Review: Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (Game Boy Advance)

In this review, we try to win the race in the game Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. We find how how well this racing game plays.

This game was released in 2004.

We have already played the Playstation port of this game. That game wound up bombing for us. So, we thought we’d try the portable version to see if it’s any better.

If you were expecting the same game as the Playstation version, you simply aren’t getting it. The only similarities is the Porsche theme for the most part.

You have three different race modes: Single Race, Short Knockout, and Full Knockout. Single race gets players to pick a track and win either a point A to point B race or a single lap in a circuit race. 1st place is the only place you want to be. Win the race and you’ll, well, win the race.

A short knockout race takes players on a circuit course. Each lap causes the player in last place to be eliminated. So, the real goal is to simply not finish a lap in last race. Be the last player alive and win the race.

Finally, there is the full knockout competition. It operates like the short knockout race, but with one exception: you take on the full roster of courses in the game. Whether it’s circuit or a point A to point B race, the goal is simply to not come in last. Finish last in any race and you’ll be eliminated. Survive up to the final race and win and you’ll win the whole competition.

If you win in any race, you’ll get a voice sample that congratulates you on your accomplishment. You’ll also get to see your fast time. After that, well, that’s pretty much it.

You’ll also be given an option to try a different car. When you start the game, you’ll get the full roster of cars available in the game. There is a difference in performance between cars, but the only way in-game to know the difference is to take it for a spin. No stats of any kind are given to you at all, so you’re simply left with the task of guessing your car of choice.

In addition, before the competition, players can choose one of three weather conditions: dry, rain, and snow. This has an impact on turning capabilities and traction. The conditions also affect the small amount of animation you’ll get during the race, but that’s pretty much it.

In the race themselves, you’ll be given a small amount of rally-style instructions. You’ll be told if you are coming up to a soft or hard turn. As a result, you’ll be given a whopping four different bits of instruction. There is also physics where if you hit a wall, you’ll just bounce right off of it with minimal slowdown. The only real threat is travelling headlong into a wall which will slow you all the way down to a near dead halt. This will allow opponents to catch up.

If you find the easy setting too, well, easy, then you can always select a harder difficulty as well. You have a choice of easy, medium, and hard.

That’s pretty much the whole game. There isn’t really anything in the way of storyline or a progression tree outside of the connected races in the full knockout competition. Even if you win, you really don’t get anything substantial either.

The biggest problem this game has is that there is no real progress tree. This is a problem that dates back to the original Road and Track Presents: The Need for Speed. It makes the game seem somewhat aimless and severely limits the replay value. The only difference is that you don’t even have an indicator of what you won and what you didn’t win in.

To make matters worse is a lack of car stats. It would be a surprising lack of detail if found in the original first game in the series. It’s a stunning lack of information for a game released in the 2000’s.

Over an above this, some race selection sections don’t even bother giving you a map. It’s just a case of picking and choosing from a list of names and hoping you remember which is which after you’ve raced them all.

As a result, the menu system makes this game feel like a tech demo as opposed to a polished finished product.

The redeeming factor of this game is in the races themselves. While it’s hard to cram much into the tiny handheld screen, the races do feel like actual races. Impressively, races are depicted in the first person perspective. While graphical limitations may limit your ability to see in the distance, the game is sufficiently slowed down so that this isn’t a huge problem.

Tracks themselves are nicely varied, though they do fall into the familiar problem of just being one line from beginning to end with almost no alternative routs.

Still, it is worth pointing out that the physics aren’t the world greatest in races. It also would have been nice to know how you are doing outside of a simple placement indicator. A simple growing and shrinking arrow might have done the trick here. Maybe even an over the top car radar would have worked here as well.

Generally speaking, this game just doesn’t stack up that well despite the impressive first person perspective that this game offers. The lack of options, features, and even a basic progress tree in the menu’s makes this game have a very tech demo feel to it. The races themselves are decent, but could use some added information like a basic radar feature. Additionally, the physics aren’t the greatest in the world either. So, not the greatest game to be had as far as I can tell.

Graphically, the game is pretty impressive. It boasts basic 3D graphics. Each car definitely looks different from the other. Also, the environments are nicely realized as you can definitely get a sense of environmental progression throughout each race. There are even a number of different features to see along the way which is nicely done. So, overall, the game is pretty solid here.

Audio is decent. The music does do a decent job at breaking up the monotony of the races. Nothing is here that would stand out, but it doesn’t mean the music is bad either. Sound effects are fairly basic, though. So, the game is OK here.

Overall, there was hopes that this portable port would give this game a second chance to try and impress. Unfortunately, it just disappoints. The menu is borderline useless with a lack of any real progression, lack of stats, and even the almost useless track selection system. Meanwhile, the races are decent and gives the game a reason to at least try it out. Still, the physics and lack of race status information outside of placement can be a drag. Graphics are quite decent and the audio is passable. Unfortunately, this game winds up being not the greatest game in the world.

Furthest point in game:
Beat a full knockout race, quick knockout, and a couple of single races. Tried a single race with the different conditions. Also tried a single race on medium difficulty.

General Gameplay: 13/25
Replay value: 4/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 54%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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