Options, options, and yet more options. Slap in your disk and you're immediately faced with more options than an incontinent dachshund in a forest. But this is no bad thing. Hard Drivin' (probably 4D Sports Driving's closest equivalent) made a novel arcade game, but proved to be fatally lacking in depth when pruned and condensed for its appearance on the Amiga. Mindscape are obviously aware of this, and have made dure they've beefed-up their version of essentially the same game by offering just about every option they could thing of.
There's (deep breath) a choice of eleven high-performance cars to wreck, the option to race against any one of six dare-devil opponents, an action replay feature that would put the BBC to shame (complete with a choice of camera angles, zoom and pan), a selection of tracks to explore and a course editor - allowing you to let your masochistic stream get the better of you.
What all this boils down to is three basic modes of play. Firstly, you can race against the clock with a view to getting your name at the top of each track's 'fastest lap' table. This involves a lot of crashing, a lot of working out the maximum speed that each obstacle can be taken at, and a lot of perseverance.
Alternatively, you can pit your driving prowess against the six computer opponents. 'Smokin' Joe Stalin, Chern Chassis (!) - it's probably an insult, but I'm not quite sure how - and Skid Vicious (to name but three) are all just itching to leave you with the bitter taste of burnt rubber in your mouth. The opponents' skills vary, so take them one at a time as your own abilities develop.
Lastly, you can choose to play around with the course editor. This is where you get to position your own obstacles to create either a nice, straightforward route for a sedate cruise, or a nightmare concrete jungle that could never be described as a major contribution to read safety. Jumps, corkscrews, tunnels, 360 loops (hey, why not? Mindscape never claimed to offer realism), banks and even various track surfaces - all can be dotted around the place to your heart's content.
More options. At the start of the game, before the protection routine asks for a password you can tailor the graphics to optimise either driving speed or background detail. This is useful, though, to be honest, after a while you'll find yourself opting for the high-speed experience every time.
Graphically, 4D Sports Driving is fairly impressive - it's smoother than Hard Drivin', and fast enough to keep you on your toes. But don't forget that essentially this is a driving simulator - not a seat-of-your-pants racing game - so the pace remains fairly sedate throughout. The 3D (god knows what the extra 'D' in the title means) remains sturdy, with only the occasional glitch to spoil the atmosphere.
I suppose the cars handle realistically and there's a lot to be explored. But at the end of the day it is only a Hard Drivin' clone, and it won't keep you enthralled for months (and the continual disk-swapping is a pain in the bum!). As a bit of fun though, 4D Sports Driving comes recommended - it's a definite improvement over previous Amiga incarnations of the 4D Sports series.
Hard Drivin' with knobs on. Features galore give a much-needed shot in the arm to a basic (even if graphically impressive) game. Great for fans of the genre (a horrible cliche - but true), but not for learner drivers.