French software houses are really starting to prove their worth with some excellent original software. UBIsoft, who had previously released Zombi, still hasn't made much impression but now has a distribution deal with Elite. This is another game where we've seen only the French version and don't know when it will hit the streets over here.
The game is set in the future, in the USA, where anarchy has descended on the roadways. (The French should talk!) Some areas are absolutely lethal, with any passing vehicle coming under heavy attack. You drive a large lorry trying to get a cargo through the waves of murderous traffic.
The lorry sits in the middle of the screen and the road scrolls right to left under it. You have a bird's-eye view of the action. You can move the lorry up and down the screen but not from side to side.
To combat the marauding motorists, your lorry is customized with some special features. For a start, it's got armour-plating all over, and even reinforced tyres, to protect it from attack. Naturally you'll want to fight back. There are three ways of doing it. On the top of the lorry is a turret containing a machine-gun and a limitless supply of bullets. The gun can be swivelled to any direction and is the best all-purpose weapon.
You're armed with a limited supply of mines and flamethrowers as well. The mines are dropped from the back of the lorry and take out anything behind you. The flamethrowers spurt from the side of the driver's cab and roast anything alongside you. You'll need all this weaponry to deal with lunatics who attack you.
The enemy comes in all shapes and sizes of vehicles, from all directions and with different weapons. At first motorbikes will cruise up behind you and fire machine-guns. Then bikes with sidecars try to come alongside and blast you.
Further along you'll start running into cars of different varieties. Some of these will shoot from behind, others from the side. They also carry flamethrowers and will try to barbecue you. There's even one nasty piece of work that appears from the right of the screen and tries to fry the front of the lorry. One bike drops tacks in your path; another lands men on the side of the lorry.
You can take out all vehicles with the machine-gun. but it will take a prolonged burst of fire and you'll have to pause to reload occasionally. When one does bite the dust, it explodes in a ball of flame and disappears off screen. You must be careful not to bump into the burning wreck and damage the lorry.
Damage to the lorry is indicated by coloured panels on an outline of it at the top of the screen. Yellow and green aren't too bad, but red means you're near to exploding. You've got only five lorries and you'll frequently see them going up in flames.
If you can destroy enough vehicles you progress to the next stage with reduced damage and renewed ammunition. You can also collect objects off the road, which will reduce the damage level. Naturally things get tougher. On the first stage the enemy appeared only in twos; they'll now start to appear in threes and later in even greater numbers.
The action is comparatively sedate but is difficult nonetheless. You've got to recognise and remember attack patterns so as to minimise damage to yourself and dispose of the enemy as quickly as possible. The graphics are superb with big, colourful sprites for all the vehicles and explosions.
Asphalt is another fantastic French "jeu". Good use of colour and original. This is a particular favourite: the pace may be a little sluggish, but the tension is always there. It gets harder the further you progress and more addictive. It's hard to stop rolling...
Green Screen View
Those red and blue and green and orange and purple and white and pink and yellow vehicles are all green and visible too.
First Day Target Score
P. Big, beautiful vehicles.
N. Good use of colour.
N. Unassuming effects.
Grab Factor 84%
P. Curiously addictive trying to stay alive.
N. Lots of variety in attackers and patterns.
Staying Power 77%
P. Gets harder with each new stage.
N. Action may be a bit sedate.
A nice variation on the arcade game Spy Hunter.