Coin-op conversions always face an uphill struggle when they're adapted to fit the constraints of home computing hardware. When the original Hard Drivin' was converted it had been waited upon with hopeful anticipation and hand wringing all round. 16-bit computers were still perceived as being able to do anything that the arcade machines could muster. Thus many thousands of purchasers were disappointed to find that they had a game that resembled the coin-op in name only.
The biggest criticism was the poor control. It was almost impossible to stop the car skewing all over the road as if it was being driven by Teddy Kennedy. Even perseverance and practice to the most extreme degree only ever resulted in inadequate performances.
Hard Drivin' 2 is supposed to put paid to the inevitable backlash of criticism and bitterness. Does it succeed? The answer is partly. The steering includes a new special auto-centring feature. The simulation algorithms are tweaked to make the car feel more like a car. This means that Hard Drivin' 2 is not as hard to drive as the original, it's merely difficult. Sighting cars through solid objects has also been corrected. So middling marks for realism there.
You just can't help but feel that Hard Drivin', no matter how good the conversion, was going to disappoint anyway. The real hook with the coin-op was that it had tactile feedback from the steering wheel that made it feel like a real car. The sound was excellent and you had a brake and accelerator pedal. All round, a true simulation and driving experience.
There is no doubt that Hard Drivin' 2 is streets ahead of the original conversion. Its saving grace is the inclusion of a serial link that enables you to play against an Amiga or PC-owning friend. It also has a track creating feature so you can design your own circuits. But the thrill of the coin-op was the visual, aural and tactile feedback. For that reason alone, the conversion doesn't burn the rubber.
- Improved control system.
- Serial link.
- Track Editor.
- Still does no justice to the coin-op.