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PSP  header logo

Street Riders

For: PSP

Word up, dog: there's trouble in the hood. Time to flip some wigs back, you dig?

Product: Street Riders | Developer: Ubisoft | Publisher: Ubisoft | Format: PSP | Genre: Racing, Shooter | Players: 1-8 | Networking: wireless (adhoc)
Street Riders PSP, thumbnail 1
You know how embarrassing it is to see your dad dancing in public? Or how awkward you feel when an older relative suddenly acts 'down with it' because your mates are round?

Well, it's a bit like playing Street Riders, a car combat game that couldn't be more 'street' unless it became tarmac.

Check it: you're gangsta Buck, who cruises around town doing crime lord Dupree's errands. This involves racing and shooting rival gang members into oblivion – or 'flipping their wigs back', as your boss prefers to term it. Indeed, the way Dupree verbalises you suspect he believes he's all G, too. And he's not entirely wrong – he just happens to be more Ali G, that's all.

Alas, he's nowhere near as entertaining. Yet Dupree is not without educational value – the ridiculously forced, mostly superfluous and entirely irritating pre-mission pep talk he delivers before you embark on outings offers an intriguing journey through hip-hop terminology. This is largely due to his insistence on using as many different words as possible to effectively say the same thing (though with some 60-odd missions available, even rap's extensive vocab eventually runs out).

It's not just Dupree's dialogue that is limited, though. The number of stages may sound like da shiznit but in reality they mainly revolve around four traditional set-ups: straight racing; distance trials (in which the car to have covered the most miles wins); deathmatch (both solo and team variants); and knockout (last placed fool is eliminated after every lap). While the game tries to keep things varied by mixing these up, they repeat too rapidly and their layout is too similar not to feel like someone's taking you for a ride.

And our mamas definitely raised no fools.

The only fundamental change to the proceedings comes at the end of each chapter, when the circuit-based structure is ditched in favour of a freeway blast featuring a unique challenge – such as outrunning the 5-0, safely escorting another vehicle back to the crib or riding above a certain speed to keep a bomb from blowing up your face. This leads to an exceptionally well-produced cut-scene, which in turn sends you on to another seemingly interminable series of race meetings.

To be fair, the racing itself isn't entirely butt. There's some enjoyment from battling it out for position against equally aggressive OGs and busting enough caps in their bumper to blow them sky high while you speed past below in search of your next victim. Naturally, you're a target for hot ones yourself (keep an eye out for health pick-ups) but if your armour level is safe, then concentrate on packing some heavy metal – icons at regular intervals on the track offer semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, machine guns, mines and even rocket launchers.

For the ultimate launch, however, you rely on a limited supply of nitro that can either be replenished by collecting the appropriate icon or accrued while powersliding. The handling model may not be the most refined but all of the vehicle types available are easily thrown around corners, and the process becomes easier as you unlock faster models.

Equally undemanding is the semi-automatic aiming, meaning you generally only need to be pointing roughly towards your target to do some damage (firing backwards tends to be more reliable still). Whilst this does allow you to focus on the driving, with more than a few rough edges it's by no means a perfect system.

Which is generally how the Street Riders experience comes across. The visuals are far from spectacular (though the ride is at least consistently smooth) but even in terms of rudimentary structure, the game gets it wrong; the story mode is absurdly drawn out to the point of rendering the narrative redundant, and other elements such as forcing you to come first in every mission in order to progress just ain't cool.

But it's the underlying repetitiveness of the action and uninspiring ambition that ultimately guns Street Riders down. And while the embarrassment of hearing Dupree telling you to "spray that hot heat in their ass" (or similarly eloquent words to that effect) for the umpteenth time will be universal, the real awkwardness comes from knowing that you could and should be playing something far more rewarding.
Street Riders
Reviewer photo
Joao Diniz Sanches | 18 April 2006
Don't waste your cheese on this, homies – it's aight but we've clocked far fresher PSP titles, fo'shizzle
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