It seems that the PC gaming industry has finally stepped out of the Command and Conquer theme and has now entered into the sci-fi racing genre. Every other release seems to be a futuristic racing game, all of which incorporate the usual 3d flavors, as well as odd atmospheres and gameplay. First there was POD and Wipeout XL. Most of the recent racing games have been compared to these older games simply because they set the standard both in track style and 3d effects.
In steps yet another clone of the hybrid of POD and Wipeout. Powerslide takes sci-fi racing offroad while still keeping beautiful vistas, and at the same time keeping those frames rates silky smooth.
Powerslide is eye candy. No other sci-fi racing game that I know of can compare. Yes, even my all time favorite, Wipeout XL can't. The simple astonishing fact is that the bulk of Powerslide's many tracks are held outside. This has proved to be a very difficult task for most game developers. Quake II could not get it perfected and Unreal needed insane specs to get it running great. In 800x600 mode I had no slow downs, and no jerkiness either. I was amazed at the very first track: SandBlaster. The outdoor scene is desert, complete with rolling sand dunes. The impressive part is the beautifully crafted Mountains and rocks that surround the racing field; even the ground looked good. It was not just one color, it was a multitude of the sand motif with the occasional concrete, complete with oil stains and skid marks. Of course while racing on sand, mud, or gravel, all of the cars pick up the terrain and spit it up behind the wheels. In software mode you get what you would expect. Blocky graphics with poor frame rates. This is a 3d only game, don't try it otherwise.
It seems to be required of racing games to have the same sounds. The same shifting engine, the same metal meets metal screech, and the same metal compacting sound. Powerslide is no different. The engine sound is monotonous and so is the crunch of metal. The only redeeming factor for the game's sound is the bouncing of your car, the screeching tires, and of course the different sounds the tires make in accordance with the type of terrain.
The gameplay is where the game becomes difficult. All to often racing games are put out with little thought put into their difficulty. (Need for Speed for example, great game, just way too easy.) Powerslide's driving engine does exactly what the title says: it gives you some power sliding. The cars in this game are not normal cars. Why would they be, its the 21st century after a nuclear war! This leaves the developer a chance to experiment. Each car has several different pros and cons. Traction seemed to be the determining factor for me. A good car with traction will beat a fast car with no traction any day. As you drive around the eight different tracks, you'll soon notice the tendency towards sharp hairpin turns. The key to this game is sliding. You actually turn quickly and slide your way around corners and over hills. If you cannot control your car you do get some great crashes. I managed to keep sliding my car on its side for a good 5 seconds. This little physics engine will keep even the most experienced racing fan at bay at least for a while.
I can't imagine what could make this game better (except better engine sounds? -ed). The graphics are so nice to look at. The game is not at all easy, in fact it is quite hard. The sound could use some improvement however it still has some appeal to it. The game offers eight different tracks and six different cars where can you go wrong. If you beat the game try beating it with another car, or try beating your single lap record.
Support for eight different people. Yes you can race against seven of your friends in the three most popular flavors: IPX, TCP/IP and direct modem to modem.
Definitely a game in which all-different gamers can enjoy. Great graphics, good multiplayer and extraordinary gameplay give this sci-fi racer an edge over the others. By the way, if you have a k6-2, this game is optimized for 3dnow!, and it is a noticeable difference. Even if you're playing in software mode. This game is still no Wipeout XL, but it is close.