Cross Racing Championship 2005 Review

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Graphics: 9.5
Sound : 8.5
Gameplay : 8.5
Multiplayer : 9.5
Overall : 9.0
Review by John K.
First, I must admit that I’m not much of a racing fan. A couple of races against some friends can be fun, but don’t ask me to play a gazillion races to unlock a new track or vehicle. This is why I was a bit hesitant about reviewing Cross Racing Championship 2005 for the PC, but after browsing through the website I decided to give it a go.

After launch, I decided to check out the options menus and I was pleasantly surprised. There are enough options to adjust the game’s performance to a variety of PCs, though keep in mind that CRC2005 does have minimum requirements. One awkward feature of the options is that the player has to manually restart the game if he or she wants to change the resolution. A button that would automate this process would be handier.

After setting the options to match my system, I decided to go for a quick race to check out the handling of the cars. There wasn’t much available at first, so I picked the first car and track I laid my eyes on and started the race. After a short loading process, I found myself in the game and was immediately impressed with the graphics. The lighting effects are very well done, and it is obvious that a great deal of time has been spent on details.

Having gotten my driver’s license recently, I finally know what driving a car should feel like and I must say that CRC2005 creates a realistic driving simulation, which immerses the player into the action of the game. The car handles more like it would in real life as opposed to most driving games in which the player tapes down the acceleration button and makes turns perfectly.

After bumping into a few things, I started noticing my car had a few dents and that it was more difficult to handle as a result. My car’s steering was out of alignment, and cornering wasn’t as smooth as it had been. At some point, I even knocked one of my wheels off. After repairing my car, I played around a bit more and decided it was time to test the career mode.

The first thing the player might notice when starting the game in career mode is that the types of cars available during any particular race are limited. This helps the game keep balance because the player won’t be racing against opponents who have far superior cars. Second, players may need to play the tracks a few times to become adept enough to finally win a race. I had to play tracks at least two times to win on Novice level. The player has to master all the corners and brake points before driving well enough to earn a first place finish in a race. There was even a race that I had to run nine times before winning.

Before each race, the player is presented with a list of awards he or she can earn when finishing at a certain position; for example, you will get a new car if you finish in first place and a new body kit if you finish second. You have to finish first in all races of a championship to access a new championship. The type of gear you choose for a race is essential for victory; you can choose tires, breaks, the type of transmission, and other accessories, and unless you choose the correct setup for that specific race, you’re bound to lose.

The difficulty levels vary from Amateur to Professional. On an Amateur level, damage is disabled and you can have any camera position and transmission option. At the Professional level, however, the camera is locked inside the car and you have to drive with a manual transmission. A great feature here is the mouse manual transmission; the mouse simulates the car’s gearshift—the player operates the mouse to change gears. This is an innovative concept for racing games, and it provides the feeling of actually driving the car.

One of the great things about CRC2005 is that you can customize various aspects. For example, if you place mp3 files into the music directory, CRC2005 automatically uses your music files as the background music. This is an exceptionally smart feature, allowing for more audio diversity.

Another great feature is the easy custom skin support and the ability to use custom skins in online games. On the CRC2005 website, players can get skin templates for each of the available cars. When the gamer opens the template, he or she sees parts of the car in a wire frame layout and can paint over the template, using photo-editing software. Once placed in the car’s skin directory, it becomes automatically available in the skin list of the car and can be used without any further setup.

The lighting effects of CRC2005 are absolutely stunning. Light falls and reflects on tons of objects, and it changes with fluidity when objects are moving. The reflections on the cars are extremely realistic and the graphics don’t allow the car to appear perfectly undamaged by the race rubbing and bumping. When a car gets damaged, the lighting effects adapt accordingly. Another great feature is that the cars get dirty over time. (This can be seen in the Gamershell gameplay movie.) When the player begins an off-road race, the car is very shiny and polished, but as the race progresses, it gets dirtier and is eventually all matte and filthy. The gradual increasing of the dirt is hardly noticeable until the car is completely covered in dust. Similarly, when driving on snow racetracks, the cars get covered in snow.

I had the privilege of playing online with the developers of CRC2005, and I must state that online play is just as much (if not more) fun as the single-player game. There are many different game modes, including Catch the Flag, Destruction, Return the Flag, Jamboree and Cross Race. In Catch the Flag mode, players have to fetch the flag from a specific point and then race through special gates to acquire points. At any time, your opponents can bump you and steal the flag. After stealing the flag, there’s a limited time of immunity, which you can use to make a quick getaway. Return the Flag is almost the same as Catch the Flag, but instead of holding on to the flag and driving through the gates to get points, players have to drop it off at a specific point. At this point, the flag spawns at a random point on the map, and players must try to capture it again.

Destruction mode is the most exciting. Remember Destruction Derby? Imagine that game with all-new graphics and levels online. The goal is to cause as much destruction as possible without destroying the car. The player gets various bonuses for actions like knocking parts off opponents’ cars. Jamboree is the mode in which the players have to find the special gates and drive through them before other cars do, and as usual gamers are allowed to bash their opponents to get there first.

Cross Race is the classic race mode in which players race against up to seven opponents and try to finish first. You can change cars during online games by going to the lobby; you can then rejoin with your new car if you’re finished.

After installing Cross Racing Championship 2005, I launched the game and found a StarForce protection check. The publisher, Project 3 Interactive, has had a number of piracy problems with their previous games and decided to include the StarForce protection this time. It has definitely worked—the game has yet to be pirated, but a few consequences have resulted from the added protection. StarForce 3 has to install drivers for its protection to function, which means that Windows XP x64 users will not yet be able to play StarForce games. StarForce also decreases the performance of the game a bit, which is something that modern day gamers want to stay as far away from as possible. Despite these minor glitches, Cross Racing Championship 2005 is a top-notch title.

Although I’m typically not a racing fan, I absolutely love Cross Championship Racing 2005, and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to review it. I recommend this game to absolutely everyone, even those that usually have an aversion to the racing genre. The online play modes alone are enough to buy the game, and the single-player mode will test your driving skills, no matter if you’re a novice or an expert player.