Car racing games are nothing new but when you're plonked down in the middle of a maze of city streets with some drug smugglers to round up in quick time it becomes a whole new challenge. You won't only need to develop some new driving skills but you'll need a keen tactical mind as well.
You are driving a Lotus Turbo Esprit with a top speed of 150 mph and can choose from four different city layouts in which the action can take place. Each city has one, two and three-lane roads. There are also one way sections of road but if you're feeling brave or lucky you can drive the wrong way up a street and take your chances.
The aim of the game is to track down and either capture or destroy an armoured drug supply car and four drug delivery cars. The supply car will appear on the city map first. You can study the map, which is quite large, and track down the car from the grid reference it appeared at. This car will then try to rendezvous with each of the four delivery cars that will appear as the game continues.
If left to themselves they will exchange their supplies of drugs, the four delivery cars will go into their hideouts and the armoured car will then head out of the city. The job is to stop them and different points are awarded for stopping the cars at different stages. The delivery cars are worth most when they they have collected their drugs but not yet made it to the hideout. The armoured supply car is best stopped when it has made its four drops and is trying to get out of the city.
The delivery and supply cars are the only ones apart from yourself that appear on the map. However, there are many other cars on the streets driven by innocent civilians. The bad guys are colour-coded in black and red so that you'll always know who you're dealing with.
Your car is equipped with a forward firing machine gun and this can be used to blow up the delivery cars. More profitable, and essential for the armoured car, is bumping - you smash into the other car until it surrenders.
The streets where the action takes place are lined with buildings that scroll rather jerkily past you. However the effect while driving is good and you have to do plenty of concentrating on the road. All the junctions are at 90 degrees so that wonderful skid turns can be performed but you can also crash easily into walls, lamp-posts and other traffic.
Drug smuggler hit cars may occasionally pursue you and try to put one of your four cars out of action but any engine or radiator damage can be repaired at a garage. Fuel can also be replenished at garages and running out will mean you'll have to abandon that car.
You will actually see your red car on the bottom of the driving display and below it is a dashboard display showing fuel, indicators, engine temperature, rpm, speed and steering wheel. Controlling it is fairly easy to get the hang of and once grasped driving can be lots of fun and very hectic. There's lots of action here that will test you to the limit.
Combat Lynx on four wheels, as you might say. Ambitious graphics, unusual gameplay and a real long-term challenge stack up against jerky movement and clumsy view-switching once again. The driving side's certainly a lot more interesting than the average racing game, but the sameness and overall lack of staying power left me rather disappointed.
P. Four large city layouts.
P. Novel graphics.
P. Good driving controls that are a lot of fun.
P. Tough game task with a side im for the evil amongst you.
N. Slightly jerky movement.
N. Perhaps not quite enough variety in the action.
A bit of a problem here - the bad guys driving black cars look almost identical to the innocent bystanders driving blue cars. Why do software houses do this?