Personal Computer News10th November 1984
Published in Personal Computer News #086
Death Race 2000 on a micro - that's the excellent Battlecars. You know you've got a winner the instant you open the package - two keyboard overlays and a hefty instruction booklet to make your mouth water and your fingers twitch.
Set in the year 2081, with the Highway Code flung in the gutter, it's down to you to equip your battlecar and duel to the death with fellow gladiators. Numerous options mean you must take some time over the manual before getting started. The main menu gives you five choices. First up is Solo Practice (mastering these monster vehicles takes more than a few spins with BSM) in which you take a few leisurely turns round the track, alone or racing against the computer.
Or you can check out your lap speeds in timed trials. Then there's Autodrome for some solo combat against the computer, a simple two-player game and, best of all Slug City.
Each battlecar has six steering functions, turning through 45 or 90 degrees to the left or right and drifting - handy for corners. There are four fire controls, one for projectile devices like shells, guns, flames and lasers, the others for the 'passive' weapons systems housed in the left, right and rear pods, containing goodies like oil, spikes, mines and smokes.
Firing isn't as simple as it looks, due partly to a limited quantity of ammo, and partly because shots are accurate only to 15 degrees (unless you've a gunnery computer aboard which brings this down to 10 degrees). And of course, there are throttle and brakes - it takes a long time to get used to all this lot.
The display during an Autodrome duel comprises five main sections; at bottom left and right the two cars are shown from above, and damaged areas flash orange. To the side of these are fuel gauges, and just above is a speed indicator. Aerial views of each car take up most of the screen which changes colour to give a rough idea of speed. Turning too quickly damages the tyres which further reduces your safe cornering speed. At bottom centre the two cars are shown as moving white dots, so you can plan engagements ahead of an encounter. When you're hit, the damage display becomes a weapon display of what weaponry is still active, and the damage points to each car. You can stop a bout at any point, such as when your car stops moving and there's an orange blob in the centre of the car - you're dead.
There are eight cars set up, but you have money to invest in a really hot rod, so you can select chassis size, engine type, armament and armour, and even save car specifications to tape for use in later games. And there's some crazy kit - for instance, the auto-steer which increases your safe cornering speed by 10mph.
The Slug City, where you battle with an opponent in the streets, take time out for refuelling and repairs (if you can find the pit stops, that is). The graphics and action are tremendous.
It's about time someone came out with an original idea for a computer game. Go out and buy it today, there's so much in it.