Game Over Online ~ The Dukes of Hazzard - Racing for Home

GameOver Game Reviews - The Dukes of Hazzard - Racing for Home (c) SouthPeak Interactive, Reviewed by - Rorschach

Game & Publisher The Dukes of Hazzard - Racing for Home (c) SouthPeak Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 233, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 15%
Date Published Thursday, July 20th, 2000 at 11:39 AM

Divider Left By: Rorschach Divider Right

As one who used to be on the outside looking in, I realize that the life of a game reviewer looks pretty glamorous. I get to play all the newest games, I get to schmooze with some of the great game players and makers in the country, and oh the groupies - they all look like the lesbian love-children of Angelina Jolie and Lara Croft. But there are downsides. Great, bleak, cesspool-ridden downsides with festering pustules of maggot infested… well, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start with the review of The Dukes of Hazzard - Racing for Home. The festering pustules will become obvious all on their own. But first, a song (inexplicably sung to the theme from the Beverly Hillbillies):

Now listen to the story 'bout a family named Duke. Such a bunch of inbred redneck hicks they nearly made me puke. If it wasn't for cousin Daisy flashing us some cheek I can't imagine anyone would tune in every week. Ratings that is. Nielson style.

Oh, but I could go on. Step back into the 80's. William Shatner is overacting his way through TJ Hooker, his future of self-parodying ads but a distant vision. My sister wore a pair of Jordache jeans so tight she broke her tailbone sitting down (a pretty common 80's injury for those too young to remember). And the Dukes of Hazzard is at the top of the charts. I admit it - I watched it too. I was about 14 years old and Heather Locklear as Stacy Sheridan didn't go undercover as a prostitute nearly often enough on Hooker to satisfy my sinister urges. So there was the Dukes of Hazzard with Catherine Bach as cousin Daisy, wearing short shorts a friend of mine once referred to as "barely street legal", and with her came Bo, Luke, and the General Lee. Of the four of them, I understand the car got the most fan mail.

And here it is, like 20 years later, and someone at Ubi Soft/Southpeak decided it was time for a Dukes of Hazzard driving game. On the surface, it's not a bad idea. The sort of nostalgic fun gripping a vast swath of my generation, coupled with two fairly recent Dukes reunion movies, would seem to open the door for such a project. Drive the General Lee, evade Roscoe and Enos (and to a lesser extent Clitus and that guy who played one of the Darrens on Bewitched), thwart Boss Hogg (played elegantly by Sorrell Booke, who graduated from my alma mater) and rescue Daisy. But the truth, as they say, is in the pudding. I have no idea who they are, or what they mean when they say that, but suffice to say the game is just absolutely retched. I'm not even sure I have enough bad words in my vocabulary to cover it. I really deserve some kind of medal just for playing it. It is a roiling dung heap of rotting… OK. Maintain objectivity. It's the mark of a true professional.

What's wrong with the game? Even at the highest graphics resolution (1280 x 1024), the game looks bad. Easily on par with NFS2 - for all I know it uses the same engine. Scenery is blocky and pixilated; cars are polygonal and carelessly drawn. Graphical flaws abound with clipping and tearing. If you try and drive off the road into the woods, you hit a wall - clearly the trees are just painted on the walls of the course like Wile E. Coyote painting a roadway onto a boulder, and not even as believably done. Ubi Soft/Southpeak fared little better in the sound department. The Dixie horn of the General Lee is nearly perfect, but otherwise there is very little sound to even talk about. Driving down the road at nearly 100 miles an hour with Roscoe in pursuit, I heard only a small rumble of the General's engine and Roscoe's sirens. No wind noise, no birds, no running water near rivers, no cows, and only the occasional squeal of tires.

The physics engine is the worst I've ever seen with unpredictable rolling, skidding, and resultant collision velocity vectors. The driving damage model is pathetic, as cars only lose a little bit of speed and no maneuverability with increasing damage. They also graphically show no damage from collisions short of a little smoke, and if it weren't for an image of your car in the corner taking damage (from green to yellow to red), you would hardly know you were damaged at all. The enemy AI is atrocious. Roscoe and Enos couldn't drive in the series, but the game is ridiculous. They crash into each other and other vehicles and the scenery. Having them chase you is hardly a challenge. Other enemies are only marginally better. You drive other vehicles occasionally such as Daisy's jeep and Cooter's tow truck, and they do drive differently. The tow truck is slow and unresponsive, and the jeep is a little faster than the truck and slower than the General; more responsive than the truck and less responsive than the General. Wheeee.

The game consists of 26 absolutely linear missions. 75% of them are either get to this spot in a certain amount of time or get to that spot in a certain amount of time while evading Roscoe/Enos/Bad Guy. Luke leans out the window with his bow to let some dynamite fly in the last two missions only. Just as well, he looks ridiculous and polygonal doing it, and if you try and squish him against some object in the scenery he pops back in the window like magic, or doesn't bother and just overlaps with the scenery graphic. Both alternatives are laughably bad. There are some uninteresting power ups scattered along the courses (nitro, oil slick, repair, etc) that serve not a whit to relieve the boredom. In every single way, this game isn't 1/100th as fun as Driver.

Pluses? Well, there are a couple. The cutscenes are pretty amazing. To prepare for writing this review I sat down and watched a taped episode of the Dukes entitled "Roscoe's Diary" in which Roscoe loses his diary and, well, never mind. Plot was never the Dukes strong point. In summary, the general jumps over a truck and a ravine, and Daisy's short shorts are white - at least that's all I took away from the episode. The opening credit sequence to the TV show and the game are almost identical which indicates, to me at least, that someone at Ubi Soft/Southpeak has watched it a lot of times. I mean really watched it. Lots and lots of times. Really, really watched it. With the devotion of a mental patient studying belly button lint. The people look a little cadaverous perhaps, and Daisy has been, ahem, enhanced with Pamela Anderson Lee's leftover parts, but the cutscenes have such realistic body motion and mannerisms, that you can fool yourself into believing you are looking at some kind of oddly digitized footage from the series. Voice acting, some provided by surviving cast members from the series, is pretty well done also. They oddly didn't use the series theme song - maybe Waylan Jenning's price was too high.

Another plus? Well, like my dentist told me when he got a new, high-speed drill - "It hurts like a bitch, but at least it's over fast." The average mission takes about 3 minutes, followed by a few minutes of cutscene. Including watching the episode on tape (no commercials), I was done with the game and the review in less than 4 hours. Replayability - zero. Welcome to the discount rack, contents: Dukes.


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