Gel truckin'! None of your pansy Formula One racers or your nancy little go-karts in this game - 4X4 Off-Road Racing is for REAL MEN.
Here the poop. There are four courses to complete: Georgia Mud Flats, Michigan Winter Wreck-Off. Death Valley Trek and Baja Challenge. Snow, ice, mud and desert combine to provide an enormous challenge to your driving skill and tactical planning.
The opening routines in which you choose and equip your truck are quite nicely done, despite involving some tedious multi-stage tape-loading. You have a choice of four trucks, the Stormtrooper, Highlander, Tarantula and Kantana, all of which by complete coincidence have the same chassis and cab, varying only in their technical specs and fittings; you use the joystick to scroll through the choice of trucks, hit Fire to buy the one you want.
The next stage is the Custom Shop, where your "rig" (as we experts call it) goes up on the ramp, and you use your budget to buy various add-ons, bearing in mind the conditions of the next course you have to race, such as a winch, extra fuel tanks, or a cap (roof).
The final stop is the Auto Mart, where you dosh up for the more vital supplies such as fuel, oil. batteries and spare tyres. Then and only then are you ready to race.
Unfortunately the race graphics are a bit of a disappointment, if only because they're very monochrome. The animation, though, is pretty good: the road level rises and falls, other vehicles including the vicious Doombuggy dodge around the track, and your truck responds well to a tug on the old joystick.
At the bottom of the screen, readouts show your speed, revs, and the condition of various systems including oil, water and electricals. An icon-driven screen helps you if you have to make repairs; you can pull in at a checkpoint and have them done for free, or stop along the way if you feel you have the time. The purchases you made in the Auto Mart, including getting a flashlight or hiring a mechanic, may speed up your repairs and improve your chances of winning a race and progressing to the next round. It's even possible to get stuck in mud, in which case you don't have much chance unless you've invested in a winch!
It is possible to total your rig (sounds painful) up to three times before you're out of the race altogether, but your final aim is to win all four races and become Bull Goose Loony Head Honcho Trucker.
Apart from the slightly disappointing graphics of the race section. 4X4 Off-Road Racing is a realistic and exciting drive, and has all the thrills of the real thing without the mud, so check it out (unless it's only the mud you like).
Label: Kixx Price: £2.99 Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
All the thrills of off road racing, at a fair price!