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Game Over Online ~ Speed Demons

GameOver Game Reviews - Speed Demons (c) Microids, Reviewed by - Langdon X

Game & Publisher Speed Demons (c) Microids
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 41%
Date Published Tuesday, December 28th, 1999 at 09:01 PM

Divider Left By: Langdon X Divider Right

The dictionary definition of the word game is: an activity providing entertainment or amusement. After playing Speed Demons for what I thought was far too long, I couldn't understand how this particular piece of software fell under the category of even being a game. Of course I wasn't expecting much from this low budget title, and that is exactly what I got: not much. (Note: If you visit Microids' website, you might see this game listed as 'Mad Race'. Well, that's what happens when you don't update your website in six months)

So to start off, I'll fill you in on the worst interface ever created. So bad, in fact, that I would rather have configured my controller and game settings into a text file rather than have to work my way around this un-intuitive garbage. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to get the game started after playing with a few options. It seems they like to disable the PLAY button on me and not tell me just WHY it is that I cannot play the game. This scenario actually happened to me twice. So after figuring out the first time that some of the courses were disabled -- (which I understand, and is a fine feature) -- and the second time that I left the game setting on Network play as opposed to Mono play -- (how the hell was I supposed to know that when I'm over here selecting my track?) -- I finally got to driving the damned cars. Before delving into the god-awful gameplay, I will fill you in on some of the mindless features that this game has to offer. The game not only supports bland arcade play, an insipid challenge mode, and a vapid championship mode, there's also a training feature where you can attempt to learn the physics of the game. Two player modes include Split Screen or Network play supports IPX and TCP/IP play. After selecting your car you can construct it. Which simply means you can change the look of the engine, tires, and style of your car. I don't know how that's constructing anything, but all the same, that's what they called it. Something I find humorous, that the web site even boasts as being one of the key features, is that there are, and I quote, "4 different points of view: From behind the car, inside the car, without the car, and cinematic sequences.." What kind of feature is this? This should be a standard implementation into any racing game, and not a marketing point.

If you can figure out how to get the game started, you're presented with an overview of the track that you're about to race on. A colorful line traces the path that you'll be taking to complete the course. You hit a key to continue, and the camera zooms in, and you're taken to the race track. If you can bare listening to the sound of the engine, you may see some OK scenes while driving through the course. The graphics for each course aren't so bad, but the cars, obstacles, and what not are un-detailed, pixelated lumps of rendered matter. The control for the cars is incredibly poor. I can't categorize the control under arcade nor simulation style being that it is so awful. There are absolutely no physics involved while driving -- or crashing for that matter. You may just find yourself sitting at your computer waiting to drive again when you're flipping over about 300 times if you accidentally hit something at high speeds. Some interesting behavior that demonstrates just how intelligent the physics are: I was riding along one of the more boring square tracks, and decided to take a hard right turn and drive straight into the mountain. Little did I know, that these cars drive up mountains. So I get to the top and all of a sudden the game tells me "Course Out," and sticks me back down on the tracks. You think they could've prevented one from driving up a cliff rather than just using a brute force method to shove them back on the course. Another interesting *feature* involves driving with only 3 wheels. If your car hits something at a certain angle or you flip over enough times, you may lose your right or left front wheel (not just the tire, the whole wheel). Yet somehow the car still operates and drives along the tracks as if it had 4 wheels. One of the actual perks in Speed Demons is the White Line course where you can drive down ski slopes and smash into the thousands of skiers that are on the slopes. It's not as nice as smashing into people on Carmageddon 2, but it's not so bad hitting skiers and watching them fly in the air and bounce on the ground a few times.

Multiplayer exists, but lacks largely in the option department. You either play it split screened or over a network, as I mentioned before, but all you can do is race. Woop-dee-doo. No demolition derby kind of thing, no battle, no nothin'. Just race around a boring track with boring cars that have awful handling.

I think perhaps if the designers spent another month tweaking the gameplay and interface, we could've had another nice title to play over the holidays. However, another rushed released results in another poor game. I think the developers tried to focus too much on the destruction of the cars while driving rather than on non-fluff features like... STEERING. Even with gamepad, mouse, and steering wheel support, the control suffers painfully. And I apologize for the lack of screen shots, but the game just doesn't operate properly. When you alt+tab out of it, it either crashes, or you can't get back into it to continue playing.

On a final note: stay away.


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