What Cobra Command did for the flight simulator, Road Avenger does for the driving game, stripping down game play and beefing up graphics and sound to sensory-overload levels. You don't just play Road Avenger; you experience it. The only problem (as you'll learn in a few paragraphs) is that the experience is all too brief.
Road Avenger's story line makes you a ten-year veteran of the elite police force S.T.O.P. (Special Task Operations Police). You've just jailed a notorious group of carjackers related to another four-initial organization, S.C.U.M. (Secret Criminal Underground Movement). You're taking a ride up the coast with your fiancee when revenge-minded SCUM members run your car off a cliff. You survive the crash; your fiancee, however, is D-E-A-D. So, you do what anyone driven crazy by intense grief would do: You take the law into your own hands and prepare to kill every last member of SCUM with your souped-up automobile, the Road Avenger. Each of the game's ten stages is a full-motion animated sequence set in a different location--on the beach, in a canyon, in a sewer (!), to name a few. At critical moments in the action, the game prompts you with an audible tone and arrow (or icon) to steer the car left or right, activate the car's turbo feature or slam on the brakes. Work the controls fast enough and you'll make it to the next stage; mess up and you'll witness a full-motion animated crash sequence.
Actually, if you have decent reflexes, you probably won't witness many crash sequences at all: I beat the game on the normal difficulty setting in a mere two hours. To its credit, Road Avenger gets quite challenging in the last stage--you have to press the buttons a lot faster to avoid crashing--but you'll almost certainly have enough lives (and continues) to finish the game.
"Okay, Mr. I'm-too-sexy-for-this-game," you're saying to yourself, "why didn't you just play the game on the hard difficulty level?" I'll tell you why, Mr. Second-guessing-the-reviewer: Road Avenger is too hard in the hard mode, because you don't get on-screen arrows or icons, just the tones, and they're often drowned out by the CD soundtrack. Worst of all, you don't get an enhanced ending sequence for beating the hard level, just a higher score. As Homer Simpson would say: "Doh!"
While Road Avenger's game play is less than hot, the graphics and sound are on fire. The full-motion video is very well done (although more than a few scenes are blurry, due to the Sega CD's limited color palette) and the sound is incredible. You'll cackle with glee as your car screeches past screaming pedestrians and smashes into SCUM vehicles. This game literally begs you to crank your stereo volume up to full. Road Avenger is a gorgeous game that makes the most of the Sega CD's abilities, and it's one of the most intense gaming experiences I've had in a long while. I only wish that it wasn't so easy (or hard) to play through.
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TIME THE AVENGER!
Years in the future, the highways, the countries' arteries in terms of transportation, have now become a source of horror. Ruthless gangs, armed to the teeth, now control the roads; smashing innocent people and anything they can get their hands or tires on! One particularly nasty group of criminals, aptly called S.C.U.M. (Secret Criminal Underground Movement) is the biggest and strongest of the road hoodlums! The solution? A group called S.T.O.P. (Special Task Operations Patrol) has been formed to wipe out the S.C.U.M. organization and make the highways safe for ordinary citizens. But S.T.O.P. is greatly outnumbered, as there is more profit in plunder than defending innocents and upholding the law! However, it must be done, and S.T.O.P. is the only way to do it.
Road Avenger is packed with nine adventure-filled levels, which put you behind the wheel of a super-fast interceptor! You are armed only with driving skills and a gun to shoot away nasties! Among the many technical aspects of the game are 30 plus minutes of full-motion animation, 360-degree scrolling and a full CD soundtrack with digital stereo sound!
Keep the roads safe from the forces of evil with this new CD driving game! As a member of S.T.O.P. (Special Task Operations Patrol), sit behind the wheel of a turbo-charged interceptor to battle the evil legions of S.C.U.M. (Secret Criminal Underground Movement)! As the driver you are armed with driving skills and machine guns mounted in the front of the car. Watch for the arrows, too: otherwise it's crash and burn!
This game is a barrel of fun - the first time through. In the same vein as Cobra Command, the Wolfmen serve up a driver that dishes out spectacular full-motion, fullscreen graphics and a storyline that's non-stop intensity. The game is linear, however, and will be beat quickly by most everyone. Still a great showpiece.
Very much like Cobra Command and Time Gal, Road Avenger is a new way of playing games. Not necessarily better but new. In essence, this is a memory game. Get to a certain point and you have to make a decision and do something. Do it right and you go on; wrong and you die. Great background artwork! Try it!
Yes, the graphics are phenomenal, and the footage is much smoother than earlier attempts such as Thunderstorm FX. The music and sounds are also topnotch. The main problem that I have with this cart is the lack of any real control over the game. You merely watch and press a direction or button at an appointed time.
CD games are coming back with a vengeance! Road Avenger is yet another preview of what the Sega CD is capable of doing. While the control is horrible, the graphics are excellent - something the early titles have lacked. This is the type of game I'd like to see more of, with a greatly improved interface.