|Title: Death Track
Rom Player: PC
Synopsis: I don’t like most racing games. Be the first to get your car over the finish line in one piece and you win! Whoopty-do. Back when video games still came in CGA, EGA or VGA, there wasn’t all that much racing for me to enjoy. Aside from the Formula One simulations, there was the Testdrive series. For that game, the object was to neatly reach the finish line while adhering to the rules of the road and not crashing into shit. For a bored gamer with a lust for simulated destruction, i.e. me, this translated into running over cats and chickens, speeding as fast as possible, outrunning the police, and hitting other cars at full force. Other, more reckless driving games followed. The next logical step was a racing game where the object was destruction… that’s when my eye caught Death Track. Or vice versa.
Death Track is set in the near future. That’s not to say that it has much storyline, but it explains the semi-sci-fi cars, weapons and characters. You take part in a race of eleven psychotic contestants who all drive motorized weaponry. If you make it through the race alive and are one of the first five or so to cross the finish line, you are awarded a cash prize. Get wasted by one of the other contestants, and you don’t get jack. Because that’s what this game is really about – blasting away the competition so the money’s all yours.
When you start the game, you get to pick from three cars. The Crusher – a 4x4 that I always consider the weakest car, probably because it’s the ugliest. The Pitbull – my baby. Built to last while retaining good weapons and speed. And the Hellcat – sleek and speedy, a bit inferior to the Pitbull in the weapons’ department. Keep in mind, this choice mainly determines what you start out with – after choosing a car, you’re given $10,000 (woohoo!) and access to the Parts and Weapons Shops.
In the parts shop, you get to upgrade the engine, armor, brakes, transmission and so on. If you want to keep up with your opponents and not be a smoking wreck before the second lap, this is the place to be. Of course it starts getting interesting with the weapons shop… where you can stock up on a plethora of weaponry to destroy your opponents. Aside from car-mounted goodies like bumper spikes and hub cap blades, there’s missiles, mines, laserguns, good old machineguns, and terminators – nasty autonomic bombs on wheels that gun around the track until they hit something.
Before going out onto the track, be sure to get acquainted with the homicidal maniacs you’ll be racing against. There’s the Polish punk, Wrecker. The pale-skinned slime that was born on the moon, Sly. The seductive, terminator-happy Melissa. The opponents’ cars often look alike, but you’ll want to learn to distinguish them from each other, because occasionally before you start a race you’ll be contacted by a sleaze that offers you a bounty if you take out a certain opponent. These bounties can be pretty high, so you need to find and kill the target before someone else does!
Starting the race, at first, is one big push & shove. Weapon use is initially disabled, so now more than ever you need to put your spikes to use. As soon as weapons become available, it’s time to bring out lasers and machineguns to rip apart all enemies in the vicinity. Beyond that, once everyone’s got a good distance, your long distance weapons come into play. Whenever you’re right behind an enemy, their mugshot appears in a display at the bottom of the screen. Your car is outfitted with sensors that warn you in case someone’s putting a missile down your crack, or if there’s a mine waiting for you on the road ahead. During the race you can stop at the pitstop to refuel or repair damaged equipment, but unless you dramatically raised the amount of laps in the settings, it’s unnecessary and a sure way to lose to the faster cars.
The game’s 3D graphics are still primitive, but the gameplay is hopelessly addictive. Unfortunately, unless you’ve got a somewhat older computer still standing around, the game will probably run way too fast to play. The music is annoying (turned off by pressing either M or S, I believe), but the sound effects are nice. Too bad that cars blowing up and projectiles striking target is completely silent. I suppose this game paved the way for stuff like Carmageddon, and I really hope to see a worthy successor to it one day… No racing game I’ve played after Death Track managed to copy the type of arsenal it offered.
Best Cheats: In the Weapons Shop, highlight the biggest missile type and scroll to left or right till the missiles are off the screen. Now hit “Buy”. You’ll receive cash! Repeat till loaded. And a few friendly tips: Keep your eye on Melissa and Wrecker. If you don’t become champion, they will. Don’t drive over wreckage, it tears up your car. If you get a missile alert, sucks as it may, stop your car to have it fly over you.
Game Play: 8
Overall Rating: 8
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