US Gold Ltd
1988
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
£8.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

21
Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

Good lord. What a catastrophe! 4 4 Off Road Racing is USG's latest attempt at the 3D race game formula, and it really is a rather disastrous affair.

It's based on those frightfully dangerous races across the world when rally enthusiasts risk life and limb in huge sand-going vehicles. Unfortunately something has gone horribly awry during the coding and both graphics and playability have gone to the wall.

Once loaded, you're asked to select which landscape you want to drive through. There's a choice of four, covering the most diverse terrain - dry desert, icy wastes, boggy mudswamps and mountainous canyons. Once this choice has been made, you have to decide which vehicle is best suited to the course you're about to attempt. Although there are only four basic trucks on offer, each is rated on seven factors: weight, gas, mileage, endurance etc. Obviously, each truck has its advantages and disadvantages making it more or less suitable for the different landscapes.

From here, you have to buy all those extras like extra brake fluid and a spare battery from the auto mart shop. Each object has a certain amount of weight which will slow your performance etc, etc. You get the idea?

Okay, so 4x4 is more involved than Outrun, Wec Le Mans and the like, and it could be argued that it's more realistic than either of these two, but there's no getting away from the fact that this sort of game has to have convincing and exciting graphics. 4x4 just ain't all there.

Take a look at the picture yourself. It's hardly the most convincing reconstruction of a rally ever, is it? And things remain the same through all the courses. The track rises and falls and swerves around and branches; like Outrun. It's also a multi-load. Before you can drive a course you've got to load it from tape.

The sound is a complete farce. There are blips and whistles and rasps throughout, and a laughable version of the Last Post when you run into a cactus or another obstacle tougher than your truck.

So, who is 4x4 aimed at, then? Tricky to tell. It's neither fish nor fowl. It's not a strategy game and God knows it's hardly an arcade blast. It's certainly to be avoided unless you're very very sure you can't wait until something better comes along, like a bus.

Label: US Gold
Author: In-house
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Very disappointing 3-D rally sim. Avoid.

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