As long as there are people who are completely in love with a particular car brand or model, there will always be a racing game featuring it. Many games of this type have come out through the various gaming generations, and while some of the titles in the 16- and 32-bit eras were actually good, the quality of racers that feature only one manufacturer or car model has fallen off in recent years. American car brand Chevrolet, a subsidiary of GM, is no stranger to having a game all to itself with Corvette a few years ago, though it had to share the spotlight with another manufacturer in Ford vs. Chevy. This time out, Chevrolet has another game all to itself with Chevrolet Camaro: Wild Ride on the Wii. Unfortunately, if the people who greenlit the project at Detroit had any aspirations of making new fans through this game, those hopes have been dashed rather swiftly.
Chevrolet Camaro features three different modes, two of which are pretty straightforward. Time Trial has you racing on the game's tracks with any of the cars to get the fastest lap, and 2-Player versus has you and a friend racing split-screen against each other to see who can be the first across the finish line in two laps. In both scenarios, all of the tracks and cars are available from the outset, so those who are looking to play multiplayer first can do so without fear of missing anything.
The main gameplay mode is the Camaro Challenge. In this single-player mode, the player has three levels to clear, each with a set of tracks and each track containing four different events. A standard race pits you against seven other CPU opponents in two-lap races to the finish line. Checkpoint racing has you trying to reach each checkpoint along the track before time runs out. Speed racing has you trying to reach the target speed with your car as quickly as possible, and cone tracks have you using your car to knock over the required number of traffic cones in the allotted time. Completing each track gives you Chevy points, and attaining a certain number of Chevy points gives you the opportunity to open up more tracks and cars with which to race. In all, there is a selection of nine tracks and 12 cars.
For a budget title, the amount of content isn't so bad, and credit has to be given to the team for trying to expand things by giving the player mirror versions of each course. This doesn't make Chevrolet Camaro a gem by any means, and the main reason for that is the game's lax difficulty. No matter how far you get in the game, the difficulty level never ramps up, and you can easily take first place in the pack before you're halfway through the first lap. With no catch-up code for the opponent AI, you never feel that your lead is threatened. Even if you stop dead in a track, it takes some time before you'll see anyone approach you; even then, passing them requires little to no effort. If there is any challenge to be had, it's the goal of acquiring enough points to unlock everything in the game. Even then, you can expect to see and conquer everything the game has to offer in a single afternoon.
The good news about the graphics is that everything is widescreen and rendered in 480p with a very solid frame rate. You'll feel like you're going fast but not so fast that you'll lose control. As you're racing, you realize that the frame rate and sense of speed come from the game's simple and plain appearance. The cars look no better than what you would see on a first-generation PS2 game. You can tell what kind of Camaros they are, but they don't look very impressive from any angle. The textures on the buildings are blurry and stretched out, and the environments suffer from fogging and draw-in, something especially noticeable as you drive toward tall buildings. The particle effects like smoke appear to be pasted on, and the sense of speed isn't heightened when you use turbo. Your only indication of turbo use is the flaming rear tires, but you can only see them if you turn far enough to almost point the car backward. Again, the game performs graphically, but it isn't exactly pretty.
The controls are rather decent, especially since only one control method is offered. Steering is handled with the tilt of the Wii Remote as it is held sideways. The 2 button accelerates, the 1 button initiates brakes, and the A button activates turbo boosts. The up and down directions on the d-pad handle shifting when you race in manual mode, and the B button shifts the camera so you can look behind you as you race. Controlling the car is fine, and the sensitivity is at the perfect level so you don't need to exaggerate your tilt or remain rock steady either. It suits the game well enough, and there are no real complaints.
The sound is both pedestrian and horrendous. The music is generic rock, and while it isn't ear-splittingly bad, it is something you'll tune out as you go through the track's challenges. The sound effects aren't too bad. The engine roars are fine, and collisions with both the traffic cones and other cars sound decent, though more work on getting them to sound impactful would have been nice. Things go south quickly when you scrape the car against a wall or fence, though. Instead of the sound of metal screeching or a deep thump, you hear sounds of static every time you make contact with the environment. The sound effect is unbearable enough that you'll want to drive as carefully as possible just so you never encounter the effect again.
The best thing that can be said about Chevrolet Camaro: Wild Ride is that it's mediocre. It isn't the most exciting racer for the system this year, but it also isn't the worst. While it would be easy to simply recommend a better racing game over this one, the truth is that there hasn't been a very good racing title for the system that didn't involve go-karts since last year's Need for Speed: Nitro. Don't let that be an excuse to go get this title, though, regardless of any bargain bin prices.
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