Pros awesome phsyics, the best driving trainer on ps2, it's touge, drift mode, great graphics, combines simulation handling with an arcady feel, really deep tuning and customization, it's just a lot of fun
Cons random dirt on tracks can be odd at times, lacks quick race mode, poor AI, unable to set rain/snow on some tracks or any night/whether effects on short courses, you need to understand some basic car tuning/driving techniques to enjoy it
Summary Here's a real review of a truly unique game. The original name is Kaido Touge no densetsu, and this game actually touge(twisty mountain pass racing) and drifting.
The graphics are nothing to complain about. Cars look detailed and shiny. internal engine combustions, car rolling, skid marks, etc are all there. the courses are just beautiful and realistically rendered.
Sounds are really good. most cars sound reasonably similar to their real models. They also change as you modify the engine. I found the music catchy, eventhough a lot of people complained about it. One noticible thing missing is the beeping gear shift indicator that a real RX-7 has but thats a minor detail.
Customization is definetly a strong part of this game. There are some things that you can only do in this game that I know of which includes adjusting wing angles, wheel sizes, etc. Though if you are new, you'll probably be confused. My suggestion is to play GT first and memorize what doing things like softening the springs, dampers, stabilizers do. or you can look up a guide.
Gameplay is perhaps the most unique function of this game. This is one of the most challenging games ever. There are only 2 cars racing maximum(which makes it feel a lot like initial D). There is a really demanding drift mode where it's similar to GT5 except the you can't regain points for screwing up, and you can combo your section points. There are whether effects you can set to make things even harder, and they are required to finish conquest mode. There are basically 4 game play modes in this game: conquest, record challenge, record tour(odd rally), and vs mode. conquest is like a story mode where you earn cash at daytime sponsored events and compete against rivals at night.
The physics in this game is perhaps the best ever on ps2. Most people expect Need for Speed/Ridge racer type handling and can't handle them. There is no other game I know of that requires you to develop sensitivity to elevation changes during corners like this one. Not even hardcore sims like Live for Speed. You have to know how to handle cars similar to how they handle in real life. Every car feels different, and tuning further makes it handle really differently. Driving in stormy whether, rain, and snow feels different. You really get a more differences when you change differentials, suspensions, tires, etc. This is the only ps2 game that you can lock your brakes with the right settings. You can do donuts unlike GT4. If you get good at this game, GT4 and enthusia just become really easy once you memorize their tracks. I was scoring points in gt5 instore demo, from mainly this game's experience. Best way to learn to drift is by watching Keiichi Tsuchiya's videos.
900 degree force feedback steering wheel is supported good and responsive. feedback is stronger than enthusia and close to GT4. It swivels by itself when slipping, gets tighter as you speed up, and you can feel dirt and bumps on the road.
The courses ontop of physics, whether effects and unforgiving drift mode, make this one of the most challenging racing games ever. They are all based off actual japanese touge roads such as Akagi, Haruna, Shiga, Ura Rokko, Usiu etc. They are realistically rendered by a camera truck with every bump on the road. you can rarely get your car above 100 mph because of how bumpy and twisty they are, and when you can, it gets hard to control.
The story mode in this game is decent, but you don't expect or need much for a racing game. there are cameo characters from Over Rev and initial D. You also get more money by entering initial D names. You can occasionally make friends with them who let you borrow there cars. The odd thing is that dirt sections on roads show up randomly on night races. this is a mixed bag, it adds challenge but can also be annoying if you are not a fan of rallying.
Theres no quick race mode so you can only race a fan or rivals in conquest. AI for this game is a mixed bag. they do not always follow the same line like GT games, and seem faster after you take the lead. But they make way too many mistakes and brake while coming out of corners which makes them really slow. it's just annoying how they like to occassionally draft when they follow and just block your way when they are leading on those narrow roads. the only way to pass is often by bumping during the corners. having a like lifebar can make the game more exciting at times. The draw back is that sometimes cars can wear it out by over speeding you on straights in some courses, which is most noticible on Aso.
This game is not perfect but it's one of the best out there. It's probably not recommended for beginners and arcade racers. It may not be the best game to learn to drifter either since GT4, Forza & GT5 maybe easier beginner tools. This game takes things further. To add more it's only around $5 right now.