"Kinetica" is one of those PS2 games I had been hunting for for years. I had played a demo of this futuristic racing game (picture that cycle scene from "Tron," but going up walls and launching out of tubes and the like),but could never find it at a price I liked. The demo wasn't great, but I figured it would be a good $15 game. You can't really go wrong with games at that price. At the very least you can resell them on eBay to some shut-in collector from Nebraska.
Around the holidays, Gamestop.com (a store where being a dunce is a prerequiste for employment) had a PS2 holiday sale. Lo and behold, a used copy of Kinetica, sans original box and instruction booklet, was there for around $5.00. After fighting off seemingly endless hordes of Spanish speaking children, I grabbed the box and took it to the counter for the ever-important disc inspection. I bought it promptly thereafter.
Kinetica, as some may know,is also the name of one of Sony's game engines. It is the engine that powers "God of War," probably one of the most famous games using the engine. Of course, it also powers "Kinetica." Is that important? No, but you probably didn't know that before today.
As an arcade racer goes, this is standard, if not sub-standard stuff. Little customization, few tracks, and a difficulty that ranges from easy to maddening, often in the same season. There are racers and tracks to unlock, but nothing that is worth the effort (though some of the tracks are nifty). So what makes this game appealing?
"Kinetica" gets its strength from the concept. Racing up walls in a futuristic body suit or along glass tubes over a city is kind of cool no matter how you look at it. Launching off ramps and doing stunts has its appeal, too, but it's the concept and visuals that make this worth spending $5.00 on. (If you have 5.1 surround sound it'll sound pretty good, too ... at least before you start racing.)
The controls are easy to figure out. (Like I mentioned, I didn't even get an instruction booklet.) On the downside, the racer you choose doesn't seem to make a difference, either. At least the game is set up so that you have to figure out all the different aspects to racing (stunts, boost, proper brake use) in order to advance, but that can be frustrating as none of it seems all that polished. Winning a race actually seems more like luck over skill.
There will probably never be a sequel to this. If there is, I never heard of it and don't really want to. For a five spot, however, this is worth the time. Once I finish it, though, some kid from Nebraska is going to be one slightly happy camper.