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Taking A Tour Through RayCity
EA Seoul published a new MMO for gamers called RayCity. It’s a free-to-play driving game that features everything gamers would expect from an open-world MMO, except it’s all about driving.
It’s hard to say if this is a game worth recommending because it’s a game that will appeal only to a certain niche kind of gamer and even more than that, a niche kind of racing gamer. This puts RayCity in a difficult light because it truly is an original free-to-play title but given its odd conceptual structure it makes it difficult to praise the game as an effective multiplayer racing game.
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Most online racing games are focused on player-versus-player bouts; racing scenarios focused entirely on a group of gamers in lobbied rooms going against each other on various tracks. Games like UpShift Strikeracer and Project Torque (or Level-R) maintain the above concepts for online racing and they typically work well.
Play Park’s RayCity turns things around by removing lobbies for majority of the game. Instead, it focuses more on open-world questing using the cars. This is a good and bad thing mainly because it offers gamers something completely new as a quest-based driving game yet the downside is that there’s very little interaction with other players.
The concept actually stems from EA’s own Need for Speed: Underground, in which quests and races were littered throughout the city where players could pick them up from various NPCs. For player upgrading, car tuning and unlocking new abilities this concept works well for RayCity but it tends to draw a lot of players away from one another, limiting the multiplayer interaction greatly.
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There’s not much to knock in RayCity when it comes to actual gameplay. The car physics are of the arcade nature and funnily enough there are certain car skills available that allow players to hop or jump using the car. The jumping skill is mostly essential for hopping other cars during missions or grabbing additional coinage and power-ups to replenish the bar for turbo and other skills.
Navigating the city is easy enough and each car has its own minor mechanics for maneuverability. Like most other racing games players can drift, burn-out and perform a variety of other basic vehicle moves, including additional skills like strafing left and right to quickly get out of the way of competition or traffic.
The actual game is played by driving up to NPCs and taking on quests in the open city environment. Various NPCs will reward players with new items, gear or upgrades or just additional experience or money. The process of playing through missions works well enough and it melds nicely with the control scheme.
For the player-versus-player rounds the game behaves decently enough with only minor lag interrupting the flow of the matches. Of course, players with higher level cars are always going to take the lead but depending on the track and the skill of the player will determine who takes what position on the final lap.
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As much as I would like to praise the game’s quest setup – which takes place in an open world setting – the biggest drawback is that many of them are exactly the same. This is not to say that all quests are the same but most of them consist of drive from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ with minor conditions such as not crashing or not swerving too much, etc.
There are a few noteworthy quests that include out-running opponents, or chasing down criminals but the really intense quests are of a rare breed. And even though players can party at any time during the game there isn’t a whole lot of player interaction unless players head to the garage area and setup a racing match.
The only upside to questing is that it adds to a player’s experience and to the car’s experience, allowing for new parts to be unlocked or accessing new areas of the map. Otherwise, though, quests are just way too repetitive in this game and unless you happen to be a very patient gamer you’re probably not going to find the quests in RayCity all that exciting.
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Graphics And Sound
The game runs very nicely and even gamers with a fairly low-end computer should be able to pull off RayCity with decent performance in tow. The lighting, car reflections and city detail are all handled quite well with commendable visual integrity.
The building reflections are especially eye-catching given that if players spend a little time to stop and survey the area you’ll notice that the urban structures and concrete jungle really feels authentic and the developers did an excellent job of conveying a very believable driving atmosphere.
The car and truck designs are worthy of fair praise, as well. Although, I can’t say that any of the vehicles are on visual par with those of Project Torque, they are at least designed decently enough to appeal to the standard gamer.
Gamers not too keen on Korean pop-rock will probably find the game's music annoying and worth turning off. Alternatively, the game offers up the option to import your own soundtracks so you can rock out to whatever rocking beats thump your drum.
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It’s hard to say that RayCity is the kind of game worth recommending simply because it does something a little different with its open-world driving concept. It’s free-to-play but it’s not entirely competitive. Fans of tuner mods and neck-to-neck racing won’t find a lot of it in Raycity because the game is more-so focused on picking up quests from NPCs around town rather than burning rubber against other players.
What PvP elements that are in place are far and frequent and anyone coming off of a fast-paced racer like Upshift Strikeracer, Drift City or Project Torque will find the pace in RayCity somewhat disappointing. Still, if you’re the kind of gamer that prefers the look and feel of heavily customized cars but don’t want to always have to feel like you’re eating the dust of opponents who utilize their twitchy-fingered car skills better than you, then I suppose RayCity might be the better route to go.