|a game by||Synetic GmbH|
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Encouragingly, 21st Century have recently started branching out and producing games other than their usual, standard pinball simulation fare. First we had Synnergist, an adventure game (which was, er, a bit on the ungood side) - and now they're bringing us Axcelerator (which is, er, a bit on the ungood side).
Axcdcrator is a mix of high-octane, high-tech motor racing, and good old-fashioned physical unpleasantness, though here it's against other cars and not hapless pedestrians - which sort of marks it down as Carmageddon Lite before it's even started.
Following an absurdly long intro (so long, in fact, it could have been directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, although Mad Max-style car-crunching action isn't quite his forte), you're ushered into a grungy bar which doubles as the main menu. From here you can drive your way through a time trial, a head-to-head duel, or a full-on grand prix replete with extra death and crashing. You can also upgrade your car, buy weaponry, or stare at the immense, wobbling cleavage (it really cloes wobble) of the woman behind the bar. If you're smart, though, you'll choose 'exit' and spare yourself the depressing spectacle that follows.
You see, the problem is that Axcelerator blows. Compare it with Screamer or even Gremlin's Fatal Racing and you can't help feeling a little short-changed. The graphics are okay (with a 3D accelerator they're superb in places), but that's about it. The main fault lies in the handling - it's truly atrocious. At no point was I even remotely convinced that I was actually controlling a car. It's a pity, because there's evidence that the developers have paid lots of attention to all the other aspects of the game (except the unforgivably poor sound effects). In its current state, even the addition of full-on loop-the-loops in some of the tracks can't salvage things. Come on guys, you can do better than this.