It’s easy, yet at the same time very hard to write this review about Capcom’s newest (and first ever !) racing title Auto Modellista. Let me start of by saying that AM has a lot to offer ! Now, you could say “a racing game is a racing game is a …” but no, not with this title. Auto Modellista takes you to the Japanese racing scene – no european tracks or cars here – and if the game is somewhat exemplar of the real-life scene there… well then I guess Japanese folk are really crazy about car-modding :-). On top of that, Capcom made sure they had some pretty neat licences to enhance the game. Well known brands include Toyota, Mitshubishi, Mazda, Nissan, Suzuki, Subaru, …
First off, let’s start with the graphics. Everything is drawn cartoonstyle…. not just cartoonstyle… this is true anime-style: fast-looking, stylish and very modern. To put it in other words: the cell-shading gives the cars a real stylish and ‘finished’ look, which is especially noticable during weather changes. A neat special effect is when your car reaches higher speeds. Suddenly some sort of white speed lines fly by, giving you a kind of ‘warp-space-speed’ impression 🙂 I would like to mention here that you’ve got the option to switch to 60 hz and play the game widescreen. Very nice touch, I think, because lots of developers seem to forget that there are 16/9 television sets out there.
The gameplay of Auto Modellista is split into a couple of main sections: Garage Life (career), Arcade including a Time Attack and 1vs1 mode, Replay Theatre and VJ mode. First off: the ‘normal’ single player garage life racing. It’s fun, but I’m afraid the real fun of the race is thanks to the graphics because … the race is just what it is, a normal race. Nothing out of the ordinary, been there, done that. Keep in mind that it’s an arcade-racer, not a simulation-racer. What does make it enjoyable though, is the good use of vibrations in the (handheld) controller ! Other racers very often forget to make optimal use of this PS2 feature. Good work on that !
What makes Auto Modellista also ‘stand out’ are the sh*tload of tuning-possibilities – they are … enormous, there is no other word for it. I’ve played the game for hours on end now, but I get the feeling I can still keep on discovering new features. One of those features is that you can draw your own logo and stick it to your 1337 vehicle – amazing ! And just about everything on every car can be changed or tuned … and what’s more, you can feel those tuning-adjustments while racing. Here I was, thinking that car-tuning was just for macho’s wanting to compensate … ‘something’ 😉
A bit dissapointing though, are the tracks. I’m sorry, but they are quite simply too dull. The 2 ‘secret’ tracks are unlocked after a while and although they’re fun, they cannot change the fact that the tracks are all very similar. But … dullness can be avoided by playing Auto Modellista with 2 persons in the Arcade – Vs mode. Fun ! And after a race it’s well worth watching the replay … and I mean it: watch it ! Because there are a lot of functions in the replay too: multiple camera angles, switching between cars, fast forward action and … reverse play !!! Your buddy tells you he couldn’t help bumping into you ? Well make sure by replaying that part of the race a couple of times … then punch him on the nose 🙂
About the sound… the game offers a lot of different music tracks, but I muted them most of the time. Not my style and too little diversity … most songs sound exactly the same. The sounds during the races are … well … sufficient. Once again, nothing out of the ordinary. They do the trick, but don’t expect to be amazed.
In conclusion I would like to say that the cellshading in the game makes it innovative and quite fun to play. The tracks are a bit boring so that can be improved. But what makes this game different from other racing games (and worth playing) are the enormous amount of tuning possibilities. Now I’m not into tuning in real-life, but in-game itself it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the game, I’m sure you will too !
(ps. this game would rock online)