Post apocalyptic (that means Mad Max) fun on rough-tough roads.
Producer: Elite Systems
Out of Pocket: £7.99 cass, £12.99 disk
Author: Mark Haigh-Hutchinson, Gary Tonge, Peter Tattersall, Mark Cooksey, Simon Cook, Richard Underhill, Darren Pegg
Having gone cute temporarily with Hopping Mad, Elite have returned to the biff-bang-wallop format with this Mad Max-ish game set in a world far different from our own. This futuristic post-apocalyptic type game seems to be very popular with a lot of software companies at the moment. Not that I'm complaining - I like this type of game, and Overlander is a good example of the genre. And if nothing else - what about that programmer list!?
We all know that the Earth's ozone layer is being destroyed by the gases used in underarm aerosol sprays (roll it on guys...). By the year 2025 there isn't any ozone left and the Earth has been turned into one gigantic desert. Most of the population have been forced to seek shelter deep underground, although there are known to be several vicious gangs still roaming the planet's surface. You take the part of an Overlander, one of a breed of people who live for the customised cars they have painstakingly restored and rebuilt for speed and firepower.
Every erg of power is vital; the Overlanders are the only people who dare to run the gauntlet of the surface dwellers to deliver various items to other underground cities - for a price, of course.
At the start of each mission you're offered two choices of cargo: one from the Federation, and the other from the Crimelords. One will usually offer a larger reward than the other, but the higher the price the more likely the cargo is to be valuable, dangerous or highly illegal. Now that sort of thing worries a mercenary like you, does it?
Well it should, because the higher the price offered, the more determined the opposition will be to grab the goods from you. Half of the money is paid before delivery, helping equip your car with fuel and an arsenal of lethal weapons, including missiles, flamethrowers, battering rams and wheel blades.
Having bought your personal selection, it's out into the hellish wastelands to face the surface dwellers. These roam around in several groups. The Crawlers don't own vehicles, but they do pile junk in the road hoping you'll go a-over-t when you crash into it. And they arrange themselves at various points en route to take pot shots at you. Roadhogs do possess vehicles; large armour-plated limousines easily able to ram you off the road. Kamikazees ride around on booby-trapped motorbikes suicidally living up to their name.
It gets worse. The Offroaders drive around in large pick-up trucks with an armed thug in the back. These guys tote a range of weapons from petrol bombs to the occasional bazooka. But the goods must be delivered, so let's hope that you survive long enough to collect the other half of your fee at the journey's end.
There's tons of challenge as the bad guys try to deal out some terminal road-rash to the brave Overlander: only split-second timing can prevent you from visiting that great car salesroom in the sky. Choose your special weapons with care, because the surface dwellers are bound to cause you some heavy hassle. Overlander is just the sort of mindlessly violent game that deserves to do really well!
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston.
Graphics: large, well-defined vehicles drive purposefully along monochromatic roads
Sound: growling engine and screeching tyre effects, not a bad 128K tune
Options: definable keys
Overlander lets you tear up the highways, mangle maniac motorbikes and get down to burning some serious rubber, The scrolling and sound effects (including ear-piercing tyre-screeching) create an exhilarating sense of uncontrollable speed. It's sometimes a bit hard to see what's ahead, especially going downhill, but steering the car isn't too tricky, so that doesn't matter too much. What makes it a very good - rather than a really excellent - game is its repetitiveness. Flamethrowers, bullets and missiles all seem to have been cloned from the same set of prototype pixels and the surface dwellers look like a race of identical twins. The only thing that distinguishes one mission from the next is the shading of the backdrop. Good fun, but the action won't singe your eyebrows off.
Roadblasters, The Fury and the soon-to-be-released Fire And Forget from Titus, not to mention Hewson's Eliminator - this type of game is definitely 'in'. Anyway, Overlander is marginally the best 'road-blasting' game I've seen so far. The added interest of buying your weapons before your journey down the highway to hell involves a certain amount of strategy. Soundwise, there's unfortunately nothing special although there are atmospheric engine noises on the 128K to add to the realism, but Overlander's undulating road and varied enemies make it so exhilarating and challenging. Highly recommended to fans of the genre.
It is 2025, and the whole planet resembles Death Valley: the ground is scorched, and everywhere is bone dry. What's the cause? The Ozone Layer of course. You were all warned not to keep spraying C.F.C.s all over yourself but took no notice. Now the people of Earth are forced to live in vast underground cities: the only communication between them is via the Overlanders - brave people who drive their customised cars down the roasting freeways.
I remember reviewing this when it first came out around the same time as lots of other car games in a similar style, like Road Blasters for example. The simulation of the car's movement in Ovelander is pretty good. The ground goes up and down smoothly, and well placed corners keep you on your toes. The actual car sprite also tilts up and down depending on the gradient of the hill coming up.
The presentation is really slick. Detailed graphics make up the wastelands, with such delights as overturned, burnt out cars and dead trees littering the roads. Sound isn't bad either with good special FX and an average tune on the tide screen.
Overlander is a fun car game to keep all speed freaks busy for some time. If you missed it first time around, take a peek now.
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