Do you dream of rolling out of bed at eleven at night to join the world of illegal street racing in Los Angeles while betting against competitors and having more than a dozen generic girlfriends to start each race? Street Racing Syndicate has all the fun of a solid, easy to play street racing game with a lot of open world frills to keep it interesting. Its a deep game full of customization, unlockables and still everything feels like an earned reward from winning a bet to unlocking cars, girlfriends and videos of them.
You have an open world Los Angeles at night. A big broad area that strays from details like side streets and allies. There is plenty to do here and I’ll start with some of the side missions before I go into detail about everything else. You can find street challenges from cars that just sit waiting for you to offer cash in an open circuit challenge one-on-one. On the road there are other vehicles looking for a race. Get up behind them, flash your high beams and its on. Outside of racing there is a garage, a dealership, the warehouse where all of the women are stored and even three cruises that let you soak up the city as your car drives for you. Its a good use of the game’s city.
For anyone that wants to get to the event rather than drive to it, the game lets you have that option with the map. The sad thing is nothing is on your mini map. You need to hop in the big map and select your next location in a menu and whether you want to jump to it or drive.
Since this is an open world, there are cops here and there. Police never interfere with races, but when you’re outside a race and you speed by, they’ll chase you. These chases have a meter how close you are to escaping or being busted and I say this meter and the game itself is glitched here. I’ve been in front of police cars and hear over the radio that they can’t find me. Other times I’ve been busted with the cops far behind me. Its a toss up whether this is bad or good, but just take it easy around police. The game will warn you when they’re in the area.
The bulk of the game is in crew meets where you race in a series of three different races on three tiers. Each race and tier takes place in the same area, so it modifies the course a bit each time. It makes for thirty-two races in four areas from the start. Before each race of the series, you can select to place a side bet with one of the three competitors. If you beat them, you get the money and if you lose, then it costs you.
A nice touch is being able to see the stats of the vehicles you can bet against. I say just bet the one offering the most money. As they win or lose through betting, their cash will increase or decrease, so it turns into an issue of beating the same person means others will have more money by the final race. Its incentive to bet against others.
To unlock the next tier, you need cars with a minimum horsepower and you need enough respect. This respect is earned by winning races and you can get some bonus respect here and there for slides, near misses, overtaking competition and some air off of a bump. If you knock into anything before your respect is calculated you lose it, but its no big loss since winning races gives far more respect.
Women and racing have always gone together, but wow does Street Racing Syndicate plaster them all over the game, its menus and on its streets. It makes the game different in a laughable, offensive or great way depending on your perspective. The women offer a variety of challenges. Everything from checkpoint rallies and big air competition to chasing them in their own street rides. Once they become your girlfriend they then hang out at the warehouse. Your own harem of women that you select one to roll with who will drop the go signal at each race. For those out there into videos there are provocative videos of the real women these girlfriends are based after. Someone had to chose to put these videos into the game. It goes a step beyond and an extra frill to keep you in game.
Street Racing Syndicate blurs the line for me between an easy to play arcade game and more of a realistic game. Your car takes damage and after enough damage your car starts to drag a little. You can either instantly repair it at any event or you can take a drive to the only garage in the city. These repairs cost money, so try to stay away from obstacles.
Nitrous is a luxury instead of a given, because you need to buy it at the garage. Using the nitro boost is still a challenge, you need to hold it down to see any significant momentum, because when you use it, your opponents will too. Its easy to just forget about it until the top tier races at the crew meets.
On the mid tier races, your competitors are like jackals that hang around you, waiting for the proper moment to overtake you either with a mistake or a wide straightaway. This pushes the pace and depends you to avoid making major mistakes. The intelligence of the others feels top notch. They can avoid my reckless driving and compensate for a lot of different factors. Its very subtle and you need to go to great lengths to reveal it.
I need to speak up about one crew meet that drives on an abandon racetrack at dusk where the sun is right in your eyes. The flare is giant and as a human I have a difficult time seeing through it. To the game’s credit, there’s nothing to bump into as you stare at the sun, but you can miss a hairpin turn and slam into a wall. Another thing that the game loves to do is put civilian vehicles in front of you going into turns. I’ve lost the final few seconds of mid tier races thanks to a well timed taxi.
The customization goes to the furthest depths of the deep end. You can get lost looking at all of the ways to customize the look of your car. Spoilers, stickers, paint jobs, body kits, electronics, lights and so on. That’s just the look though, you can upgrade each of your fifty unlockable cars with engines, mufflers, exhaust, and everything else that I will never fully understand. All I know is that each thing costs money and tweaks the stats ever so slight.y
With all of these upgrades and even purchasing vehicles, the worst part is the navigation to do so. You look at manufacturers and then you look at the parts. Switching between parts creates a load image so you need to remember which part had what stats. I wish there was just an easy way to see what I needed or even to compare them.
On the plus side there are a lot of real world vehicles and companies. So many get stuffed into this game that it almost feels like an advertisement complete with billboards.
Outside of the real game is an arcade with a few different modes and races. These are one off events that take place in Miami, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. I’m happy to have Miami, because its the only city that yous race in the daytime. It makes the city feel far different than the other two and lets you see its beauty rather than darkness. You can unlock plenty of new vehicles in the arcade. I’d love to unlock new cities, but with four hours in, I’ve seen no hint of such a thing.
The game allows for controllers and controls easy with them, but the menus are still listed as keys so you need to remember what you have them set as.
Street Racing Syndicate is a fun, engaging, immersive and well comical game with its overuse of certain things. Well worth the cheap asking price.