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Ludia’s The Amazing Race Game does a great job of capturing the spirit and fun of the CBS television show. If you are not familiar with the program, the premise is that 11 or so teams of 2 race around the world. The race is broken down into legs and the competitors must complete tasks while traveling from city to city. The last team to make it to the Pit Stop at the end of each leg may be eliminated from the race (there are a couple unannounced non-elimination legs).

When you first start this game, there is an opening title sequence just like the ones seen on the show. While The Amazing Race theme plays in the background, you are introduced to all 10 of the teams. On the main menu there are four options including Adventure, the single player mode, a multiplayer mode called Versus, a Quick Play mode which lets you access achievements and replay individual mini games, and finally Race Journal, which is a photo album of the countries you’ve visited. I’ll discuss each of these in more detail below:

Adventure (Single Player Game Mode)
This is the main single-player mode of the game. If you have not previously set up a profile, you will be asked to choose which team you’d like to represent (Soldiers, Goths, Athletes, Students, Ranchers, Hippies, Actors, Fans, Parents or Rockers). You then select how many legs you want in your race (5, 9 or 11) and the difficulty level (easy or hard).

In each leg of the race, you will be given some additional travel money, then:

  • Fly to a new city (Route Info task)
  • Perform Detour, Roadblock & Route Info tasks (these 3 items can happen in a different order in each leg).
  • Arrive at the pit stop and hope you are not in last place (or else hope it’s a non-elimination leg)!

For the ‘Route Info’ tasks, you are presented with a list of 4 different modes of transportation, ranging in speed and cost. The longer you wait, the prices will change, and the time you take deciding will affect your total time for the leg. Since you only have a certain amount of money for each leg/race, you need to decide between the balance of speed and cost. For the ‘Detour’ and ‘Roadblock’ tasks you must complete a mini-game designed to test your memory, ability to follow directions or ability to notice details. The mini-games are selected at random, but there are only 15 different ones in all, so unfortunately there is a lot of repetition. While the Detours offer you a choice of two different options, the Roadblocks don’t give you a choice.

At some point during one leg of the race, you may encounter a ‘Fast Forward’ task. In the television show, the team that successfully completes this task first, advances to the Pit Stop at the end of that leg, skipping any remaining Detours and Roadblocks. However, in this version of the game, winning the Fast Forward just subtracts some time from your running total for that leg of the race. The Fast Forwards task tests your knowledge of world geography–such as awareness of landmarks and flags. During the Fast Forward, some of the questions will ask you “choose which country”, but instead of giving you the names in text, they only provide you with the flags for those countries. So if you don’t know the flag, you will get the question wrong. Normally this would be fine, but there are also questions that ask you to choose the flag for a given country.

As you complete each leg of the race, you will see the current standings of all of the remaining teams. The first team to arrive at the Pit Stop will receive an extra $50 for the next leg of the race. In most legs, the last team to arrive will be eliminated from the race. The game ends either after the final leg of the race, or if you are eliminated before then.

Throughout the race, Phil Keoghan (the host of the actual show) provides narration, describing each location/landmark and providing instructions for each task. The on-screen likeness of Phil is very well done, right down to his signature raised eyebrow as he’s speaking. The graphics of each location and landmark are large and clear, and the music playing in the background adds to the thrill of the race.

Getting back to the other options on the main menu…

Versus (Local, Single-Device Multiplayer Game Mode)
(This is only available on the iPad version of the game.) Two players each choose from the list of teams and race at the same time (along with computer players for the other teams). During the Route Info tasks, both players compete at the same time, each using one side of the screen. Other tasks are also played side-by-side when it is possible to do so. Otherwise, the two players will take turns to complete their tasks. The game ends when one of the two players is eliminated from the race. It would have been nice to have the choice to allow the non-eliminated player to continue with the race instead of just ending it abruptly when one of the two players is eliminated.

Quick Play
Here you can see all of the mini-game achievements. You can re-play any of those that you have already accomplished. The achievements range from completing certain mini-games on both easy and hard modes, or completing them within a certain time. The achievements listed in the Quick Play menu are not integrated into any system, such as OpenFeint or Game Center. So there is no way to compare with friends.

Race Journal
This is a photo album where you can see all of the places you’ve visited, viewing photos and facts about each location. There are a total of 84 unique locations in 28 cities and 5 continents.

In Conclusion

The Amazing Race Game is very enjoyable and really brings the essence and feeling of the television show to the game. Having tried both the Easy and Hard modes, the Easy mode was a breeze to win the first leg and maintain the lead for the rest of the race. However, the Hard mode, despite being the same mini-games, was much more challenging. I would definitely recommend this game, especially to fans of the television show. The iPad-only release (reviewed here) is available for $4.99 and a separate iPhone/iPod Touch version can be purchased for $1.99, but it doesn’t contain the ‘Versus’ multiplayer gameplay mode.