Every racing game has to have its own "niche" in order to declare its individual uniqueness and to let it take a run at the Gamer’s Hall of Fame.
I mean let’s take a look back at some of the great ones. Ridge Racer for PlayStation brought us out of the era of two dimensional racing when it introduced its 3D escapade of race cars and cool environments. The Sega Saturn’s first "VRally" title set the pace for most "offroad" racers to come. Then came games like "Gran Turismo" claimed fame with its impressive "reflection images" and awesome replay. Other racers like "Need for Speed," broke into a new trend of sports cars and high speed shootouts.
Those are just a few of the great ones, but my point is that in just about all the great racing games you’re, gonna find that special touch of originality that makes them stand out from the rest. Well, fresh on the horizon is a new racer making its own tracks and kicking up a lot of dust as it races to win the hearts of extreme racing fans who like to live life on the edge. Most definitely living up to its name, Codemaster’s "Insane" Racing is truly just that. INSANE!
Taking the "XFL" approach to racing, "Insane" has little respect for the rules of the sport and gives all those crazed "Sunday Drivers" a chance to put their lead foot’s to the floor and create some serious INSANITY out on the track. I would not want to get behind the wheel with any of the developers over at Invictus if that is how they go to work in the morning! Insane puts racing lunatics in the world’s most extreme environments from the western canyons and African tundra to the grassy European plains – and foolishly allows them to get behind the wheel and drive like madmen! Shatter your suspension or mash your manifold jumping off hillsides, banging canyon walls, playing chicken with other drivers on the track, or nose diving into the rock-hard valleys below.
And if you survive through it all, when it’s over you and your buddies can point and admire the number of dents on your roadsters. As your car takes more and more damage, performance will suffer until you get repairs, which means you are sitting out of the action for a few seconds while your competitors are completing their objective. Or you can try to go on anyway. I once saw a guy win a race by crossing the finish line with only three wheels! His engine was running in the red and he was tearing up the grass under his exposed axle, but he made it across the line which is all the counts.
We can talk about the great graphics and sound quality of insane, or 1nsane as it says on all the license plates in the game, all day. But the key selling point of this game has to be the INSANE online multiplayer modes. Taking racing to the outer limits, Codemasters has added a touch of brilliance to extreme racing as they introduce multiplayer modes such as the Jamboree, Return the Flag, Destruction Zone, Gate Hunt, Free Roam and Capture the Flag.
Worthy of honorable mention is the "Jamboree" mode where you race against your friends to find the active gate and be the first to cross through it. Once you burn through it, the gate becomes inactive and another gate randomly lights up and you race for that one. The first one to reach the target number of gates wins.
Then there’s the "Return the Flag" mode where you obtain the flag and attempt to return it to the bonus area for points. No biggee right? Sorry my friend it’s not that easy because your buddies have the same objective in mind and have no problem plowing you over – sort of like a very deadly game of tag – to get that flag and get back to bonus area to get the points for themselves!
My favorite mode though would have to be the "Destruction Zone." A "destruction derby" type mode, you have to keep your ride from taking too much damage and attempt to stay in the "Circle of Death" for as long as you possibly can. The longer you remain king of the hill, the more points you get. You also get points for smashing your opponents, with more points for more damage. And you get a special bonus for rolling your opponent over. And trust me, ramming your precariously-balanced opponent off a hillside or cliff down to the rocky river below is almost as satisfying as the number of points you will get. First one to reach the target number of points wins.
As a special note, this game was tested with a group of people who normally don’t like racing games or play them – and they loved it! Multiple views and different game variants, in addition to cool graphics, make this a title that anyone can get into.
Hands down, Codemasters "Insane" portrays racing like no other racer before it, and has a very high replay value. No doubt in my mind this one’s headed for racing greatness. For all you "happy-go-lucky" drivers out there, here’s a good edition for your extreme racing libraries. I give this game 4 out of 5 possible GiN Gems for its strong multiplayer modes, cool physics, and it’s unique approach to racing as we know it. If you don’t like this game, you must be Insane!