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Speed Kings Package Art

Speed Kings

Acclaim Entertainment has created the best arcade racer for the GameCube. Unfortunately, it’s not Speed Kings; it’s Burnout 2. Speed Kings, developed by Climax in the UK is basically Burnout 2 but made to measure on a motorcycle. The problem is that all of the crisp clarity and stunning workmanship of Burnout 2 seems to have gone A.W.O.L. on Speed Kings. Whether or not it’s fair to compare this title to Burnout 2 is another story, but as a reviewer, I always set the bar with one game and see how the current game rates.


The first thing that I noticed with Speed Kings was that the game seems smeared in comparison to Burnout 2. Instead of crisp textures, sharp models, and all of the other great things that we saw in Burnout 2, Speed Kings offers blurry characters, smudged sight lines, and uninspired environments. It all seems like a version of Burnout 2 handcrafted in pastels.

As in Burnout 2, the blur effect when you hit the powerband feels extremely good on your eyes. The blurring here is done well and will give you that sense that your traveling at Holy Sh*t speeds.

The menu screens are more akin to BMXXX than the crisp and pro-looking menus of Burnout 2. What is more is that the animations and overall look of the game don’t seem as polished as its brother game; Burnout 2.


Instead of the wicked rock tracks that graced Burnout 2 there seems to be a bland mélange of sound effects and soundtrack here. Whereas the audioscape in Burnout 2 made your palms sweat as you flew through the mountains, the sound effects in Speed Kings really doesn’t give a sense of presence to the title.


Speed Kings’ basic concept is that it takes the formula that made Burnout so successful and transferred it to motorcycles. Now, in addition to nudging or “dinging” other vehicles and catching air, you can also perform some pretty cool stunts like handstands to create a “powerband” or boost meter that gives you blur boost.

I do feel that performing tricks on the motorbike felt cool; most wicked is sliding your bike underneath tractor trailers. That is nice! The other somewhat neat element is being able to kick your opponent ala Road Rash. You can’t do that in a car! However, I don’t feel that the “dinging” aspect that made Burnout feel on the edge transfers well in Speed Kings. Also, the overall feel of the gameplay is nowhere near as polished. In Burnout, the controls and general feel if the game are spot on. In Speed Kings, that feeling just isn’t there.

One thing that I did notice though is that Speed Kings (for whatever reason) feels more difficult than Burnout 2, more challenging. In this respect, Speed Kings tops its predecessor. However, the sense of speed seems off in Speed Kings.


There are five multiplayer options for you and your pals to fire through and as with all racing games, they are pretty fun. Once again, I had more fun with Burnout 2 but the motorbike makes for a nice twist in this multiplayer.


Burnout 2 feels like the perfect Arcade racer to me. It doesn’t need to rely on any upgrades other than the boost. It is a fast, kick-ass wicked ride that just kept me coming back for more. In short, it is an excellent video game and few games reach that status in my book. While Acclaim did a killer job harnessing and perfecting Burnout with Burnout 2, Speed Kings felt like a de-evolution rather than an evolution. Racers, give it a try; others should rent it first and see how you feel about it.

final score 6.0/10

Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
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"Lost like tears in rain"

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