, you shouldn’t be reading this article. Grab a friend and the two of you can play against each other in Head-to-Head mode, with your choice of vertical, horizontal, or diagonal split screens. Survival mode gives you the virtual opportunity to see how long you can survive the mean streets (or to use its real-life equivalent, how many trips you can take on a road filled with the aforementioned yuppies without getting into an accident or getting pulled over by the 10,000,000 bored and sneaky traffic cops polluting the highways and byways of this proud land, whichever comes first). Hmmm…virtual "crazy" driving, or driving in the real world…which one is more of a challenge, I ask you?

Smashing Drive has been improved graphically for the GameCube, running at about 60 frames per second with cleaner textures than it’s arcade’s counterpart. Of course, that may not be a major selling point, given that with the relentlessly fast pace of the game, most gamers might not get the time to admire their surroundings (damn, another true-road parallel!).

GameCube owners can look for Smashing Drive to appear on retailers’ shelves in the coming months.

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