Street Heat is a retro style, top-down racing game for up to four players. It can be played locally or online against fellow humans or computer-controlled opponents. The aim of the game is to score points by winning races and getting the fastest lap. After each race, a voting system allows each player to vote which track is next.
The moment the game starts you know you’re in for a 1980s revival. The music could have been taken from any 1980s movie montage sequence immediately getting you in the mood for some retro arcade action. The visuals do not disappoint either with a distinctive neon graphic art style mixed with black and white buildings reminiscent of Sin City. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into creating the right sort of ambience for the game. Time to put on the leg warmers and headband and get the party started!
The menu system is simple and easy to use. Choosing Local allows you to play offline with up to 4 players on the same computer either using controllers or getting cosy and all sharing the same keyboard. Yes, that’s 4 people on 1 keyboard! Online allows you to join existing online games and Create allows you to host an online game. There is also an options menu to adjust the game settings.
Gameplay is fast-paced and with few controls is easy to get the hang of. The cars drift around the corners which takes a bit off getting used to but becomes second nature after a while. There are a number of different tracks with different features such as jumps, train tracks and oil slicks adding an extra element of peril to the mix. This is a big part of the game as it is possible to die from falling off the map by either skidding off the track or not making a jump. Also if you get hit by a train it’s all over for that race. Against 3 friends the game is great allowing for hours of fun trying to smash each other off the track or into a train. The addition of the voting system for choosing the next track is a great idea to prevent those petty squabbles.
I have played the game for around 6 and a half hours now and have managed to get pretty good at it. Pretty good is nowhere near good enough though because the AI is just way too good! I won 2 races out of about 600 and was left feeling quite inadequate. With 4 human players, it’s fine because you can compete but add a computer opponent to the mix and you will lose every time. Sometimes you will die on the first lap and be forced to watch the AI complete perfect lap after perfect lap. On local play, it is not possible to turn off the computer controlled opponents which can be very annoying if there are less than four players. I’m sure these problems will be addressed while the game is in early access.
In conclusion, I found this game really enjoyable and it has a great deal of potential. The difficulty level is high but I’m sure the devs will make changes to this and despite it I found myself going back to the game over and over just to try and win a race! The addition of different cars with different handling characteristics may also be added in the future which is something I would like to see. The ability to change the number of AI opponents in local mode needs adding and also an AI difficulty scale of 1 to 10 so that the last place isn’t the only option.
The graphics are simple but striking and will not need a beast of a computer to run. I would recommend Street Heat to anyone that wants to sample what gaming in the 80s was all about or just wants to have fun racing their mates and occasionally smash them into a train!
Overall Score – 7/10