Kinetica and XG2 Impressions

Hi everyone, Phil Fogg here.  In the most recent episode of The Game Under Podcast (Episode 75), I contributed to the body of lore surrounding Adam Orth and his contributions to the very first Sony Santa Monica game, Kinetica.

Tom Towers was disappointed that I had not yet tried the game, which is in my collection and includes a robust instruction manual and art book.

Feeling guilty I tried it out last night, along with a very similar game, Extreme-G XG2 for the N64.

The first thing I noticed about Kinetica, was that it had no online multiplayer, which was pleasantly suprising given Mr. Orth's commitment to always-on internet functionality being something that I had to "deal with". Which is a shame, since this game would have been more enjoyable if it was playable in a multiplayer setting.

Even now, 14 years hence, the menu's and overall introductory art was clear, thoughtful and suitable to the platform, as was the in-game presentation, including the audio design.

The game itself is essentially a mimic of Wipeout (the game, not the TV show). Personally, I'd have preferred a mash-up of both Wipeout's, or at the very least John Henson calling play-by-play for the game, but this was 2001, way before Wipeout revolutionized the form of television into what it has become today (no Wipeout, no Mad Men, no Breaking Bad).

The presentation of the game, in every aspect, is above average, but the inspiration and actual playing of the game is both rote and enervating. Pressing and holding the "X" button for an entire lap while mildly steering is not enjoyable, even on a base level.

It is baffling that Sony commissioned Santa Monica to make the game, when a full-fledged Wipeout was to be released the very next year. Possibly it was a training exercise, or a test of capabilities for the studio that would go on to make God of War and so many other truly original games.

All in all, I can see enjoying this at the time if I were a child with siblings, but even with that condition there were so many more superior racing games available (even futuristic zero-gravity type games).

In case you were wondering, Adam Orth was one of 22 QA testers assigned to the game.