Tech News on G4
'Amazing Race' game fun for fans
Feb 17, 2011
By John Powell - G4 Canada
What's the next best thing to watching 'The Amazing Race'? How about playing 'The Amazing Race'?
While Canadians are still barred from participating in their beloved American reality shows such as 'Survivor', 'Big Brother' and 'The Amazing Race'- mostly due to taxation reasons - Ubisoft has brought the 'Race' experience home with their authentic simulation.
Hosted by a digitized Phil Keoghan - sporting new spiky pixelized hair - 'The Amazing Race' faithfully follows the format of the series with teams of two racing around the world to win cash and prizes.
As a party game, 'Amazing Race' has one unique quirk: it cannot be played solo. There are no A.I. players available to fill out your team if you are home alone. So, unless you are phenomenally well coordinated and mighty quick with those Wii controllers, you had better enlist some help from a friend before you start playing.
Since time is of the essence and nobody has a month to play out an entire season, the developers have allowed players to shorten the race itself to 5, 9 or 11 legs. In total, if you play a full season of 11 legs, you will visit 28 cities around the world. There are two modes of play as well. In 'Adventure Mode', you pick a friend and play as a single team. In 'Party Mode', one team of friends plays against another team of friends. You will also be asked to customize your team picking their gender and reality show stereotypes like "goths", "parents", "models" to define your outfits and the look of your team.
Whichever mode you choose, like the real game, 'The Amazing Race' is all about staying ahead of the pack by completing your travel and tasks ahead of the other teams. Take too long and you could be going home.
Like the television series, Ubisoft has included various stages in a race.
Travel Money: Teams are given travel money for that leg of the race.
Route Info: Teams compete to reach a destination. To simulate the travel decisions made on the series, teams in the game can opt to travel for free or use some of their money to get to the host city faster. Random factors also arise that can effect the speed of your travel.
Detour: Each team is asked to pick between two tasks presented and both players must compete in the chosen challenge.
Fast Forward: The winners of a trivia quiz - focused on the history, geography of the cities in the game - are awarded a two-hour time bonus.
Intersection: A task that all team members participate in at the same time.
Roadblock: A challenge that only one team member can perform.
Pit Stop: Is the final destination for that leg of the race. The first team to arrive might be awarded a special prize while the last team could be elimenated. In 9 and 12 leg races, there are non-elimination rounds where nobody is sent home just like on the series.
Finish Line: The team with the lowest time wins 'The Amazing Race'.
Whether they are Roadblocks, Detours or Intersections, the tasks will test your mental and arcade skills. You will be called upon to inflate balloons, win a tomatoe fight, find pairs-matches, calculate monetary values, skydive and find your way through mazes, etc. There is a good assortment of challenges but younger players may have a harder go of things and it would have been more authentic if, like the series, the tasks actually reflected the regions hosting them, like a sumo wrestling contest in Japan or a jousting competition in England, for example.
Through the unlockable Race Journals and Video Highlights, you will learn more about the regions of the world you are visiting, although there is no animation, video footage or cutscenes of the countries in the game itself. When you arrive at your next location, all you are greeted by is a still frame photo, a disappointing production shortcut that lessens the overall experience somewhat.
Granting it has a few blemishes, 'The Amazing Race' is a great companion to the series for any reality show fan and until Hollywood changes its rules, it may be the only way a Canadians can know what it is like to sort through bales of hay looking for a flag while Phil waits patiently at the Finish Line.
Reader Alert: The new season of 'The Amazing Race' begins this Sunday on CBS, with a cast of returning players looking to redeem themselves in the 'Unfinished Business' edition.
'The Amazing Race'
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.