Author: Mark Haigh-Hutchinson
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
I feel a bit like Basil Fawlty trying not to mention the war to the German guests. In reviewing Elite's Overlander, it's impossible not to mention US Gold's coin-op conversion Roadblasters. Yet at the same time, one hesitates to do so.
Any old how, Overlander is a jolly good racing-and-blasting game which makes up in excitement what it might lack in graphic sophistication. The desert road scrolls nicely, and unlike the scenery in Roadblasters (oops, there I go again), it moves up and down rather than just wobbling from side to side.
You can choose to play either a hero Federation agent trying to get secret documents from point A to point B, or a nasty baddie smuggling counterfeit money, although it doesn't make much diff to the game.
Next step is to equip your car with fuel, weapons and accessories. You have a limited amount of money to spend; the aim of the game is simply to finish stages as quickly and violently as possible to earn cash bonuses. Weapons you can choose include bulletproofing, armourplating, missiles, flamethrowers, spiked wheels, turbochargers and smart bombs (pretty costly). You can define the key used to activate each special weapon.
Zoom! Off you go into the desert. Soon you'll be battered by enemy cars trying to force you off the road, fast-moving motorbikes, roadside gun emplacements, and mine-laying trucks. You can force your opponents off the road, blow them to bits, or dodge around them, and to warn you of their presence there's a twodirection indicator to the left of the control display.
Also shown on your control panel are indicators of the currently selected weapon, speed, RPM (which doesn't signify much), and fuel remaining.
Once you've hit top speed things get pretty interesting. Tyres squeal as you fling yourself around corners, explosions blossom as motorbikes smash themselves against your armoured bonnet mangled wreckage is strewn across the road and bullets and missiles fly as you race for the end of the stage. Altogether more fast-moving and enjoyable than R**d*****ers, but not as well-designed; the backgrounds are pretty monotonous, and the vehicles look rather boring.
Far be it from me to recommend one game rather than the other. Just give them both a try and see which one revs your engine.
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Another budget re-release, and this time one which is actually worth the dosh. When Overlander first appeared its great boast was that the background actually goes up and down as well as left-to-right; this isn't so amazing now, but it does add an extra element of interest to what is basically another cross-county race game, but with GUNS, oh yuss!
Extra oomph is added by the fact that Overlander takes place in a post-holocaust America where ruthless, excitement-loving adventurers (a bit like me - JD) carry cargoes, legal or illegal, across the radioactive wastelands between underground cities. You can earn more dosh for taking illegal cargoes, but all you money goes on buying bigger and more lethal add-ons for your car (a bit like me again - JD). You get to tool up before each journey, using a multiple-choice menu, and naturally you have to choose carefully between weapons, fuel and more powerful motors - it doesn't do to run out of juice in the radlands, but you wouldn't want to be without a flamethrower at the appropriate moment either.
The actual race sections are great, though each stage goes on a bit too long for my liking. The road dips and waves realistically, scrolling is smooth and your car twists and turns in response to your joystick movements. At the bottom of the screen, various displays show your fuel count, speed, weapons status, and proximity of enemies.
Your opponents include maniac motorcyclists, bomb-slinging trucks, armoured cars and roadside gun-emplacements; most of these you can take out with your standard gun, or missiles, but some demand smart bombs, wheelblades or the battering ram. Either way, you get a satisfying explosion and a big points bonus for doing the business.
If you're a fan of dangerous driving and anti-social behaviour (a bit like me - JD) you shouldn't miss out on Overlander - at a budget price, even if you already have something similar like Turbo Outrun or Buggy Boy. It's worth the petrol money.
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