European Street Racer 

Not noted for his love of speed, Michael Fereday checks out a street racing game.
London Paris Berlin
Moscow Madrid Hamburg
Click image to enlarge

ESR, or if you prefer the full title of European Street Racer, is a game developed by Team 6 and published by XIDER Games. As its title implies, this game involves racing around the streets of various European cities such as Moscow, Warsaw, London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Hamburg. Starting off with a fairly basic vehicle, although this is no slouch in the speed stakes, your performances will earn rewards that can be used to improve and modify your car for better performance on the road.

However before you reach the stage of testing your road racing skills; you will have to endure an installation process that could help stretch your patience to almost breaking point. The installation starts off by requesting registration details (normally this occurs after the installation has finished) but you can skip past this and start the transfer of files. Attempting to install the program on my laptop took over 27 minutes. To be fair this time was reduced to around 8 minutes when I switched to a desktop system. DirectX 9.0c will be required and is included on the CD.

ESR does prefer having access to an on-line connection but is willing to operate without one. Profiles can be set up for individual players with difficulty levels of easy, normal, hard or very hard levels. Profiles will hold the records of individual players' performances and any cash earned.

When setting up your car for racing it must be remembered that this is street racing with all that entails. You will have to contend not only will other racers taking part but normal traffic, pedestrians, lamp posts, letter boxes and other items normally found on city streets which have not been designed for high speed racing. If tagged by a speed camera you will need to pay a fine and you must pay for any damage to non-competing cars.

Controlling your car during races is via the keyboard. The arrow keys act as your steering wheel while the space-bar provides hand-braking facilities as you navigate through the city streets with London being the initial challenge which you must win in order to proceed. As the vehicles used have been adapted for racing, you have access to nitro-enabled speed burst by using the Ctrl key. Function keys can be used to change the camera view while you can turn the car lights on or off; use the rear view mirror; and sound your horn although I have yet to observe anybody taking any notice.

The game's graphics are of a reasonable standard, although I did detect some screen flicker, with realistic scenery and animation. While I can not vouch for the accuracy of other cities, the

London Street layout was convincing. Damage caused on one lap will be reflected in subsequent laps. Crashes seem to be a regular occurrence especially when I am driving and other competitors try to take you out of contention. Sound effects are fine although the default driving music is not to my taste. Fortunately you can switch to using music more to your taste by adding tracks to the appropriate folder. I do have one criticism regarding the frequent "Wrong Way" messages which would appear even if you were shunted backwards following a collision.

Priced at £19.99, ESR requires Windows 2000 or later. System specifications include a 1GHz processor, 256MB of RAM, 1GB of available hard disk space, DirectX 9.0c and a graphics card with 64MB of RAM.

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