|a game by||GT Interactive, and XICAT Interactive|
The time: 2090.
The place: Various points around the globe.
The game: Ballistics.
Having taken Formula One racing to the edge, the need for a faster, more aggressive sport has been realized. Using the latest in technology and the breeding of pilots with faster reflexes, Ballistics is the only sport in this future utopian society. Pilots race tracks specially built for them in locations around the world at speeds of up to 2000 miles per hour
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
For some reason, there is a preconceived notion that all sports in the future will be 'extreme." Whether sport evolves to a more brutal (and eventually deadly) kind of game (Blast Chamber) or that the only good sport is one involving insane speeds ( ) or the crux of both, involving extreme speeds AND death (WipeOut). Are we becoming such a society that the risk of death and bloodshed will be our only forms of entertainment in the future? Not to rant, but isn't professional baseball over 100 years old? I certainly expect it to be around for a long, long time being that it's our national pastime. And given that the rules haven't changed that much I can't imagine baseball including landmines in the outfield and spike-riddled baseballs. So with that, I give you the review of Ballistics.
First things first, get the patch for Ballistics.
In Ballistics you play as a pilot of a 'speeder." These speeders are aerodynamic vehicles that are raced in a large tubular track that supports the magnetic field (MF). This MF allows the speeders to float mere feet off of the track surface while maintaining excessive speed. This idea isn't totally fabricated as the use of electromagnetic transportation powers the Japanese 'Bullet Train" along quite quickly.
Ballistics is a multi view game (I chose 3rd person) with a control scheme that you can customize to your liking. I found it easiest to use the arrow keys for acceleration and left/right strafing while using the 'B" and 'N" keys to barrel roll right and left. If you have a split keyboard you will notice that this setup allows for the spacebar to be used for the 'boost" function. Yes, I found it strange to play a game on my computer without using my mouse, but I got used to it quickly.
The primary mode in Ballistics is the league mode. In this mode, you start off as a rookie pilot in a fairly basic/crappy speeder. Racing the rookie circuit will afford you the opportunity to win more money so you can upgrade your current speeder and race though the circuit's various courses. As you race on the rookie courses, you must not only attempt to finish in a winning position but dodge obstacles and other racers who are trying to snag the icons that are found on the track. In order to gain even more money you can execute dangerous moves, which will ultimately break you free from the magnetic field allowing you to snag those really high icons floating impossibly out of reach. But beware'air resistance dramatically slows down your speeder when not connected to the MF. You should also know that breaking free from the MF could only be done when you move past the Rookie League.
The game also includes a single race mode, a multiplayer mode and a completely verbal (as in hands off) tutorial that doesn't really teach you anything.
This game is just teeming with problems. First, I found that the game would freeze up and/or shrink down to a window at inopportune times. I initially tried loading it onto a P-III 500 with a 32 MB graphics card, easily qualifying for the game's minimum requirements, but only found problems running it on my less powerful machine. I only experienced decent performance when I loaded it on my AMD 1.4, 64 MB graphics card. Away from the technical side, I found the game in general to be poorly executed. For example, if you happen to run into a wall while going 951 mph, you don't incinerate, you don't turn into a crimson mist, you don't even fly off of your speeder. Instead, you merely stop. That's it; you just stop dead in your tracks. Another thing, where's the sonic boom when the sound barrier is broken? The game just seemed to miss those important types of things that make a game fun.
You can go online and race others to determine which one is the best. I found a couple of racers online and did in fact challenge them to a duel. But poor Internet connections on the part of my opponents made for a disappointing race (granted it was 2:14 am on a Sunday night).
Well, here is the brightest spot in the game, the graphics are pumped up quite nicely and even require DirectX 8. The game takes advantage of newer graphics cards like the GeForce 3, allowing the frame rate to become a blur, and trust me, it will.
The bright neon lights and futuristic tracks are nothing short of awesome looking. I wish the traps and obstacles were a bit more varied but the game's designers can't be accused of making a less then flawless environment and while the programmers can certainly be described as fans of the movie 'Blade Runner," I felt the speeders needed a bit more of an aerodynamic look. Something meaner and sleeker looking would have done the trick.
The best part of the audio was the twisted carnival music that played when the advertisement for Grin (design team) software cued up. The rest of the game's audio needed to go away.
As with Xicat's other release Gothic the documentation was not done well. I expected to see the default keys printed somewhere in the manual, but it did not. The rest of the manual just seemed average.
If it seems like you may have played this game before, chances are, you have. The game is really like deja-vu with its borrowed ideas and completely unoriginal premise. Yes, the graphics are sharp, but the game isn't. My advice? Pass it over.