Speed 3: Grand Prix (was there a previous 2?) harks back to the extreme arcade era of racing. Its unique selling point is that everything explodes at every touch and so any contact with a car or barrier results in fire, flying wheels and barrel rolls. I bought the game hoping it’d be a mindless romp with some action thrills and spills. Instead, the game barely gets off the starting grid.
Let’s start off by picking apart the problem with exploding cars. In order to do this, the game needs to be able to deal with flying carts and flames. Sadly, Speed 3 can’t. Every explosion causes an immediate stutter to the game and a really huge bomb sound effect that layers on top of itself to the point of sound bleed. The car explosions are comical but fun to see however the AI has the tiniest brain ever. They just stick to their line and smash into cars already on fire. They also veer left and right at random too so often they’ll veer straight into the crash to really cause some issues. Of course, the game can’t cope with the multiple explosions and so you may have stutters or freezes. It doesn’t matter if you are near from the crash or the other side of the track, it will affect you and that’s constant.
AI becomes a recurring problem with Speed 3. Whilst there are only 6 tracks (although each is reversed too), the AI lines for half of them contain issues. One track has a very quick chicane straight after the finish line and the AI cannot cope with it. They are still trying to get around it when I’m on lap 3 and that is unacceptable. It’s the worst example in Speed 3 but other areas have the same problem. Part of the problem may be the very boxy handling model that is dreadfully uninspired and unresponsive. Instead of taking corners like a curve, your car seems to act like a truck and squares off a corner instead. It flicks from understeer to oversteer with nothing in between. It’s unsatisfying to drive. Add on the stutters, AI, odd track design and then add in the shimmering graphics that feel like they’ve been lifted from 2004 and you have a game that misses on every single level.
Split screen 2 player mode is available in the game and it works at least. The single-player mode is a slog too as its a three championship ladder just racing around more laps of each track. There is no challenge to it at all as the AI can’t cope, so it’s a torturous waste of your time to get through. I’m still slowly finishing off the last couple of races as I write this review because I’m so close to saying I’m done. When I am done, it’s an instant uninstall and I’ll never be touching this monstrosity again. I cannot recommend it in any capacity, which is a shame as I think there is a market for over-the-top arcade racing. This is not the answer though. Avoid.
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