Yee-double-hah! From the hit hot author of BMX Simulator comes Codemasters' chart challenger ATV Simulator. ATV is a quad racing (ie dune buggy) re-enaction of the quality we've come to expect from the budget champs.
From the first upbeat notes of Dave Whittaker's music you know this is going to be high rev, high speed action. In true Le Mans style you have to run and jump your buggy and roar into the first of your trails. This is the sand dunes, and relatively easy; you have to scale, leap and generally crash your way round lumps and hillocks within sixty seconds. But later screen trails are harder (and imaginatively daft - just how do you get the buggy off the seal's nose in the iceberg section?). And you have to finish in the time limit, or back to screen 1 you go.
There's an excellent split screen two up facility, which allows simultaneous game play, giving you real eyeball to eyeball keyboard conflict, (ATV is joystick compatible). Each obstacle surmounted gains you points, so a result is possible even if you don't clear all the screens. On screen info includes your time and fuel status, but most of the graphics are given over to the racing.
Control is not as easy as first appears - sheer speed and aggression will not bring the laurels of victory. Up/down control lets you wheelie (the 180° wheelie spins are a gas if not always useful!), the fire button jumps the ATV, (or the driver when he has to board the brute). Left/right controls speed. For steep slopes, wheelie slowly and jump simultaneously - it's a knack you'll need to master.
If you come off (the crashes are sensational, but not fatal), run back to the ATV, face the right way and re-mount to start your race with danger.
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO DRIVING GAMES
It's strange but true - normally courteous YS readers tend to turn into homicidal maniacs once they get behind the wheel of a Spectrum. We sent JONATHAN DAVIES, who still hasn't managed to get that wretched helmet off, to find out why.
It's an expensive business, driving. Not only do you have to hand out piles of dosh to actually get a car, but there are loads of 'hidden costs' thrown into the bargain' too. For a start, you've got to get it insured (in case you crash), which means serious sponds for your average Spectrum owner Then there's road tax, servicing, MOTs, petrol, all sorts of things. And, if you want to keep up with the latest fashions, you'll want to purchase a few 'extras' as well, ranging from simple '-TURBO-' stickers for the back window to alloys, buckets and twin cams. And they all mean spending lots and lots of money.
So wouldn't it be nice if you could get your Spectrum to sort of 'pretend' was a car, allowing you to zoom about to your heart's content for minimal outlay instead? Well, actually you can! Yes, all you need to do is buy a suitable driving game, load it up and you've got yourself a set of wheels.
It'll be almost exactly the same as driving a real car except that you can crash as much as you like without having to worry about your no-claims bonus. And you'll be able to choose from all the latest posh sports cars like Porsches, Ferraris and Lotuses and drive them as far and as fast as you like without having to splash out on a drop of petrol! (In fact, because driving games are so much cheaper and more practical than real cars, it is predicted that by the year 2012 the motorcar will have become obsolete, replaced by the driving game.) The only trouble with all this is that it's a bit hard to pick up birds with a 48K Spectrum.
JUST WHAT, EXACTLY, IS A DRIVING GAME?
Mmm, knew we'd have to get round to this sometime. Well, I've had a think and come up with the following spec...
- It's got to have either a car, a motorbike or a lorry in it.
- That means no bicycles, boats, jet-skis, tanks or anything like that.
- And no skateboards either. They're crap.
Seems simple enough. It means we're including Grand Prix-type games (where you just race against other cars) and shooting ones (where you zap them) but not similar-looking ones that don't have cars, bikes or lorries in (like boat ones). Okay? Phew. I never thought it would be quite so easy.
SO HOW ABOUT THINGS LIKE ARMY MOVES?
Oh cripes. Look, just shurrup. will you, whoever you are. No, Army Moves is out, I'm afraid. It's rubbish anyway.
So let's take a look at a few examples, eh? It's worth noting that, where driving games are concerned, the ratio of crap ones to good ones is a lot higher than with other types of game (apart from football games, of course). So you can't be too careful.
The YS Ratings System? You don't want that old thing. No sir, over here we have the brand-new top-of-the-range 1990 model. It's turbo-charged, fuel-injected, 16-valve, super-cooled and has a full X-pack (with droop snoot). And spots. You'll be doing yourself a favour.
It's no good having a driving game that seems to be simulating an FSO or something. You want real power, a feeling of being at one with the road and all that sort of thing. Control responses, speed etc are all taken into account here.
Assuming you remember to clean all the dead leaves and bird turds off the windscreen before you set out, what's the view like? A thinly-veiled graphics category, in other words, but jolly important all the same.
It may seem to have everything, but once you've set off, and you've been on the road for a while, do you relish every second that you're behind the wheel? Or do you want to keep stopping at the services? Or perhaps you'd rather just take the bus instead, eh?
A competitive edge is most important where driving's concerned, both in real life and on the Speccy. So do the other cars put up a decent fight, or do they just seem to be part of the scenery (if, indeed, there is any)?
DRIVING GAMES FOR THE BUDDING LADA-OWNER
As with all tried-and-tested formulae, driving games are big news in the world of the cheapie. Let's have a look at a few, and maybe try ad work in the odd drive-a-hard-bargain gag.
Hurrah! One of the best bargs ever. ATV Sim see you and a chum sitting astride a four-wheel bike thing, lurching over a set of courses. The trick is to drive flat out all the way, but pull wheelies and do jumps when necessary so you don't come a cropper at the obstacles. It's intensely competitive but gets frustratingly difficult on higher levels (when you start getting attacked by birds and things). A must.
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