Golden Age of Racing, and it really does show. My initial thought was: same game, different skin. There actually is a good deal of truth to it, but there are some notable differences as well and I found myself liking this title just a bit more than the other.
It is fairly easy to get into this game as the main menu is very straightforward. You create a racing profile, and then you change options such as the control scheme or dive right into the racing, of which there are a four modes that give you various timed objectives. One of the primary differences in this game versus Golden Age of Racing is that while the other game pitted you against other racers, the idea behind this title is generally about time trials to unlock new cars and tracks.
I will say that I enjoyed the visuals and pacing of this title a bit more. Your car is the focal point of the screen, not sharing track with a bunch of other cars, and the environments were more pleasing as well – track design just felt better. However, a lot of the problems that plagued Golden Age of Racing rear their head in this title too, and since they seem to use the same engine, that really does not come as a huge surprise.
Again the cars do not control terribly well, and if there is a greater sin in a racing game, I cannot think of it right now. There is no track map, so you rely on your environment for your visual cues when curves are coming. Since your car does not take damage in this title there is less of a penalty when you do crash, which does help to keep you from getting frustrated about one or two bad turns.
It is fun unlocking new cars, but it would have been nice to have the option to tweak or upgrade favorites on some level. There is not a tremendous difference between the cars you unlock, besides aesthetics. There may be variable top end speeds and handling differences, but they were negligible at best.
There are a lot of better racers out there, to be honest. This was no doubt a budget title back when it released on the PlayStation 2 and should be approached accordingly. You might spend a bit less but you are getting less replay value and depth as well.
It is hard not to compare this title to Golden Age of Racing for a few reasons. They are brought to us by the same development team, they use the same engine and controls and I got the opportunity to play them both at the same time. For me personally I found Noble Racing to be a bit more fun. It lacks some of the spectacular/silly crashes found in Golden Age of Racing but better track design and lack of car damage make this title a bit more accessible to casual drivers. It still lacks the depth hardcore racing fans are going to look for in a title, but I think Noble Racing has fewer barriers for the casual audience. I think that is the target audience here, and anyone else may be disappointed.
- Nick H also runs his own awesome blog, Chalgyr's Game Room. Be sure to check it out!