|★ AMSTRAD CPC ★ GAMESLIST ★ 4X4: OFF ROAD RACING (c) EPYX ★|
Jeeps and buggies all souped up: thousands of horse power unleashed in crazy contests over insane terrain. It's no longer just man against man, but a challenge to nature itself, with the elemental forces of wind, rain and sun defied in a lust for glory. Well, that's the theory anyway.
If it's racing of that calibre you want yon a do better to watch Grandstand, because it ain't here, for sure. The essence of the sport is the headlong dash into the wild unknown, and without this spirit of high adventure, 4X4 loses its only chance. The game starts well enough, as you first choose your vehicle, then the course over which you will race. You choose: a petrol guzzling tank, or a lightweight, but fragile roadster? A jaunt down Death Valley, or a spin in the ice swept wastes of a Michigan winter (like Britain only warmer)?
Then you customise and equip the car in the car mart and custom shop, presented as a shop front scene. Using a pointer to buy bits for your motor (no fluffy dice or purple tiger skin seat covers available). Only trouble is. there's a volume/weight limit for each vehicle. Sacrifices have to be made and you have to leave certain mechanical spares behind - decisions which return to haunt you.
It is only after this pleasant diversion (which soon bores) that the game starts on the slippery slope and proceeds to skid down into the mud below. It's time to start the race, an event, heralded by the thud of your chin hitting the floor in disappointment. The graphics are blocky. bitty and badly drawn. The well illustrated racer chosen many moons before has obviously been traded In for some beaten up old jallopy of vaguely the same design.
The race screen itself is no more than blocks of unshaded, uninterrupted, uniform colour. The lack of variety is a warning sign for what follows: it may be colourful instantly but it carries on in that fashion, the same colour, seemingly forever.
The track is littered with boulders and other obstacles appropriate to the chosen terrain. The major obstacle to be avoided at all costs, though, is the dreaded kamikaze cactus, which cause you to explode and lose one of your three lives. Evil little critters, these cacti: they move and flicker, making it hard to avoid them at speed. Funny old world: steel car hits boulder and minor damage is caused: steel car hits vegetable matter and the car explodes!
The other hazards are not much more than an inconvenience - rivers which slow you up and occasionally the car getting stuck in water. The track bends but never that sharply, and even when you reach the crest. of a hill and the far side is blind the danger is never that great.
The pit repair sections could have been great, but they ain't. When the car breaks down a repair screen shows what's wrong, and what you've got to fix it with. If you have already purchased the right part for the job at the auto-mart you're fine, but if not the only option open is a stop gap repair, chosen by indicating the hammer symbol on the tool shelf (now that's my kind of maintenance). This may not work for long (if at all), and no sooner have you rejoined the race then it's time to return to the repair screen, and you want to use that hammer for something completely different.
Certain parts of this game are terrific, such as the loading tune, which reminded me of the Wizbit theme (hands up all Paul Daniels fans, both of you), and the splashing sound effects for the river. These and other good points are heavily outweighed by the dull and the bad: different situations have no great effect on the driving of the cars; courses are monotonous and feature no great tests of skill, apart from the dodging of obstacles and that rarest of sights, a fellow competitor. Even this simple pleasure is repeatedly interrupted by forced visits to the repair shop. It's a hard game to win, not because of the skill required, but because you have to stifle yawns and defeat your boredom.
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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.