Racing games are a genre my feelings are mixed on. On one hand, I love the intensity, thrills, of them, especially in simulation games. On the other hand, they leave my perfectionist nature raging a lot in frustration where I wonder why I bother playing the game.. We are talking rage where I swear a lot. No other genre does that to me except for insanely hard games were you have to be prefect. So this was a game I decided to take a risk on and I managed to enjoy it.
Streets of Moscow is the sequel to Adrenaline/ A-Race Extreme that was basically had broken game-play that made it impossible to win a race. Thankfully, this time, it is playable plus it's fun. The game-play was simplified somewhat with a loss of the contract management but the game still can be fun. Single player story is about a player named Max who goes to see his girlfriend but she gets kidnapped. He joins the underground racing scene to find her.
Once the story cut-scene is over, your dropped into a sandbox map of Moscow where all the racing will take place. In the racing category, you can chose which race you want anytime with optional races to make money. Money is important for buying new cars and upgrading your vehicle or decorating it. You will also gain experience points which will allow you to purchase new items and at level 20, adrenaline powers that can relive a lot of frustrations. However because as the game auto saves when you make a purchase or if you finish or quit a race, you need to be careful.
Each race course takes place in a part of the city where you have to race down the roads to the finish line. I should emphasize following the roads as if you try to go off course or try to find shortcuts you will be penalized and have to go where you first went off road. It's reasonable but sometimes it can feel annoying. There are multiple types of racing modes from regular laps, short sprints, fastest lap, check points, open drive check points, and demolition derby. Weather and time will change in real time as you race and when you restart. This can me getting bad weather in a race that can both help and hurt you. Along with the customizable random traffic, you have a lot of replay value in each race that helps from things become boring.
The random traffic can bring down the frames in intense races sometimes as you will have 30-40 cars on screen, being smashed, along with your opponents smashing other cars. My frames would drops into the 15 range where it would appear as a slide show. It doesn't happen often but be ready for it. It is impressive though to see so many cars on screen at once which I have never seen in a game before. It does show the effectiveness of an open sandbox racer can added to the racing genre with AI vehicles that have their own routs that change, stop at stoplights, and try to veer away from you.
The game does have some annoying flaws though. One of these is dreaded car magnetism where sometimes when you hit an object you car gets drawn into it like a magnet and going around in circles. It can happen sometimes with vehicles but it manly happens with sidewalks. If if your car should be able to gt up on the sidewalk, it will get caught on hit and try to bring you towards it. Car magnetism is not a huge issue but an annoyance. Another problem is that depending on the race, sometimes your car will always lock up at the start were you will just be spinning your wheels. It happens in some races so I think this was intentional but annoying as when you factor in faster cars getting a lead, it makes things much worse. I have also noticed that turbo button doesn't always activate when you press it despite having plenty of adrenaline. I have found my self pressing the button three times before the fourth try would work.
A more annoying issue is cars drifting into yours. This happens only with NPC non racers were they try to get out of your way but do it in a stupid manner where they drift to where you will drive into. It's random but can be mind numbing frustrating when it costs you a race. A worse problem is that often racers will end up having better cars after you reach level 5. They drive faster then you with only mass traffic ends up being a mixed blessing. One you reach level 20 you can unlock shock wave which is a godsend ability. It flings cars away from your, often flipping them. It's mitigates all the frustrations you would previously experience. It sounds cheap and it does once you get turbo level two or shock wave 2. After that, the game becomes a dull mechanical game. I seriously was winning the game with a level 20 car with all my adrenaline abilities upgraded to 5 The end of the game is just going to a location and watching a cut-scene with 4 bonus races that take 5 minutes to drive though in each lap. After that, you can just fool around. You get no closure or anything.
The graphics are good when you have settings on max. It kind of looks like a 2006 game most of the time but in certain times and weather conditions, the game looks amazing like it's a 2007 game. This is when the lighting is just right. I say the graphics are mixed because plain colors often look flat and blend in with the shape of the car making it look flat. Metallic paint helps make your car look better though. Textures are average quality with good ones like roads cement structures, racing cars, and some buildings looking very detailed while others look a bit low res. To be fair, with the amount of action that can happen on screen and lots of AI actions taking places, raising the graphics more would raise the requirements of this game and probably prevent me from playing it. I can tell you that my PC still runs games pretty well.
Sound effects in the game are great. The gusts of wind when in turbo and the roars of engines, add to the intensity of the race. The music in the game is made up of a mix of in game music and Russian songs. The in-game music tends to be tame and sometimes feels a bit out of place with the action. Though with how intense this game can be, I guess some relaxing music can't hurt. The Russian songs on the other hand are more intense that get you pumped. I may not understand Russian and the songs may not be of great quality but they stand out in my mind when I think of this game.
Streets of Moscow is a surprisingly competent racing game. While it has plenty of bugs and unfair AI , these are not noticeable int he first five levels and when you reach level 20, you gain abilities to mitigate these factors. It is technically impressive for being a open sandbox racing game with 30 or more cars driving on screen at once. While it was fun at times smashing cars, and driving fast, it would also be a pain to. I have mixed feelings about recommending it as there are better racing games out their but this one has features I have not seen in other racing games. It's up to you to decided if you should buy it or not. I don't regret buy or playing this game though. You can get it on steam for $20 or on GamersGate for $10