Reviewed: November 22, 2006
Released: October 17, 2006
The Ford racing games have been around for a long time. I even remember when these games were offered for free on the PC, but that was a time when production values were low and the game was more of a marketing tool for Ford rather than an actual game.
It's taken more than a decade of mediocre titles to get to where we are today with Ford Bold Moves Street Racing available for console and the PSP. I've avoided these titles for several years now and admittedly went into this review with some extremely low expectations.
With Eidos behind the wheel of this latest Ford racer we now get a much more polished game with 24 signature classics from the vast history of the Ford company. Combine that with realistic street racing environments taken right from Los Angeles and a cool new two-car team-based driving experience and Ford Bold Moves Street Racing actually manages to compete in a genre already overflowing with racing titles.
Obviously, the target for this game is Ford lovers, and it will be those loyal fans who will ultimately see past this game's numerous shortcomings and enjoy a solid, realistic, and often unforgiving racing game.
From the main menu you get your standard offering of race modes including Quick Race, Career, Arcade, and Multiplayer. Career and Arcade breakdown even further into Solo and Team modes. As always, you'll need to play the career mode to unlock cars and tracks for the other modes.
The Team Racing is probably the coolest new idea implemented in this latest Ford game. You control two cars and work together as a team switching between cars and using Block and Boost orders to your teammate. In this mode you win by earning the most points earned through strategic driving - not by winning the race. There is a great strategy element to this mode (like the art of chain boosting) and it's very rewarding when you finally figure out how it all works.
Solo racing is the other major component to Ford Bold Moves Street Racing. It offers some refreshing realism that might be considered "too hard" for casual race fans. The AI is brutal and unlike many games where you can simply restart a race when you are doing poorly, if you quit any race within a series you'll get a DNF and no points.
This can (and does) get frustrating when you do well in the first one or two events then blow it in the third or fourth race and lose the series by a point or two. Sure, that's what happens in the real world, but life is too short for this level of brutal realism in video games.
It wouldn't be so bad if when you lost the other car that won wasn't always the same guy, but you can almost always count on chasing the same point leader through a four-race series. If you don't win he will. There is also some issues with unrealistic AI where the computer cars are able to perform and handle in ways that your car (even if it's the same model) cannot. It's almost as if the game is programmed to keep the race close, which means you can still lose quite easily with a small mistake on the final lap.
The career mode takes you across a large scrolling map with nodes that represent the various events. Each node dictates the class of car you drive, the location within the city, and any special race rules.
Ford Bold Moves Street Racing actually takes into account car damage, which is not only shown visually, but must also be repaired in the garage to keep your car running at top performance. There is a bit of inconsistency with trackside object, what you can hit and what you can magically pass through.
Control is amazing with great physics and car handling that seems to capture each model's special traits and varying weight. Jumping between car classes requires a bit of rethinking when it comes to cornering, braking, and acceleration. Performance declines in real-time as you accumulate significant damage.
Ford Bold Moves Street Racing supports Ad Hoc racing for up to three people in team mode and six players in solo race modes. It's pretty easy to create a lobby, choose the track, race type, and level of difficulty for any computer-controlled drivers who will fill out the starting grid.
Ford Bold Moves Street Racing has some excellent visuals that expand upon the PS2 version and approach Xbox quality. It all starts with gorgeous splash screens that capture a lifetime of Ford cars in brochure-quality images. The menus, race map, and garage interface are clean and easy to use.
Once in the game you are treated to some stunning city environments, smooth framerates, excellent car models, and realistic damage. You can experience all this from a bumper cam for the ultimate sensation of speed or the chase cam, favored by those who enjoy arcade handling and a better view of the road ahead.
If I had to complain about anything it would be the rather limited and bland color pallet. All of the city tracks, while distinct in design, share far too many common colors. And cars, even bright red or yellow, simply don't pop off the screen like most racing titles. I suppose, in a way, this makes everything more realistic, but from a gaming perspective it's also a bit boring.
I've come to expect a rockin' soundtrack with my racing games and with a game like Ford Bold Moves Street Racing I was really looking forward to some classic rock to go with the vintage autos. Sadly, the game is void of any music making for a very boring race experience.
Driving in total silence at least lets you appreciate the diverse and authentic engine sounds for all of the Ford vehicles. There is also some believable crashing and scraping metal noises.
The solo career is a surprisingly lengthy series of races, and the team racing adds greatly to the overall length of the game. The inability to restart a race within a series adds a whole new level of difficulty and might make the game last longer than it should.
The multiplayer is great fun but with no game share option you'll need to find other PSP owners with their own copy of the game.
There are dozens of racing games available for the PSP, and they all offer their own unique vision and presentation of the genre. Ford Bold Moves Street Racing is fairly basic in presentation and offers a limited selection of real world cars and pretty average racing action mixed with some minor team strategy elements.
For more casual racers who are looking for a wider variety of cars, scenery, and music then you might want to pass on Ford Bold Moves Street Racing. But if you love Ford vehicles and enjoy realistic and challenging street racing on the streets of LA then check this game out.