I was not sure what to expect from this PS2 sequel. Despite that there was a lot that could have been improved upon in the original, I was not sold by this entry’s subpar title or the ugly and bland box art. Sure, one should not judge a book by its cover, but the first impression is still an important factor. To be fair, I became more positive when I saw that this racer was made by the same studio behind Motocross Madness 2, which is a childhood favourite of mine. Hopefully, there is something worthwhile here.
Driving safe and slow
Years have passed since the first game took place and you are ready to show how much of a force you are to be reckoned with in this “deadliest race”. After choosing your prefered avatar and vehicle, you are set to take on 13 courses with each containing three laps. Similarly to the predecessor, you take on each stage individually with a break in between for upgrading your pod. This is rather underwhelming this time around, as you simply buy stat points for enhancing either acceleration, top speed, handling, defence, repair or cooling.
Because of this straightforward setup being mixed with AI that is all over the place and clearly rubber band to give you poor illusions of victories, the tournaments are just arbitrarily difficult. What also hurts the experience, is the actual driving. You can certainly accelerate and brake, and returning from the previous entry is being able to repair your ship while moving, power slide, and boost. Each of your two engines has a health bar that gets damaged by each hit they take, and the moment one is destroyed; you have lost the cup. Although, you can hold in a button to repair them at the cost of your pace. Sadly, you still go fast to the point that the loss is barely noticeable, making this feel like it was not playtested at all.
Even worse, is the boosting. You can perform it whenever you want to by merely pressing L1, with a heat metre preventing you from overusing it. If your ride gets too warm, the motors will take damage. However, holding down both the button for this and the one for repairing your vehicle, will counter each other out and give you short bursts of speed. This is incredibly easy to misuse and basically breaks the game. Unfortunately, even without this flaw, the driving is sluggish and does not represent well the floaty nature of a pod, with the power sliding being extremely stiff.
It is obvious that aspects from the previous title have been simplified, but for tragic results. The lack of challenge is also a big problem, and only two courses had me on the edge at best. Although, you cannot retry any tracks, meaning you have to stick with the prize money you get after finishing each race for upgrading your ship. This is probably one of the few concepts I somewhat like for making you stick with the currency you have for enhancing your ride. Regrettably, the bad AI makes the difficulty still terrible, to the point that I even forgot that the lights under my health bars showcased if someone was behind me and where.
Another way to get cash is to take out any other competitors by slamming into them. This might sound entertaining, but honestly can feel cheap and is effortless to abuse due to being able to hold in the repair button. What is a big shame though, is that all of these issues could have been mitigated if the stages were at least solid. Sadly, out of the 13 levels, only five of them had decent variety with jumps, creative shortcuts, and nice layouts overall. The rest were just bland with shallow turns and corridors, nothing testing your driving skills. In fact, it was at times hard to tell if anything was improved upon Episode 1 Racer.
Despite that there are some attempts at streamlining mechanics for the better, these changes make the tournaments generic and nothing is done to fix the predecessor’s major flaws. There is barely anything done here to make it stand on its own, and the new ideas that are implemented positively fall flat. It is hard to get any enjoyment out of this title, and while I cannot say it is downright awful, it is an impressive feat to make speeding through a galaxy far far away dull.
Gameplay Score: 3/10
Cool rides on empty plains
It is difficult to comment on the visuals because of their uneven quality. This can already be seen in the cutscenes, since they are adequate with a bunch of colours and varied locations, but the CG technology itself is dreadful in terms of design and texture. Actually, the latter can be also said for the courses as everything is unpolished, with the sand in the desert looking drab and the water city appearing to be unintentionally destroyed, just to name a few. The diversity of each track is also generally lacklustre, except for the five final levels.
That being said, some of the stages are beautifully creative, like the mining city with lava surrounding it and the rainy jungle with caverns to go through. Unfortunately, nothing screams Star Wars and feels more like normal places one could find on Earth, with even some decorations being unimaginative. Especially the giant arrows pointing you in the right direction feel off and breaks the immersion, due to being a forced way to guide the player. The minimised map is truly more than enough.
All of these issues are made even more prominent thanks to the areas being reused at least once each, which is a disgrace for the few amounts there already are. I also believe the poor draw distance could have been masked more efficiently by using elements like fog or speed lines. Some effects are acceptable though, such as the weather changes and witnessing dust flying from your vehicles. However, the frame rate is incredibly inconsistent, and while never bad, it is odd that it could not have been more stable.
What is the only permanently good part about the visuals, are the inventive ships with different colours, designs, and contenders. All are unique from one another, even if they share subtle similarities, and it is lovely how all of them come with their own voices and animations, giving them some personalities. I also adore how you see them tugging each engine to steer their pods, which is a charming touch. Regrettably, that is all the positives I have for this part, with the menus being static and monotonous as well!
Not even the audio fare much better. The commentator is without any appeal and could have been replaced with anyone from an infomercial. It is a shame, as his voice is decent, but he is clearly reading from a script and adding nothing to the action occurring. Though the various racers offer a nice sense of character with their distinct screams and taunts against each other, providing to the atmosphere wonderfully.
Sadly, the sound effects do not. They are completely bland whenever the music cuts away, with nothing giving a solid impact of your speed or the area you are driving through. It should speak volume when even the engine is lacklustre to listen to. Giving some credit, the audio is affected whenever you leave tunnels or go through arcs, but that is about it. When the soundtrack decides to appear, it is all gorgeous orchestrated melodies by either John Williams or Mark Griskey. All of the tracks fit this universe with strong diversity and uses of instruments, but are reused often to make none of the courses stands out from one another. Why they also fade out randomly, is beyond me.
Presentation Score: 4.5/10
Time to retire
Besides the tournament, you can also race in practice, time trials, and single events. None of these is exciting and feels blatantly put in, to the point that time trials would have been the only worthwhile one to have for unlocking more avatars. These can also be acquired in the campaign and are creative in looks and designs, but they are not enough motivations to go through the main mode with all of the characters. Instead, it becomes simply a form of padding for getting more insufficient content.
The multiplayer does not even help, since it is merely a war of nutrition with the AI being just as much rubber band in this setup. It can be fun to destroy other competitors, but with solely one other friend to go up against, it will transition into an empty experience. To be fair, the art gallery is quite neat and showcases a lot of effort and ideas that went into this project, making me remember that talented people did work on this. I only wish that this was seen elsewhere too.
Extra Score: 2/10
I suppose there are clear reasons why this one will never get a remake. Star Wars: Racer Revenge is an absolutely forgettable racer with nothing to make it stand on its own or even average. It is basically as impressive as its box art by containing boring courses, lacklustre presentation, uninteresting mechanics, and no replay value. This is probably the worst Star Wars game I have ever finished. At least, as of now.