Just when it looked as if the computer racing game was running out of steam (or should that be fuel?), Ariolasoft have seen fit to release a new innovation in the form of Electronic Arts' Racing Destruction Set. And no mere racing game is this either, oh no, RDS offers far more.
For a start, not only can you race around any of the multitude of different courses provided, in the vehicle of your choice, but you can actually design and build your own tracks and alter the specifications of the vehicles you race with!
As with all games of this genre, the object is to get round a determined number of laps of a course in as quick a time as possible and beat the opposition in the process. The opposition can be provided either by a computer opponent or a human one. If you do decide to race against the computer then there are three skill levels at which to try your luck. Should you find the computer too easy to beat then you can increase your own level of difficulty.
The race can take place over any number of laps between one and nine, with one of four different landscapes in the background - racing (lots of flags and things), motox (tyres, flags etc), abstract (lots of op-art type lines) and lunar (moon craters and the like). You can also change the gravity you wish to race under from one of the 9 main planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, etc) or some of their moons (lo, Callisto, Titan and others). Once you've settled on a course and car, it's time to actually race ...
There are two sets of rules that you can play under - racing or destruction. The latter differs from the former in that you don't only race around a track, you can play dirty, with oil, mines and crushers at your disposal. Either oil or mines can be added to your vehicle along with armour for protection and crushers.
If you are going to race around the twisting length of a torturous track, then you will obviously need transport in some shape or form. There are ten vehicles for you to choose from and you can modify them to suit your requirements (whatever they may be)! The variable factors are all dependent upon engine size and extras carried, although the figures given are for the basic vehicle.
The vehicle currently selected is shown in all its glory at the top of the screen with its specifications below, The name, weight, power of the engine and other such associated attributes are shown along with the type of tires (well it is American) worn and the vehicle's traction on all three road surfaces (with the selected rubber wear). You can fit street (good all round), slicks (best on pavement), spiked (excellent traction on ice but slow on other surfaces) or knobbly tires (good for dirt and not so bad on ice) to your vehicle, and suitable tires should be chosen depending upon the composition of the course eg: plenty of ice on the course means that spiked tires would be an advantage.
Crushers, gallons of oil or landmines can be added to a vehicle and thus the overall weight, should they be required for a destruction race. Additional armour (or armor as the Americanism has it) is available as a protection against the: destructive potential of the landmines.
A good acceleration isn't necessarily of the utmost importance, but a good speed most definitely is. Therefore one should be careful not to have too much weight for the size of the vehicle. Keep the engine size large and powerful but don't take on loads of accessories that will weigh, and slow you down. A good degree of traction is also of use.
Once a vehicle has been selected and/or modified it can be saved to some form of magnetic medium, be it disk or cassette, for future recall.
On the disk version of RDS there are 50 ready-made tracks to choose from, 19 of which are computer versions of real life counterparts (eg: Longbeach, Monaco, Silverstone and Hockenheim) and the other 31 are various nasty combinations of the track pieces available. If none of these tracks appeal to you, then you can always build your own ...
Selecting the track construction option presents you with a small 8x8 plan view of a circuit to build on and a parts box. This box contains numerous parts, such as straights, bends, curves, crossroads and junctions to build with. You simply select a part with the cursor and move it to where you want it to go on the course. The piece can then be physically altered and manipulated to your own specifications and can be raised or lowered to different heights, narrowed or widened. The road surface can also be changed, chosen from one of three - pavement, ice or dirt. Once you've finished fiddling, the piece can be stuck back on the track, and when you are finally content with your design it can be saved out to disk for posterity, the computer checking the track for flaws before allowing you to do so.
Horse Power: 1500-5000 cc Weight: 1600-2150 Top Speed: 130-200 Acceleration: 6-8 Shock Strength: 43 A fast, lightweight car with good all round features.
Horse Power: 2500-6600 cc Weight: 2700-3425 Top Speed: 90-150 Acceleration: 5-6 Shock Strength: 111 A slow, but powerful, vehicle with good traction.
Horse Power: 0 cc Weight: 1700 Top Speed: 40 Acceleration: 5 Shock Strength: 150 Very slow due to lack of a 'proper' engine but climbs/grips well and can cope with the worst possible tumbles.
Horse Power: 125-500 cc Weight: 190-238 Top Speed: 70-100 Acceleration: 6-7 Shock Strength: 122 Good acceleration but low speed. Performs best on a dirt track as its name suggests.
Horse Power: 5000-8200 cc Weight: 3200-3500 Top Speed: 110-170 Acceleration: 5-6 Shock Strength: 61 Moves well but can't take the ruff 'n' tumbles too well.
Horse Power: 1200-2200 cc Weight: 1600-1750 Top Speed: 60-115 Acceleration: 5-6 Shock Strength: 93 A rather useless car of light weight, low speed and poor performance.
Horse Power: 1800-8200 cc Weight: 2600-3175 Top Speed: 80-145 Acceleration: 5-6 Shock Strength: 106 Similar in performance to the Jeep, only more powerful.
Horse Power: 4100-7500 cc Weight: 3400-3760 Top Speed: 190-200 Acceleration: 5-6 Shock Strength: 61 Very fast but lacking in efficient traction and shock resistance.
Horse Power: 50-1000 cc Weight: 160-381 Top Speed: 100-180 Acceleration: 6-9 Shock Strength: 70 Excellent acceleration and speed but doesn't fare too well on low gravities due to its light weight.
Horse Power: 1500-3600 cc Weight: 1100-2600 Top Speed: 160-200 Acceleration: 7 Shock Strength: 35 Should be used for standard race tracks, as it isn't really built for cross country racing.
When Pistop II was released we really thought that it'd be the be-all and end-all of race games. Ariolasoft have now come up with an excellent new approach to the race game which will get the racing fanatic's blood pressure rising. RDS is similar to Pistop II in the respect that it is a split screen, two-player, head-to-head option, but from there on any similarity ends. The view is a totally new one - a sort of panoramic 3D view of the cars which fits in excellently with the program.
The cars themselves are very small and the tracks you can create aren't huge, but the variety of obstacles you can introduce on them can be quite fantastic with huge jumps, chicanes and slopes. Making tracks is simple and playing them makes the time spent constructing well worth it. This is a superlative race game and with the two-player head-to-head and track design, it makes it a program you just can't afford to pass.
A while ago I heard someone was planning a licensed version of Scalextric, but Ariolasoft seem to have done a similar thing with this, and have provided a game that you can play on a number of differing levels. Initially you can spend your race time learning how the different cars behave and how best to use the different characteristics that they possess. At this level the game is great fun even if only played against the computer. Later on you may want to get into the complex business of building your own race track.
You really are spoilt for choice in terms of the different effects that can be built in - short and deep drops, long gentle drops, ice patches, dirt tracks, different degrees of gravitational pull ... the list goes on and on. At this level the game moves on to be something much more than just a car race. Later still you can start to get nasty and turn on the demolition stuff; that sort of racing will call for different tactics as well as different equipment for your car.
Because this game offers so much variation in an area that is very popular anyway, it must be a winner. The game as a whole is of pretty high quality. Sometimes the graphics tend to be slightly obscure but, because they work so well the rest of the time, the small defects are more than compensated for. An excellent game that should endure.
This is a really smart racing game, even if it does take ages to set up. It's a bit like a computer Hot Wheels track where you can build up tracks and hurtle round them at silly speeds. Although the cars themselves are really small, this doesn't detract from the game at all and in fact makes it very effective when playing. The two-player option is a real pile of laughs, especially when you start land mining one another.
The gravity toggle is ace, and hurtling around a track suicidally with a stock car on Io gravity is hysterical - you just fly about the place, something horrendous. With the mega options and the track designer (which I enjoy using to its potential) you can have a brilliant racing session.
A never-ending stream of comprehensive options.
Excellent scrolling, backgrounds and vehicles.
Good title tune and some smart sound effects.
You really only need to play it once to get hooked...
...and with so many options there's plenty to keep the initial interest high.
Value For Money 94%
The going rate for your average game but this is certainly better than average.
Definitely one for the collection.