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Jet Set Radio Future

Review By:  Nick Arvites

Developer:   Smilebit
Publisher:   Sega
# of Players:   1-4
Genre:   Action
ESRB:   Teen
Online:   No
Accessories:   N/A
Date Posted:  

6-27-02

One of the more memorable games on the late Dreamcast was Jet Grind Radio. This game was the first to showcase cel-shading animation on any console. Jet Grind Radio also caused a stir over the "glorification" of graffiti. The powers at Sega decided that slapping a disclaimer before the game starts can fix any problem. While many games that start controversies can be quite lame, Jet Grind Radio proved to be the diamond in the rough in the Dreamcast’s game library. Naturally, Sega decided to churn out a sequel for the Xbox gaming system named Jet Set Radio Future. It manages to capture the same charm showcased by the original game as well as making a few updates for the future.

Cel-shading has caused quite a stir in the gaming world recently thanks to Nintendo’s announcement to use cel-shading techniques in the next Zelda game. For some reason, people seem to forget that there are cel-shaded games out in the world and that they actually look great. Jet Set Radio Future looks excellent. Hands down, this is one of the finer looking Xbox games out there. Sure, it doesn’t look realistic, but this game is not designed around a realistic world. Since the characters are exaggerated and humorous, why should the graphic style be serious and stern? The colorful graphics match the colorful world. Speaking of the game world, the world present in Jet Set Radio Future is massive and completely connected. It is a massive city with people everywhere. Thankfully, the problems of graphical slowdowns have been solved in this game. The graffiti artwork in this game is extremely colorful and matches the world. Objects also seem more dimensional in this game. Everything had an almost paper look in Jet Grind Radio, but objects and people now look like they have depth.

The gameplay for Jet Set Radio Future is one of those styles that people either love or hate. If you’re looking for a realistic inline skating game, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a genuinely fun game, this is your stop. You skate around areas of the city and spray paint graffiti. Tricks can be performed, but they are done automatically by simply jumping into the air. Grinds are also automatic. You have to land on a rail and it automatically grinds until you decide to jump off (or the rail ends). You do not have to worry about landing tricks or balancing it. This simplistic game design is one of the major reasons some people do not like this series. However, I think that a realistic skating scheme in Jet Set Radio Future would take away the enjoyment of the game. Without having to worry about landing grinds and tricks, players can become immersed in the game’s environment and spend more time looking for places to spray paint.

The level design bears a striking resemblance to the stages in the Dreamcast game, but they are massive and contain additions. There is only load times when going from one area of the city to another. Even then, the load times are not that long. The city itself is as colorful as the characters and each section has a different style of environment. The city was created in great detail and players actually feel like they’re in a city, not a generic neighborhood.

The create-a-graffiti option is done well. Players can design their own graffiti designs for use in the game. You can choose a variety of colors and sizes. While it can be hard to create great looking designs, the feature is still fun to play around with.

New to the series is a multiplayer option. One of the major problems with Jet Grind Radio was the lack of a multiplayer mode. Jet Set Radio Future adds a multiplayer mode. While it isn’t a cooperation mode, it does pit multiple players against each other in a variety of contests. Its fun, but somehow isn’t as addictive as Tony Hawk 3’s multiplayer modes. Hopefully in the next installment, a cooperation mode is added.

The soundtrack of Jet Set Radio Future is decent. If you cannot stand techno, mute the TV and put on your own CD. Like the original game, Jet Set Radio Future only has techno tracks. While they are decent, they can get repetitive and near annoying. My major problem is the fact that the Xbox hard drive is not utilized for custom soundtracks. Addictive games like this almost scream for custom soundtracks, and for some reason developers do not utilize the feature.

Highs:

  • Addictive
  • Great use of cel-shading
  • Incredibly fun
  • Massive levels
  • Added multiplayer mode

Lows:

  • Even though it's great, it makes me wish for a realistic inline game
  • Soundtrack gets annoying
  • No Cooperation mode

Final Verdict: 

Jet Set Radio Future further proves why Sega is one of the top developers out there. They manage to bring a great looking and addictive game to life on the Xbox with only minor errors (like an annoying soundtrack and the lack of a cooperation mode). If you own an Xbox, you should buy this game.

Overall Score: 9.5

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