The term "budget game" has taken on a nasty vibe, and there's good reason for it. Too often discount titles simply don't deliver the goods&#Array;even when the rock bottom price tag is factored in. They're usually too short, too boring, too ugly, or too flawed. Accordingly, "budget game" has become almost synonymous with "it sucks."
Shows how wrong expectations can be. While L.A. Street Racing&#Array;a game about, you guessed it, street racing in Los Angeles&#Array;likely won't win any awards, it's far from a clunker. Indeed, one gets the impression that if developer Invictus was able to spend a little more time in the development and testing cycle, fleshing it out and subjecting it to a thorough beta program, L.A. Street Racing could have skipped the budget thing entirely and become a damn good "regular" game.
Politically incorrect at its heart considering the number of people who are killed each year in illegal real world street races, LASR nevertheless puts you in the shoes of an LA kid who lives for blasting through the thoroughfares of California's largest city.
Unlike games such as Test Drive Unlimited, LASR doesn't allow you to roam freely through your environment searching for likely participants. Instead, you select one of four locations within the city&#Array;called "rally points," and often situated outside a supermarket or shopping center&#Array;where street racers gather, and simply sit there in your idling car waiting to meet other horsepower-crazed punks. They'll drive up beside you, one at a time, and either offer to race you or hit you up with some unintentionally comedic broken English insult such as "Hey Mr. Honest. If you leave those principles behind you learned in racing school, maybe I'll race you."
This is easily one of the weakest concepts of the entire game, not only because it forces you to endure these oh-so-hurtful verbal zingers, but also because it often compels you to sit through a series of yawningly repetitive insults before someone actually decides to engage you in competition. Once they do, however, things get a bit more interesting.
When you race, you do so to forge ahead in the game's Ranking chart. The better your position, the more chance you have of advancing to the more prestigious rally points&#Array;the best being the super way cool "Village Motel"&#Array;and battling the elite drivers. The ultimate goal in this strictly two-cars-at-a-time racer is to go head-to-head with Matt Peacock, the head bird in the LA street scene.
But there's more on the line in each event than a better ranking. To make things really interesting, Invictus has also instituted a wagering system whereby the winner walks away with not only the thrill of victory, but also several items from the loser's ride. You don't have to bet, but if you do, you can upgrade your own car with a better muffler, a bigger engine, some new tires, some spiffy ground effects, or maybe some cool racing decals. This is the only way to upgrade your car and thusly the only way to even have a chance of beating the really fast machines.