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(Pocket-lint) - This latest offering from Ubisoft is a typical street racing game based in the US. It’s crammed full of spectacular crashes and dangerous weapons, and is interlaced with commentary and narration in incomprehensible urban street talk. That part of the game is fantastic - 10/10 for collisions and explosions. Unfortunately, there isn’t that much more to it.

187 Ride or Die clearly draws on the recent successes of other games based around hip-hop, such as GTA: San Andreas and Def Jam Vendetta. While this guarantees a familiar and yet unique game, 187 doesn’t contain the same mood and character which made forerunners in the same genre so successful. It is still great fun for a few races, but it quickly begins to repeat itself.

Essentially, 187’s a grown-up Mario Kart - just less banana skins, and a few more rocket launchers. While racing, you can shoot in front or behind yourself at other competitors - who can also fire at you. The aim when firing is to blow up the rival car. The racing is relatively easy. The controls are pretty standard, and so there is practically no learning curve. While driving, you have to avoid strategically placed explosives, and pick up weapons to stand a chance of reaching the finish.

One particularly annoying aspect of the gameplay is that no matter how well you drive, no matter how many power boosts you use or corners you turn perfectly, there is always another driver right behind you. This feature defeats the object of a racing game, rendering 90% of the race irrelevant - the outcome only decided in the last 15 seconds. That said, the overall racing/shooting experience is thrilling and fast paced.

It’s unfortunate then, that the game proceeds on such a linear route. Each mission is virtually the same as the last - same car, same weapons, similar track. The storyline is incredibly thin, and seems to exist just to fill loading times. There is therefore practically no development or progression. This key flaw really lets the game down - changing what would have been a really good game into just an OK one.

As well as the conventional single player mode, 187 provides some interesting alternative modes. As well as a speed race, there’s a demolition derby style mode - equivalent to ‘Battle’ in Mario Kart. There is also an entertaining police chase mode, where the aim is simply to loose the ‘Feds’.

One of the main reasons for getting 187 Ride or Die would be the multiplayer mode. Up to 8 people can take part at one time, 2 in each car, one shooting one driving. Whether you’re playing with friends in your front room, or over the Internet with strangers, the multiplayer mode does not disappoint. Even though the multiplayer option simply offers what’s available for single players, development and storylines are not important (and at least whoever’s right behind you will be a fellow human being) - and so the game shines.

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187 Ride or Die is a perfect example of a game which could so easily have been amazing, but simply tries too hard to be up-to-the-minute. In doing so it lacks depth and imagination. ‘Mario’ games concentrate solely on exciting, fun game play, and not on what sounds, or looks good at that time - and they have stood the test of time. 187 Ride or Die is good fun for a quick race, or a multiplayer, but unfortunately lacks a few of the key ingredients which could have made it a classic.

Writing by Pat Cahill.