The Future on Speed

Kinetica brings out your inner Tron


KINETICA for PlayStation 2, $70. Rating: NNN

GRAPHICS: As close to riding a 500-mile-an-hour underground roller coaster as you can get.

PROXIMITY TO THE REAL THING: See Tron comment below.

ADDICTIVENESS: High if you get off on headaches.

ANTI-SOCIAL FACTOR: Head-to-head action is the way to go.


if there’s one thing video games do great, it’s the future. Sure, you can have spot-on sports simulations where athletes look like the real deal, dancing games come with your own personal maracas and “choose your own adventure” epics force you to draw the shades and settle in for 12-hour shifts in front of the television.

But the real action is in predicting what the world’s going to look like 50 or 100 years down the line.

If the games being cranked out currently are any indication, we’re either in for the apocalypse or, in the case of the delightfully absurd Kinetica, a world where your pants replace your car and everything goes real fast.

Kinetica is like Tron but better, or at least better-looking. In some unnamed high-tech future world, you slip on an electrified pantsuit and race through futuristic-looking tubes in an odd mix of breakdancing and seizure-inducing roller-coaster rides.

As with most electronic glimpses of the future, the look is everything here. Things move at a blinding pace, and stomach-turning twists and turns are disturbingly realistic. I felt disoriented immediately, and almost blind soon after.

It’s more interesting to look at than to play, and that’s its main problem. In the wake of September 11, it sounds strange but the problem with Kinetica is that there’s not enough violence and mayhem. Whipping around in these tubes is fun but fairly pointless.

You go as fast as possible, try not to plow into the walls and hope to finish in the top three to move on to a different tube. The absolute mindlessness that could come if, say, you could blow your closest rival up or drive a fellow racer off a bridge is nowhere to be seen.

Instead, you’re stuck in a tube with 11 other man-machines. Sounds like a pretty boring future to me.

mattg@nowtoronto.com

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