It's moved to a new platform and the name it on its license may have changed, but the Tokyo Xtreme Racer franchise is running on bald tires at this point. Import Tuner Challenge sets street racers loose on virtual recreations of Tokyo's major highways and while there's plenty of tire smoke, there's precious little fire.
You start out with some cash, a selection of similar sedans to choose and the first tier of specialty upgrades. The story, such as it is, is merely to climb the ranks of the racing underground in a quest to claim the top spot. Cars handle with sufficient variation, if not necessarily completely convincingly, and the experience of pimping them out with new engines, transmissions, vinyls and ludicrous spoilers sticks close to the crowd of tuner titles on the market. However, here there's considerably more freedom to scale, position, and flip your whip's adornments.
Import Tuner Challenge's tracks clearly shoot for realism, and they succeed on that score, at least insofar as one who's never driven in Tokyo in real life can tell. As invigorating as it feels, at first, to know that you're driving on real world streets, realism outweighs all considerations of gameplay enjoyment. Circling the C1 Loop time and time again can only remain compelling for so long, but it becomes even more repetitive than you'd expect simply because the mechanics of progress aren't varied in the slightest. Hop on the street, haul ass to the your nearest rival and race him until one or the other of you make enough mistakes to deplete your "spirit points."
Every few wins a mysterious and absurdly named stranger will roll up and challenge you; beat him and you'll unlock a few stickers and an unmodifiable custom car if you're lucky. Pull into parking areas for pointless non-tips and needless back-story on your silhouetted, personality-free competition; take on a few at a time in distance trials or SP runs. After dozens of races that vacillate from ridiculously easy to punishing difficulty, offering nothing in-between, maybe you'll unlock another stretch of Tokyo highway... that's virtually indistinguishable from the asphalt purgatory you've already run to death. The complete lack of any damage modeling doesn't help matters any.
Despite its lack of personality, variation or depth, Import Tuner Challenge isn't a terrible racer, and Japanse driving fanatics might get off on multiplayer duels and the realistically non-descript office buildings that pass for scenery - but just about anyone else is better off picking up one of the excellent racing games already available for the Xbox 360... or waiting for the next Need for Speed.