Why anyone would want to relive the experience of driving out of London at 5pm on a Friday afternoon is beyond me, but that is more or less what Megarace is a simulation of. Your sole aim in life is to pass as many other cars as possible in as short a time as possible, preferably trashing the majority of the traffic you pass.
To be fair though, Megarace is made a bit more exotic by being set in the far future as a game show. The show is hosted by the most odious, smarmy git of a tv presenter youve ever come across. He treats you to what is probably the best bit of acting on cd-rom to date, in as much as everybody who watched it in the office was soon cringing with disgust and great loathing.
Megarace it seems, has become the most popular game show of the 21st Century. At great expense, a series of tracks has been constructed in various exotic settings, from an open track in space with artificial gravity to one built in a transparent tunnel at the bottom of a lagoon. The contestant is given a limited number of laps to pass or destroy a set number of enemy cars. If he does it, he can go on to the next, more demanding track, otherwise he must make room for the next contestant.
Slow, slow, quick quick, slow
The key to winning, and indeed losing, a race are the symbols on the surface of each track. Passing over these can have either beneficial or detrimental effects on your car. Some, for example, will give you extra energy to power up your weapons, while others will drain energy from you. Some may speed you up and some may send you into a skid. To complete a race you must spend the first lap racing cautiously and learning the location of the symbols before going hell for leather in an attempt to take out your opponents.
There are several cars to choose from, and each of them has different characteristics. Choosing the right car for each track is important because theres no point in having a well-armed, but slow car on a fast track where your lighter opponents will escape simply by accelerating away from you.
Rotten at the core
Megarace has the same kind of effect as biting into a shiny, red apple to find it is rotten at the core. Viewing the tremendous introductory sequence and the cut scenes in the television studio will cause any self-respecting games player to begin salivating. Then, upon starting the game proper, the amazing digitised backgrounds will certainly impress you. The trouble is, that within five minutes of beginning to play, you will have the distinct impression that youve seen it all before. The action gives no great impression of speed and, while its fun in a simple kind of way. Megarace doesnt really have much to recommend it beyond some great presentational sequences.
Anyone remember megarace? Well, I expect half of you are muttering "actually I've been trying my best to forget it" while the other half are probably saying "yeah, it was great, the graphics were nice and you didn't have to do anything in it". This is mainly down to the fact that the first game looked good but unfortunately all the cars drove themselves around the various tracks, while you simply sat there and nudged the things left or right occasionally, and fired big guns at everyone.
Anyway, whatever your opinion of the original, it's now time to let bygones be bygones, forgive and forget (as Dep lid Jeremy is fond of saying to German people) and look to the sequel with an open mind, because Mindscape have reliably informed us that the sequel has been greatly "improved", enormously "enhanced" and even "changed" beyond all recognition - this is one game that genuinely deserves to have a '2' stuck on the end of it. So what exactly have the Mindscape bods done to completely transform an average racing game into (allegedly) the most entertaining driving game in the history of pc-dom? Well er it looks nicer for a start...
They came, they saw, they rendered
James Morris, our man at Mindscape, came into our office and gave us our very own personal demo of Megarace 2. Suffice to say. the scenery graphics look absolutely gorgeous due to much rendering and messing about with pretty colours by the developers. The vehicles don't really look like cars anymore either: instead they look more like futuristic buggy things, and they zoom around the tracks at a lightning pace.
The big difference we noticed between Megarace 2 and its predecessor was the ability to actually drive the cars yourself, which is of course much more fun than watching the little buggers whizz around the place without you. Generally speaking. Megarace 2 shows improvements in every department: the tracks are more complex, giving players the opportunity to take alternate routes to get to the finish line quicker: all the vehicles have been rendered for extra realism: and the weapons are better (rather than just blasting away at everything, players will now need to strategically place mines and oil slicks to foil opponents, and use missiles at key points to gain advantage).
Boyle my arse
Fans of the original will be pleased to know that Lance Boyle, the presenter of the futuristic game show which Megarace is based around, is back for the sequel - and this time he's cornier and cheesier than ever. Lance will not only set the scene before each race, he will guide you through interactive prize sequences and - get this - he even pops up during installation to help you through the set-up. If the demo we played is anything to go by, Megarace is going to be an absolute blast when it hits the shops in June. We'll bring you a full review as soon as we can.
MegaRace takes place on a futuristic virtual racetrack and features 15 different tracks spread over five stunning worlds with state-of-the-art 3-D rendered graphics and digitized animation. Go head-to-head on a virtual racetrack where anything--absolutely anything--goes. All the while, your maniacal journey through the future will be watched by the world, courtesy of Virtual World Broadcast Television (VWBT). Each track is filled with ingenious hazards like ice patches, skid zones, and deceleration areas--all denoted by symbols on the roadway. Your goal is to eliminate the five most depraved road gangs ever produced by VWBT, each with his/her own distinctive personality. Speed past your competition, and proceed with caution!
So you think it's wild on L.A. freeways? Wait'll you experience the radical racing of MegaRace. The bizarre tracks for this futuristic driving game are set in impossible locations. How impossible? Inside a particle accelerator, around the rings of Saturn, and through a whale's body, for starters. Scattered among the courses are 3D obstacles, loop-the-loops, and steep drops. Using a behind-the-car view, you'll compete against five computer-controlled opponents or engage in two-player head-to-head competition.
For futuristic racing fun, strap on your seat belt and take MegaRace for a spin. You'll drive down some of the most harebrained tracks you've ever seen.
Ready, Set, Go!
In MegaRace, you're on Virtual World Broadcast Television, hosted by the ever-annoying Lance Boyle. As the next Enforcer chosen to race against tough-guy competitors, your mission is to thrill your millions of viewers and "race to win," which means you fire shots at opponents ahead of you. Fast and fun, the behind-the-car racing takes you through futuristic cities and even underwater.
The excellent graphics feature beautiful, detailed backgrounds and large, easy-to-follow cars. The varied backgrounds show off bright colors and vivid details that enhance the action.
The otherworldly sounds are as realistic as you could want. The high, steady whine of the motor forecasts the future of driving games, but the lack of dynamic background music somewhat diminishes even the game's best sound effects.
The only downfall of this cart is the control. You're traveling at top speeds across tracks filled with obstacles, but unfortunately it's very difficult to control your squirrelly vehicle. The wall and your car meet frequently on the sharp turns.
If you can overcome the difficult controls, MegaRace can generate MegaFun. Beginning gamers, however, and those with little patience will have a hard time with this disc. Once you're deep into the game, you'll agree that the fast racing and excellent graphics make it Mega-nificent.
- Don't let the enemy get behind you, or you're toast!
- Use your firepower sparingly. You need to save lots of ammo for the ends of the races.