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laps against

Metropolis Street Racer

Metropolis Street Racer or MSR is a racing game for the Sega Dreamcast. It was developed by Bizarre Creations, and published by Sega. The game was originally intended to be a Dreamcast launch title in Europe and North America, however, due to numerous delays it was not released in Europe until March 2000, with a US version following in January 2001. Development of a Japanese version was started, but was never released.

Many of the concepts used in Metropolis Street Racer were reused in Bizarre Creations' follow-up racing series Project Gotham Racing on the Xbox.

Metropolis Street Racer is notable for introducing the "Kudos" system (whereby players are rewarded for racing stylishly as well as quickly) into video games, and for its detailed and accurate recreations of the cities London, Tokyo and San Francisco. Music for the game was composed by Richard Jacques, and delivered via nine fictional radio stations (three for each city), similarly to the Grand Theft Auto series. The day/night time spectrum during gameplay is realistic, in that the game uses the internal clock of the Dreamcast to calculate the present time in each city. Play at 8AM in England, for example, and the San Francisco races will all be at night.

A selling point of MSR was the large number of tracks available (262 in total), created by blocking off certain areas of the city to lead the player around specific roads and paths. However, only a small number are available at the start of play and most are unlocked by playing through the single player mode. The game did, however, feature far fewer cars than the Gran Turismo series.

Gameplay

Gameplay in MSR is centred around the single-player mode, with tracks and cars in the multiplayer mode being unlocked at the same time as in the single-player game. The premise is that, as a street racer, the player must impress other drivers with quick but stylish driving in a series of challenges. These challenges are in sets of ten (called Chapters - there are 25 in total), with completion of all challenges opening the next chapter (assuming the player has enough Kudos, see below) and unlocking a new car. Each challenge is on a different track, and unlocking a challenge unlocks that track in the time-attack and multiplayer modes.

Challenges

  • Hotlap: Race solo around a track - typically three laps - and attempt to beat a specific time. An alternate version records the average time for all laps.
  • One-on-one: A race (again, usually three laps) against an opponent. The player can give themselves or the computer opponent a head start up to 60 seconds.
  • Street Race: A single race against multiple opponents.
  • Championship: A four-race series against three opponents. Points are received based on the player's position at the end of each race. Usually this is the last challenge in the chapter.
  • Challenge: A race with custom rules, such as passing a certain number of cars within a time limit.

Some challenges (usually the Challenge category) have a time unlock, which allows secret cars or cheats to be unlocked by completing the challenge during a certain time. The challenge can still be completed at a different time, but doing so will not unlock the reward.

Kudos

Kudos is the currency of MSR. It is earned during the challenges in two categories - Skill and Style. Skill Kudos are earned by completing a challenge successfully. The difficulty of challenges is user-configurable - for example, reducing the time limit, or increasing the head start of opponents - with harder challenges rewarding more Kudos for completion. Style Kudos are earned by drifting - using the hand-brake to skid while turning. A "K" symbol appears when drifting, and becomes brighter the longer and more pronounced the drift is. The more opaque the symbol, the more Kudos earned. Kudos are also awarded for finishing a race without colliding with obstacles or other cars. Kudos are lost if the drive collides with a wall, obstacle or other car (theoretically Kudos are not lost if another car collides with the player, but this is not always the case); or by failing the challenge, which results in a final Kudos total of -25 "K" for the whole challenge.

Kudos are calculated on a per-challenge basis. Each challenge's Kudos result is stored, and only the last attempt at a challenge is stored. If a challenge is completed with 250 "K", then subsequently attempted unsuccessfully, that challenge's result becomes -25 "K."

Through playing the game, "Joker" cards may be earned. Playing one of these cards before starting a challenge will double the amount of Kudos gained or lost during that attempt.

Cars

In the single-player mode, the player has a garage which holds three cars. In order to "buy" a car, the player must complete a challenge in that car - usually completing a short lap within a time limit. The player has unlimited time to complete the challenge, and once completed, can customise the car.

The colour of the car and the opacity of the windows can be changed, as can the number plate. ABS may also be switched on or off, and convertible cars may be set as hard-top, soft-top or open-top for different weather conditions.

Kudos is also tied to player cars. As there are initially only three spaces in the garage, occasionally it is necessary to dispose of cars to make space for better cars unlocked during play. However, disposing of a car also penalises the player 10% of the Kudos earned in that car. This is intended to encourage the player to switch cars less often, or to spend time in their preferred car on lower Chapters later gaining higher Kudos results.

Music

MSR was also the first racer to have a radio stations and deejays talking before the music. Much of the soundtrack was satire for popular acts such as Barry White and Will Smith.

Differences between releases

MSR was released three times in total. In order to meet a late-November 2000 deadline in the UK, Bizarre Creations released a game which had a number of noticeable bugs.

UK First Release Bugs

  • After some time of playing, Tokyo races would always be at night.
  • Completing Championship challenges without the required number of points would be considered successful nonetheless.
  • The game would sometimes corrupt VMUs.
  • The "Quick Race" screen in the multiplayer mode would be blank.
  • When using a keyboard to enter names etc., the keys were mapped incorrectly. Pressing C would give B, pressing B would give A etc.

Shortly after MSR's release, Sega recalled the first batch of games and promptly released a new version without these bugs, although some minor ones remained.

Again because of time constraints, the final UK version of MSR did not include a replay feature, despite the fact that there was a replay viewer and copies sent to magazines for review included the option. This version contained pre-recorded races, but nothing else. The US version, released later, did have a replay feature.

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