Vanishing Point: The super fun racer that vanished without a trace

Vanishing Point has been long forgotten by gamers, left to gather dust on the backseat while the likes of Gran Turismo, Ridge Racer and Toca Touring Cars are remembered and celebrated.

But this surreal arcade-style racer, which was released 20 years ago, definitely deserves a revisit the next time you decide to fire up your sixth-generation era console of choice!

Visually stunning

Critically praised at the time of its release, Vanishing Point is certainly eye-catching.

Its name alludes to the game's environments, which boasts no pop-ups whatsoever and no blurring in the distance - which all extends out to the vanishing point on the horizon. This is something that other games like Grand Theft Auto and Need for Speed didn’t have at the time, and made VP a sort of racing game pioneer.

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SPOILED FOR CHOICE: Gamers had a huge list of cars to pick from

On top of that, VP really does look great. There's some beautifully crafted and heavily varied tracks - ranging from desert roads through to giant cities highways, complete with trains running alongside the terrain and planes flying overhead.

Then there are the cars, and while there isn't quite the range of manufactures found in Gran Turismo, there's still many of your old favourites. BMW, Jaguar, TVR, and Lotus are among them, and they're all impressively detailed.

Frustrating under the surface

What this game championed in graphics it lacked in physics - with some of the PlayStation’s wackiest driving mechanics we can think of. The horrendous self-centering third-person camera is the biggest problem, and often made the car feel like it was oversteering with every curve in the road. This meant the game could be horrible to play with the classic behind-the-car camera.

But even with the cockpit view, each car can be frustrating to drive and often meant you'd spin at least once or twice per a heat. This is especially torturous as races in the main tournament mode are all against a set time, and not a race against your opponents on the track. Confused? You should be.

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P A I N: Vanishing Point was full of frustrating moments

There are three heats in every event and you must come in 1st place to progress to the next heat. Failing to do so means you have to start from the very beginning again. So imagine the pain of spinning on the final corner of the final heat, dropping you down to 2nd place and meaning you have to go all over again.

Plenty to do

While you may tear your hair out at certain points, there's no denying that VP was a unique racing experience that could be fun to play and often rewarding.

Everything must be earned, each car has to be unlocked one-by-one and it's extremely satisfying when you finally nail-down your three heats and unlock an exciting new car.

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EARN IT: You had to unlock cars one by one

There's a lot of fun to be had in the game's stunt mode, too. Set your car up for a long jump, attempt a daring barrel-roll and then twist and turn your way through an assault course. It's all very exciting!

Left in the dust

While the visuals hold up rather well for a game that came out in 2001, it's fair to say that VP doesn't quite stand up against similar games like Gran Turismo 2, never mind 3 & 4.

The unforgiving race structure and the gameplay are two rather large roadblocks, and that's a shame. This is a cool-looking game, with a cool title, and one that could be revived successfully with just a few tweaks. But who's going to bother to do that? Aside from a few niche YouTubers, nobody is thinking about VP anymore. It's simply vanished into a point in the distance.

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