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Street Outlaws: The List

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
Developer: Team6 Game Studios
Release Date: Oct. 22, 2019


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PS4 Review - 'Street Outlaws: The List'

by Cody Medellin on May 6, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Street Outlaws: The List is a lifestyle racing and tuning video game based on the high-speed cars and attitude of Discovery Channel's unscripted TV series.

Glacier 2, Road Rage, Street Racer Europe and Super Street: The Game: If any of these games sound familiar, then you already know of Team6's work in the racing genre. Whether that's a good thing is questionable, but the developer has still been making games on any available platform. Its latest title happens to be Street Outlaws: The List, which is based on the Discovery show that's already in its 15th season.

The game starts off with you, a new and unnamed racer, showing up to a race in Oklahoma City. You're quickly taken under the wing of one of the stars of the show, Murder Nova, as he loans you his car for a few races. Things go well until you get into an impromptu race with one of the champions, Big Chief, and lose. From there, Nova helps to train you in the art of street racing by giving you a clunker of a car and having you rise through the ranks until you make The List, a venerable who's who of the Oklahoma City street racing scene.

After picking out your first car from a wide array of unlicensed vehicles with no visible stats, you'll learn that the campaign is structured very differently from other racing games. You have what is essentially a week to challenge a major opponent in a race. To do that, you'll spend a total of five days completing various other races for the chance to issue that challenge. Once you win the race, you'll participate in one more race to unlock your opponent's car for yourself before restarting the cycle. Ultimately, you'll complete these weeks and eventually seasons, racking up racing XP and cash as you go, before you finally complete enough to get on The List.

The first flaw is that the game doesn't necessarily stick to its own progression structure. More often than not, you'll complete a few events before an end-of-season event pops up in the middle of the week. Complete this three-stage race, and you'll find yourself at the start of a new week to challenge a new person, and you've missed the opportunity to gain the previous car in the process. It's up to you to adhere to the structure, since the game doesn't support it.

The events that count toward actual progression aren't the typical races you'd find in other racing titles, but they are split into three specific event types. One is essentially a time trial, where you need to make it from one end of a course to another, with the recorded time determining the medal you get. The other similar event type has you going through and bashing various wooden gates, hitting as many of them as you can before time expires. In both cases, you aren't up against any AI opponents, so it's just you and the track.

The final event type is a head-to-head drag race, and this is perhaps the most involved event type, since it is split into three stages. The first has you trying to execute a burnout to warm up your tires. This is done by holding down the brake and the gas at the same time while trying to keep the car as straight as possible. The second stage has you trying to bump yourself toward the starting line without going over, and that's accomplished by hitting the acceleration trigger just as your meter hits the sweet spot in an ever-moving gauge. After getting your three bumps done, you're off to the actual drag race, where you need to hold the brake, hold the gas, then let go of the brake when you get the green light to go. Since there's no automatic shifting, you have to manually hit the shift up button when your needle hits the green area to accelerate. You can't cross over into your opponent's lane, and you have to cross the finish line first.

There's a myriad of issues with all three events. The general one is that the driving feels terrible. Despite your best efforts in the time trials and destruction events, there's a good chance that your car drifts off on its own, and since the steering isn't too responsive, you'll hit walls if you're above cruising speed. In a few of the races with ramps or explosive barrels, the physics system fails to behave realistically. Barrels pinball you into walls, and a ramp almost guarantees that you won't have enough clearance to clear the gap, leaving you pointing straight up at the sky when you land.

For drag races, the first sign of trouble is that your steering during a burnout is almost nonexistent, and even though you're given plenty of time to fill up your grip meter, you'll be stopped despite having remaining time on the warmup clock. The drifting is more pronounced when you shift, and there are times when it gets so bad that you don't have time to correct yourself before you steer into the other lane and get disqualified. When you consider how many drag races you need to go through during the game and how you need to start the three-step process anytime you lose or get disqualified, any amount of fun you may have had is quickly dashed.

In short, things may work, but nothing works very well. There's nothing exciting about the major races, since it's more drag racing. The same goes for trying to win a car, since it's another time trial. The bonus events lack excitement due to sluggish racing and the lack of fanfare should you hit the target. The shop seems like a wasted menu, since the junkyard is always the cheaper option, even if you have to wait to see if the gamble paid off. That joy is also undone by a menu system that's tough to read, so upgrading becomes a chore even though the parts that you can change out sound like heaven for a car modder.

Much like the clunker of a car you start with, the presentation in Street Outlaws is sub-par. The car models barely look like they came from the PS3 era, and there's not much to talk about in the detail department. The lack of car deformation or designs feel like a wasted opportunity in using unlicensed cars. The environments look decent until you realize that you'll see every single locale after a handful of races. The game runs at 60fps most of the time, but the constant screen-tearing and micro-stutters make the accomplishment feel cheap.

As for the audio, the engine sounds are generic, and bumping into the sides of tracks lack any impact. The music is generic country rock, and the small library of tracks means that it quickly becomes indiscernible background noise. The voices are probably the only bright spot, as some of the members of the cast reprise their roles, but their performances range from bored to mildly amused, making their commentary in some areas an annoyance rather than something fun.

The most difficult thing about Street Outlaws: The List is trying to find a reason to play it. Depending on the event, the controls range from serviceable to terrible, with a physics system that doesn't make sense. The lack of real challenge is offset by the overall length of the game, which seems far too long for what's being offered. Between the underwhelming presentation, a clunky but bare-bones menu, and lack of gameplay variety, even superfans of the show will find it tough to stick with this game for a significant amount of time.

Score: 4.0/10

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