Talk about an ambitious title. Take the deep plot of Grand Theft Auto, but replace gangs and violence with high fashion, style, and the “beautiful” people. Then, put it on the N-Gage. This could’ve been the most disastrous game in ages, but defying all odds, Glimmerati is one of the most intriguing, unique, and playable games ever made for N-Gage.
The story goes that you’re a wealthy heir who stumbles upon another rich aristocrat one day. He likes your driving skill, and invites you to be a trial member at Club Glimmerati — where celebs of all types (rappers, moguls, etc.) meet to race around public streets with disregard for the peons who inhabit them. Oh, and did I mention this is far from a sausage factory, as there are blazing-hot women who are just as likely to make you eat their dust?
There are essentially three game types: racers are typical lapped encounters against the field. You need to make the top three to move on. Challenges are one-on-one encounters against other members. If you win, you’ll get a new car to add to your collection. These are quick and dirty races which often take multiple tries to memorize the course enough to stand a chance. One negative to Challenges is that, once you unlock a new ride, you’ll likely never touch the old ones. That’s because each car in sequence is better than all those before it, making the others obsolete.
The final type are missions, a la GTA. As this is a nonviolent game, they’re basically of the pick-up and deliver variety. Pick up Maxwell’s wife while he’s busy uh, “tending” to his secretary. Race Penelope to her friend’s bar in a dash to see who gets a drink named after them. Stunt drive in B Dome’s music video shoot while staying in the chopper’s spotlight. It’s all very E!-network fare, but it adds a different dimension to the racer, and helps sell the glitzy gimmick.
Every race is done in a top-down perspective. Not only does it really suit the N-Gage screen, but I’ve always been partial to this viewpoint. Previous games that have used it, such as Peak Performance for PSone and the TurboGrafx’s Moto Roader, caught my attention in their day, and I’m glad to see this view make a comeback.
The racing itself is done well. It’s simple to control, but you need quick reflexes to react to the twists and turns that jump out at you. Sometimes there’s traffic to deal with; other times you have to pick the best route. When you get into other vehicles, like the limo, the controls can take a turn for the clunky, but you’re not behind those wheels enough for it to be a detriment. I admire the fact that you can bang around with the AI drivers and not have to worry about losing respect or any crap like that. You do whatever you can to win, and the computer respects that.
Graphically, Glimmerati is bling-blingin’ it. It uses lighting in clever ways that you don’t often see on this level of hardware power. The environments are very attractive, and everything flies by at a steady clip. Cutscenes show how crisp still images can look on the N-Gage.
The audio is impressive as well, but there are concessions. Voiceovers accompany every piece of text, which is quite an achievement. However, the voice acting itself is a little on the cheesy side — negating the sexiness or street cred of some of the game’s characters. The sound quality of the music is also admirable, but I wasn’t a big fan of a lot of tracks. Still, the fact that they sound this good will rock your socks off.
Glimmerati is the perfect portable game. It works for five minutes or a few hours. The multiplayer allows you to tangle with buddies, and there are some cool Arena features. It looks, plays, and sounds great, and the story mode works well. Kick the tires and light the fires on this one, N-Gagiacs.