Release Date: February 28, 2006
The PSP library has been noted for many shortcomings during its short lifespan. The presence of racing games – or anything involving cars, really – is not one of them. There are even some good ones: Wipeout Pure, Ridge Racer (even though it eats battery power like no other PSP game), Burnout Legends … well, that's probably about it.
The rest are games that, frankly, should have been budget titles and would have been, had they seen release on the PlayStation 2. Ports of otherwise solid games, i.e., Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition, were heavily marred by slowdown, ghosting, and above all, loading issues. Still, that game did fairly well and it did play all right, so in the eyes of publishers everywhere, the PSP is seen as a good platform for that post-Fast and the Furious fad that just won't die: street racing.
If you groaned when Street Supremacy hit store shelves like I did, be prepared to groan even louder once you take the game home and load it into your soon-to-be-defiled UMD slot. This is a Johnny-come-lately fad release, so obviously whipped together for a quick buck that… well, I want to say, "It isn't funny," but it is. It's hilarious. This game is a complete wreck, challenging the likes of Need For Speed: Most Wanted on the Nintendo DS.
This is a game that wasn't designed with any regards to the concept of design. Nothing is aesthetically pleasing; moreover, nothing is mentally pleasing. Games are usually designed with the overall goal of producing a sense of enjoyment, but this game provides little to none.
How such a plain game has managed to do this is astounding, yet it makes perfect sense. Many gamers – PSP gamers specifically, going by anecdotal evidence – don't seem to care to check up on a game beforehand. If it sounds like a good idea, they go for it. Once word spreads that a supposed video game is not much of a "game" in the first place (if the definition of "game" is an organized activity that is meant to be fun for the participants), sales inevitably drop off (or I would hope they would, because I still have some small amount of faith in humanity), but it's too late for the publisher's investment not to have been justified. They expect a quick, perhaps even modest return, but with the initial investment it must have taken to create a mindless mess such as this, I couldn't see anything but a very wide profit margin.
I remember reading on a forum once that playing F-Zero was equivalent to driving very fast cars, while Wipeout, similar to F-Zero as it is, was more like controlling futuristic speedboats. This observation was not a slam on either game; it simply showed the intrinsic differences between two otherwise closely-related games. So if F-Zero ships are cool cars, and Wipeout is the boat game, what parallel does that leave for Street Supremacy? The feel of this game is most definitely not conducive to one's expectations of how a car in a racing game should handle. Indeed, if Wipeout were speedboats, Street Supremacy presents a nice spread of very cheap, slow-moving yachts. No, yachts bring to mind happy rich people drinking expensive cocktails and sampling $300 foie gras, which would give this game far too much credit. Perhaps a capsized yacht would be more appropriate, with the foie gras and cocktails creating an unpleasant pool on top of the salty ocean waters, while a dozen or so people swim away from the wreck in a panic. The one person stuck atop the doomed ship, the one who can't swim, is going to do whatever is possible to steer the ship before it sinks to a watery grave. That seems to be the idea behind Street Supremacy.
The 25 available cars all feel this way. Not a single one can handle the very slight turns with which Supremacy challenges players. I would have loved to have italicized the word challenges while I was at it, but no, the slight curves that appear only after what seems like mile after agonizing mile of straightaways are, in reality, a true trial for the cars of Street Supremacy to confront. No joke.
To truly drill this point home, here's what a standard Street Supremacy playthrough is like: The race begins. Cars accelerate quickly from what feels like about 0-15mph. Slowly forward. Onward. Onward. Onward. Onw — slight diagonal shift on the street! Going towards wall! Getting closer to surefire, instant destruction! Turn! Turn! (The vehicle turns, but barely.) Collision with wall. Other 15mph combatants are floating by leisurely, as they reacted by braking, turning, braking, turning, and finally arriving at the proper angle. The race is theirs, unless the AI decides to brake a little too long on a turn … which most of them have! Now at a raging 17mph, the race is once again mine! Onward. Onward. Onward. Onward … and I've won, leaving the AI in my dust by braking for milliseconds less time than they did.
I kid you not, dear reader, the game really does play like this.
But I haven't covered everything! There are upgrades you can use with your winnings – yes, the thrill of obtaining digital, fictional funds for the task of a Street Supremacy race! – but none of them seem to do anything beyond slight cosmetic changes, "slight" being the key word here.
Then there's multiplayer, or the lack of.
Normally when I write "or the lack of," I am pointing out that there is a missing feature that really needs to be present for the game to be a well-rounded product. Here, I am referring to a feature that is present but simply does not work properly. Multiplayer Street Supremacy is, in a word, broken. (If WorthPlaying weren't the respectable website it is, I would have used two words to describe this feature.) The wi-fi code is so cracked, it basically doesn't work. I'm talking about the sorts of problems you might have had with an early '90s online game before the netcode fix patch came out. What one car is doing on one PSP, it probably isn't doing on another.
To wrap this up, I'll say the only thing worth saying about Street Supremacy: It isn't finished, so it isn't worth your money. After all, you had to finish whatever it was you did to earn that money, so why spend it on something that isn't?
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