The original Interstate 76 was something of a cult classic when it first appeared three years ago. Mixing up mission-based driving and automotive combat, it included the funkiest soundtrack ever heard in a game and 3D engine cut-scenes that were rich with 70s flare. It wasn't the most beautiful game in the world - in fact, it looked pretty shit if you didn't have a monster PC. But looking back, it was one of the most original PC games of its day.
You'd have thought then that a sequel, with updated graphics and more of the same gameplay, shouldn't be too hard to get right. Perhaps if Interstate 77 was that sequel, we might have cause to get excited. Unfortunately, as you may have already guessed, Interstate '82 is the sequel, and like the early part of the decade in which it is set, it's all a bit of a mess, it would be far too easy to deride the game for its electropop soundtrack, its badly-dressed characters or bad jokes. In fact, to do so would miss the point. But where 176 was actually cool and occasionally funny, l'82 is just forced and a little sad.
While the original game was set solely on the dusty empty roads of the American south, l'82s first mission chucks you into the urban sprawl of Las Vegas. Nothing wrong with that you may think, but you would expect more than four cars on the road, at least a few that may have better things to do than try and take you off it. Basically, most of the missions involve eliminating other drivers, with the odd race against time thrown in for good measure. If your car is close to packing up, you can roll out the door and run around on foot. This new feature sounds good but in actual fact adds next to nothing to the gameplay. Apparently, you can actually take out other drivers and nick their car, but we found it impossible to do so and exiting your vehicle invariably means you'll be run over within seconds. Although the AI is actually very good, with drivers using their weapons intelligently, the handling of the cars feels completely at odds with reality. Get your car stuff in a rut and you may find your car rolling uphill. Land on your roof and the car will automatically flip over, an intentional oversight it seems, thanks to self-stabilising gyros in the door handles.
We could go on depreciating the game's poor representation of scale, the sparse and repetitive textures and the lack of any water effects, but we won't. The game's inadequacies are legion, but surprisingly it is always playable and, for some reason, vaguely addictive. Although the way in which you can upgrade your car doesn't feel as well handled as in 176, the fact you can do so is enough to keep interest levels up. However, the simple fact is that Interstate '82 is not as good as its predecessor, a three-year-old game at a third of the price. Shocking, but true.
Download Interstate 82
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Come On! Eileen! Too! Rye! Ay! Yes, it's 1982 once again, ladies and gentlemen. Having turned back the clocks to the era of flares and dangerously bulbous afros for Interstate 76, Activision are now focusing their attention on the age of pastels, Miami Vice and Culture Club for the sequel, the logically-titled Interstate 82.
Ahh, yes, the early eighties. Mmmm. Don't worry if you weren't really old enough to remember them the first time around - for the purposes of this preview, we're going to pretend it's 1982 again. And remember, this is just a bit of fun. Okay. So where are we? Right. 1982. Good setting for a computer game, because it marks the year in which home computers really started to take off. All over the country, pasty-faced schoolboys spent Christmas playing Hungry Horace on their brand new 48K Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Tron was showing down the local cinema. Elsewhere in the cultural world, hip-hop had just been invented, but was yet to make much impression on the music charts, which were instead filled with utter rubbish. No, really: take a look at the accompanying boxout to see what we mean. On the telly, Knight Rider and The A Team were compulsive viewing (if you were young or an imbecile, that is). Channel Four had just started, fulfilling an important public service by broadcasting mucky French arthouse films in the middle of the night for the benefit of sweaty-palmed adolescents. Politically, it was a period of hawkish right-wing lunacy: while the superpowers engaged in a terrifying arms race, we were saddled with a goggle-eyed, pit-closing psychopath in 10 Downing Street, and an ugly little war in the Falklands.
Actually, all things considered, 1982 itself was a bit rubbish, really. Good job Interstate 82 looks like it isn't. Here's why.
Just like its predecessor, Interstate 82 is a tongue-in-cheek driving-and-combat game with an evocative period soundtrack and an exaggerated nod to the fashions of the day. This time around, however, you can get out of the car and run around on foot, in a familiar Quake-y style.
This is, of course, A Very Good Thing. For years we've been pining for a game that combines the thrills 'n' spills of high-octane car chases with the white-knuckle in-your-noseness of a first-person shooter. "Wouldn't it be good", we used to whine, "if there was a game where you could drive a car to the scene of an incident, just like in a racing game, and then get out and start shooting people?"
Well now they've gone and done exactly that. You can even get out and hop into someone else's car. It's not the first to mix driving and first-person elements - there was Red Line Racer before this, but that doesn't really count because it wasn't much cop. Interstate 82, though, we have very high hopes for.
That's The Look. That's The Look
Why? Well, the visuals are great. Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah - the visuals for new, upcoming games are always great. What else is there? It's all mission-based, for a start. Each of the 17 stages comprises a big overall task broken up into lots of itty-bitty little ones. One minute you're hunting for something in your vehicle, the next you're on foot in the middle of a shoot-out. Ten minutes later you're back in the car, trying to get the hell out of there before a big bomb goes off. There's always plenty going on, in other words - and since the accent is firmly on simple arcade cathartics, it shouldn't get overcomplicated.
Not enough? Well, how about complex 3D environments to drive around in? One criticism of Interstate 76 was the Spartan nature of the levels - too wide and flat for our tastebuds. Interstate 82 does the decent thing by including built-up areas to hammer through - like a bizarre alternate Las Vegas, replete with glaring neon and authentically hideous architecture. It's not just cities either: there are stages set in shopping malls and underground sewers, just to keep things spicy (and silly).
Chunky, thunky, borderline-ugly sports cars seemed to be in vogue during the eighties - this was the age of the DeLorean, y'know - and the game's selection of vehicles reflects this. Prepare to encounter lots of rigid rectangular headlights and boxy panelwork, with many of the cars receiving the added bonus of hood-mounted flamethrowers. They've got realistic handling, and receive realistic - and visible - damage. And there are helicopters, too. Coo.
The Look Of Love
lying it all together is a story that begins with Groove Champion -star of the original Interstate 76 -uncovering a political conspiracy, finding himself in extremely hot water, and disappearing in a sinister may-or-may-not-have-been-murdered type way. Enter his sister, a biker punkette named Skye Champion, who teams up with afro-licious sidekick Taurus and dunce-like hickboy Skeeter to find out what's happened. For the bulk of the action, you control Taurus, while the computer takes command of Skye. To this end, we're promised shit-hot AI routines to make sure both your compadres and the enemy behave in a believable, intelligent way.
Finally, there's the soundtrack. Thankfully, Activision seem to have ignored a few of the more notorious hits of 1982 (see that boxout again) in favour of a parade of new wave classics - including the likes of highbrow pop blokes Devo, which must be a first for a computer game.
So there you have it: Interstate 82, a good-looking, hard-driving, fastshooting Quafce-cum-Driver-cum-X-Wing 'em-up, coming soon to a screen near you. The past is catching up with us...
Activision's turning back the clock again for the sequel to Interstate 76--anti like all good time travelers, it's bringing a DeLorean! Interstate '82 once again puts gamers behind the wheel with the auto vigilante, Taurus, as he unravels a conspiracy involving presidential assassinations and Central American freedom fighters.
Under the hood. 182 sports a fantastic new 3D engine to power its 40 vehicles, and fancy 3D-accelerated graphic tricks make the rides look super-smooth. Players can take off on foot and change vehicles midmission, including jumping onto motorcycles and into helicopters. Besides the De-Lorean. look for Italian imports, classic hot rods, '50s cruisers, a Knight Rider-style black Firebird, and even a few golf carts equipped with 50-caliber guns! Throw in a simplified weapons interface, particle effects, better physics, a paint-job editor, and an '80s post-punk/new wave soundtrack and you have the potential for some very hot wheels indeed.
Six years have passed since the events that occurred in Interstate 76. Styles have changed, music has changed, auto vigilantism has changed. Even Taurus is changed -- he’s lost the ‘fro and now looks like Tubbs from Miami Vice and is retired from the Auto Vigilante Guild. Taurus’ old buddy and partner, Groove Champion, hasn’t changed all that much though and now he’s missing. Groove’s younger punk-rocker sister, Skye, needs Taurus’ help to find him. Reluctant to start battling again but wanting to help his friend, Taurus, Skye, and their mechanic Skeeter are off on an adventure to find and help Groove -- if it’s not too late.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Interstate 82 plays much the same as the original Interstate 76. There are some general changes and the heads-up display is less complicated than I-76, making it easier overall to see what’s going on. There are several modes of play such as Training, Instant Action, Multiplayer, and The Trip. Training is self-explanatory and there are two missions to get you familiar with the handling of your vehicle, reading the map and the heads-up display, and using your weapons. Instant Action and Multiplayer are more or less the same game (only one is vs. the Computer while the other is vs. real people). Jump into one of the many available maps with your customized chariot of death and show everyone else who's king of the road. The Trip is the story version of the game and focuses on you playing Taurus in various missions to find out what happened to Groove and foil the dastardly plot that got him in trouble in the first place. You will play missions that focus on not only destroying your enemies, but also outsmarting them by blocking roads or escaping. The missions take place in a variety of locations including Las Vegas, an old abandoned mine shaft, the mall, and even the government’s super secret alien test site -- Area 49. There is a difficulty setting for easy, medium, and hard. I played The Trip on medium and I felt it was a good challenge that left me feeling good about myself when I finished a mission.
Some of the vehicles and weapons from Interstate 76 are back for seconds and a plethora of new ones are along for the ride as well. As before, they are mostly rip-offs of real cars of the era with names very similar to their inspiration. Amongst these are the ’82 Daisan 420x, ’82 Potomac Pan Am, the ’82 Fiarello 803GHBs (you know, the one made famous by that hit TV series set in Hawaii, Magram Private Dicki, and also Taurus’ ride of choice), the ’82 DeLandau complete with stainless steel body, and of course the ever popular ’81 Phaedra Estate Wagon. Overall, there are 30 cars to choose from and customize. You also have the ability to give it a custom paint job if you so desire. The standard weapons of old (machine guns, oil slicks, etc) are back along with some powerful new energy weapons such as lasers and electromagnetic pulses as well as shielding to counteract these new menaces.
Just like I-76 you can upgrade your car and customize it in any way possible, as long as you can afford it. You gain money from the salvage of your victims. A nice new feature allows you to actually exit your car to commandeer other vehicles, throw switches, or get away from your car before it explodes. The disadvantage to this is that you’re likely to get killed very quickly as you’re only armed with your handgun. Hint: when doing this, find cover -- quickly. The controls in the game are fairly responsive. There are, of course, times when they aren’t -- such as when you’re driving through the snow or are off-roading. The physics of the different cars feels fairly realistic although it appears that all the other vehicles can more or less accelerate and achieve the same top speed as you can -- at least in The Trip, anyway. This is especially true when you go up against a MoleMaster (large heavy drilling tractor that can remarkably catch up to and repeatedly ram your sports car). The throttling and braking left a little to be desired, however, I noticed that when I pressed one or the other, the car would seem to be set on cruise control at that speed rather than coasting to a stop when the gas was released. This can make it a little difficult at times to control the car since you will probably expect that when you let off the gas the car would slow. I played this game with both a Sidewinder 3D Pro joystick and also with a steering wheel and found the game played MUCH better (and more realistically, for obvious reasons) with the steering wheel. The game has several pre-defined schemes for various controllers or you can define your own scheme and save it.
The general interface is slightly confusing at first only because there is a lot of "background" art on the screens that look as if they could be options. Click on everything until you find what’s what and you’ll no longer be confused. There is also a map and level editor available at Activision’s website.
The computer I reviewed this game on wasn’t powerful enough to see what this game is really capable of graphics-wise. I have seen this game on a system with a higher end graphics card and the graphics look very nice. On my Voodoo 1 card, however, they are quite average and don’t look nearly as detailed as the pictures on the box. However, for playing on a system that is very close to the minimum requirements, the game’s video performed quite nicely.
Oh yeah! The soundtrack in the game is packed with all sorts of pseudo-80’s goodness including three previously unreleased tracks from Devo. If you like early 80’s music, you’ll likely want to crank up the volume. Even if you don’t care for this style of music, you’ll probably want to crank up the volume anyway as it’s pretty low. I found that even with the in-game volume settings for the speech turned all the way up, I still needed to crank my speakers to hear the speech. Overall, the sound is done well and each character has his or her own very distinct voice. And what Interstate game would be complete without Taurus reciting poetry while behind the wheel?
3D Hardware accelerator, P233 or higher with 32M RAM or P200 with 64M RAM, 100% Windows 95/98 (English version) compatible computer, 400M HD space, 4X CD-ROM drive with Redbook support (for CD Audio), DirectX 7 compatible sound and video. Multiplayer supports TCP/IP over a LAN or the Internet. Joystick optional.
Reviewed On: Pentium 233MMX, Orchid Righteous 3D (with 3Dfx Voodoo 1 Chipset), Diamond Stealth 3D 2000, 64MB SDRAM, CompUSA Championship Racing Wheel w/ Gearshift, and a Sidewinder 3D Pro Joystick.
Sixty-four pages of information you’ll likely want to read if you’ve never played Interstate 76. Even if you have played I-76, you’ll probably want to check out the new weapons, defenses, and poetry. The writing itself is somewhat entertaining also.
Okay, so I’ve cheered and jeered this game a bit. The final verdict, however, is that this game is insanely addictive and has a great storyline in The Trip and replayability in Instant Action and Multiplayer modes. I think if I had played (had the ability to play?) on a better system, I would’ve enjoyed this game even more than I already did. If you were a fan of Interstate 76, you need this game. If you are looking for a good solid action driving game, Interstate 82 may be just what you are looking for, which is why I give this game a score of 84.