Though the publisher claims a total of 22 racing environments, the truth is that all 22 are marginally altered derivatives of the same seven thru-the-street circuits. It is safe to assume, then, that most drivers will have seen just about everything there is to see within their first couple of hours at the controls. As for gameplay variety, drivers do have the choice of standard quick race, time attack, and eliminator modes. Yet the game's central component, the career mode, is anything but. In Ford Mustang's career mode, you do not graduate through the ranks as you would in most career modes. You do not upgrade your car, manage your money, hunt for sponsors, or participate in a variety of series. Standings and the relative money winnings of each driver are not recorded. Instead, you merely try to win races to unlock new cars and tracks. That's all there is to it. The fact that many of the unlocked cars aren't as fast or as nimble as several that are available from the outset only adds to the disappointment.
Neither the PS2 or Xbox libraries are light on budget-priced racers, so there's really no need to waste your time with this one.
In a visual sense, Ford Mustang is equally disappointing. The graphics are, in a word, chunky--so chunky and jagged in fact that you'll have a hard time distinguishing one Mustang from another or an open road from a barrier until you're almost upon it. Most annoying is the PlayStation 2 version of the game, where the frame rate drops whenever the scenery gets busy or all three of your competitors are on the track in front of you. Granted, it's never so bad that you can't effectively drive, but for a game to look this primitive and this jumpy seems inexcusable in this day and age.
When your race ends, things go from bad to worse. If you want a quick restart, you're forced to endure a full track reload. If you've finished with a given track, you're forced to click through a hodgepodge of interfaces--one of which sends you to the replay screen even if you don't want to see a replay--just to get back to the track selection screen. Inconvenient? You bet.
Multiplayer racing adds a little spice to the proceedings, though even then you're limited to two human drivers and two forms of competition--quick race and catch-up race. The latter is especially fun, in that the race ends only when one player can grab a 100-meter lead and maintain it for 10 seconds.
Easy to learn, easy to play, and easy to afford, Ford Mustang: The Legend Lives is a barely tolerable, exceedingly temporary fix for the financially restricted racing beginner. The vast majority of console drivers, however, are advised to put the pedal to the metal in the opposite direction.