From developer ATD, the U.K.-based team best known for supporting the Jaguar with games like Cybermorph, comes RollCage, an extremely snazzy-looking racer with some even snazzier gameplay twists. For starters, you can flip your indestructible car and still continue on as if nothing happened, thanks to its oversized tires that let it ride upside down. Even better, you can race up and along sheer canyon walls and along the roofs of tunnels, as long as you maintain a sufficiently high speed.
And that's just the beginning. You can also use projectile power-ups--or even the ramming force of your own car--to topple the buildings that line the raceway. As these structures smash to the ground, they blast apart in an explosive shockwave that can push your car along and send opponents flying. You can also carry two power-ups at once, each one keyed to a Shoulder button. Hence, you can unleash two weapons at a time, or even kick on two turbos for a mega-screen-blurring boost of speed.
RollCage's courses are set in four environments, including a futuristic city, a hilly coastline and even Mars, where the lesser gravity makes racing particularly interesting. Of course, it also packs a two-player splitscreen mode, as well as a Battle Mode that opens once you clear each circuit.
RollCage has certainly held my attention longer than S.C.A.R.S. did. The similarities are there--racing combat, unique vehicles, pretty environments, etc. However, RollCage has a deeper slant toward racing. It's easier to hold the road and concentrate on the actual race. On top of that, the weapon, shield and turbo icons are far less prevalent (that's a good thing). It's safe to say this game is on a high" er level than S.C.A.R.S. or Team Losi RC Racer, but when compared to current PS racing kings--NFSIII, GranTurismo and Test Drive 5--it us doesn't hold up. The reason? The flip-over cars are interesting but in the end they don't help you win races. More often than not, the unforgiving wheel physics and big tires end up creating wild wrecks. Occasionally going high on a banked turn is amusing but not enough to warranl the odd controlling vehicles. But, if taken for what it is--70 percent racer, 30 percent combat--RollCage is kind of fun. The frame-rate is fast and the tracks and backgrounds are speedy as well as good-looking. Two-player is a little slow, but it's fun, although it'd be nice if Al cars also raced. Overall, the trick is getting accustomed to the behavior of the cars. Once that's done it gets very competitive and fairly engaging-As a unique combat racer RollCage i is decent, but I'd suggest renting first.
RollCage is such a blazing, topsy-turvy experience that it's sure to churn your guts. Heck., playing in first-person view can even induce spewing. Trouble is, the intense speed makes the game thrilling one second and frustrating the next. Once you lose control--which is easy on the later courses--you're screwed until you car get your bearings. Multiplayer is more fun since the bounce-all-over gameplay will confuse both players equally.
The whole "big wheels so you can whiz up the walls and across the ceiling" thing in RC is a nice idea, but it seems very much like a tacked-on afterthought, and one that isn't very useful as a gameplay tactic. Every time you crash, the cars have a bizarre tendency to pull In a certain direction so you end up facing the wrong way. Sure, RollCage is fast and it looks a bit like Wipeout, but it's a lot more infuriating than it should be.
RoltCage would have scored much higher had the control not been Flawed. This game is tons of fun, and the graphics are simply incredible, but one too many times I flipped around all screwy (facing the wrong way) when I barely nudged up against an obstacle. No first place for me. I blame it on the loose analog control, and cars that burn rubber wav too much for no good reason. RC does have decent multiplayer modes though.
Psygnosis gets back on the tracks with Rollcage, a wild, weapon-laden racer with stomach-churning stunts and high-octane thrills.
This Isn't a Toy
Rollcage is inspired by the modern breed of "unstoppable" remote control cars--the kind with huge tires and small bodies that flip, roll, fly, and pull of amazing stunts without ever actually crashing. There's only one small difference here: You're not playing with some toy--you're behind the wheel!
Better make sure you pack the Dramamine, because your stomach will do flips in sync with your vehicle. With a little practice, however, you'll be able to charge up walls, drive on the ceiling, pull a corkscrew-flip, and land on your wheels, all with a fast, nausea-inducing frame rate.
The action takes place on 11 fantasy tracks with interactive environments. If you fire rockets or crash into nearby buildings and boulders, they'll explode or crumble, littering the track with debris and creating obstacles for your opponents. Speed-up strips on the floors, walls, and ceilings will give you that extra boost, as will special power-ups.
The weapon system is delightfully simple: The LI and Rl buttons control your left and right weapon tubes, respectively. And when you run over a power-up, it's automatically armed. Goodies include missiles that take out only the race leader, time freezers, warp holes, and more. A good enemy A.I. will help you sharpen your skills for the two-player splitscreen showdowns.
Wipeout with Wheel
Some of Rollcages elements the speed-up pads, the weapons, and the insane pace--feel similar to Psygnosis's other racing hit, Wipeout, but that's definitely a good thing. Rollcages rollercoaster-ride gameplay is already addictive, while the visuals feature cool lighting effects and minimal draw-in. A funky techno soundtrack and strong sound effects are shaping up, too.
Even in its beta state, Rollcage looks and plays like a worthy 32-bit successor to Interplay's classic 16-bitter, Rock 'N' Roll Racing. If this game keeps its charm through the rest of its development cycle, Psygnosis could have a high-octane smash hit on its hands in March.
Have you ever played with those remote control cars that flip over? Have you ever wished you could drive one? Rollcage puts you in the driver’s seat of an indestructible, flippable car in a no-holds-barred race for the finish -- drive anywhere and everywhere, including the walls and roofs of tunnels. And while the cars are indestructible, the scenery isn’t. Smash through buildings and trees to leave rubble behind you to block your opponents. Or blast your opponents into the sky and rocket by as they tumble back to the ground and regain control. It’s a high-speed chase where the only rule is speed.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Rollcage is high-speed action at its best. Choose from one of six vehicles, then pick your race style (League, Arcade, or Time-Trial) and go. League mode is the heart of the single-player game. You race against five to seven other cars, collecting points over a series of races. Each League series includes tracks from all four worlds, and it will require lots of practice to finish all the league races with enough points to continue on to the next series. You can change cars between races, and since each car has different traction, speed, and acceleration characteristics, choosing the right car can be the key to winning.
The freedom to drive anywhere you want is expanded in Rollcage. While there are boundaries on the side of the track they are usually set a good distance from the track and are delimited by terrain (walls or fences) and force fields that light up when you hit them, making them much more believable than the sometimes arbitrary-seeming boundaries in other racing games. And Rollcage adds a new dimension -- the cars are flippable. If you turn over you can just keep going upside down, or if you find yourself stuck behind the leader in a tight tunnel you can climb the walls and zip by on the ceiling. The acrobatic moves of your car can be very dizzying.
Even with this freedom, speed isn’t everything -- strewn along each track are power-ups that will give you weapons and enhancements ranging from warp fields and guided missiles to protective shields and speed bursts. My favorite is the Leader Missile, which tracks along the racecourse until it passes the first driver, then does a quick reverse and blows the leader into the sky. Blasting your opponents isn’t the only use your weapons have. Throughout the four tracks are industrial complexes, skyscrapers and other scenery that you can destroy. Most can be toppled by driving right through the key support pieces, while others need a missile blast to come crumbling down. Either way, they leave rubble and destruction behind to delay and block your opponents.
This combination of high-speed racing and destruction derby meshes into a game that’s among the best I’ve played. Rollcage even offers multiplayer racing, either via an IPX or TCP/IP network, or on a single machine with a split-screen configuration. While this kind of split-screen multiplayer action is common on console platforms I found it less appealing on a PC system -- trying to cram in more than one player clustered around a single keyboard is difficult, and even the multi-game pad systems I’ve seen don’t solve this problem gracefully. However, the network support is Rollcage is top-notch -- racing against one or more "friends" is a must-try.
Visually, _ Rollcage_ is on the cutting edge. The lighting and effects for the weapons fire take full advantage of the latest crop of 3D accelerators. From the electrical bursts of the ice ray to the friction sparks of the cars scraping against walls and each other, the effects are spectacularly rendered. Clouds of smoke and debris often blur your vision, and the explosions of the buildings collapsing light up the entire landscape.
The environments are also beautiful -- they range from barren terrain that looks almost like it’s on a deserted moon to skyscraper-packed urban skylines. There are even varying weather effects like rain that change the driving experience. All the textures are smooth and detailed, providing a rich background that looks as good when you’re moving slowly as when you are racing by at top speed.
From the "crump" of collapsing buildings to the whine of the car's rocket engines, the sound in Rollcage is fantastic. The soundtrack provides a solid base to the action that stays in the background where it belongs. The weapons effects are great -- missiles whoosh by, lightning crackles, and warp fields roar as they suck you in. And if your sound card supports four-speaker output then you’re in for a real treat -- Rollcage takes advantage of the new breed of 3D audio, providing valuable cues to the positions of your opponents.
3D accelerator card, Pentium 166, 16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended), Windows 95 or Windows 98, 2X CD-ROM drive, DirectX compatible sound card
In my book, Rollcage is a winner. The combination of high-speed racing and destruction derby action, added to the unique vehicle and track design, make it one of the best racing game I’ve played. The detailed environments and extra touches in the explosions and sound effects add a depth that has been missing from many recent titles. Psygnosis has set the mark higher with a game that is completely addictive.
After taking the PlayStation pole position with Wipeout, Destruction Derby, and Formula 1, Psygnosis returns to the racetrack with Rollcage, a futuristic romp filled with chills, thrills, and plenty of nasty spills.
The cars in Rollcage bring new meaning to the word "extreme." Not only are they compact and wickedly fast (picture a futuristic Ferrari with monster-truck tires), but they're also built for major abuse and crazy stunts, like driving on the ceiling or pulling a corkscrew flip off a curved wall. Land the car upside down? No problem--as with those "unstoppable" remote control cars, you can just gun it and go. Each vehicle is armed to the teeth, too; if you can't beat your opponent, you can clobber them into a gnarled mess with rockets or just blow up nearby buildings and litter the track with some deadly debris.
While combat racers are nothing new, Rollcage earns special mention for the sheer inventiveness of its power-ups. One missile targets only the leader for elimination, while another special weapon sends a portable black hole ahead to suck one unlucky opponent to the back of the pack. Obstacles like boulders, wrecked buildings, and incoming meteors don't make things any easier.
Which Way Is Up?
Rollcage suffers from one main problem: confusion. Its thrilling to be able to zoom up a wall at blinding speeds, but once you wreck, its hard to get your bearings and drive forward instead of looping in place. You'll get good mileage out of an analog controller, however, which offers finer accuracy than the standard directional pad. The weapons triggers are a joy to use.
As for the games visuals, though the super-fast graphics avoid both slowdown and pop-up (no mean feat), they still have a bitmapped checkerboard look to them that can be distracting--even in two-player mode. Luckily, the sample-riddled dance soundtrack sounds zippier than most.
Roll cage = Road Rage
You could call Rollcage "Wipeout on Wheels," and it wouldn't be an insult The whiplash gameplay and intense combat feel familiar, but comfortably so. With so much style and substance, Rollcage ranks among the PlayStations best fantasy racers.
- Hit power-ups dead center to collect them-tagging the blue spheres that orbit the core won't do It.
- Use reverse when you get jammed; it's too easy to flail around using just the accelerator.
- On the second Gemini track, slide up to the roof to take advantage of the speed arrows. Drive straight off the roof for a perfect landing.
- Those blue arrows on the wall of the second Scorpio track aren't just omaments-they're speed boosters and worth using.
- To immediately unlock Hard and Mirror modes, use the password EAONCMAH.
- Gun the engine at the starting line for an acceleration burst
The latticed patterns on the graphics are par for the course for many PlayStation games, but they're still distracting here. What you won't fin is pop-up or slowdown--hallelujah!
Rollcage offers the usual techno fare, but with some funky sampling thrown in, it's more enjoyable than what you might expect. The sound effects don't dazzle, but they're up to standards.
The directional pad is a bit stiff, but steering smoothes out with the use of an analog stick, which offers the precision needed to navigate the tricky tracks.
Although it may not be everybody's idea of a wild ride. Rollcage won't disappoint those racing fans who are looking for speed, combat, and a healthy dose of vertigo all in one package.
Racing/Combat games can get pretty tired, so it's cool to see Psygnosis injecting some innovation into a genre that's usually stocked with rehashed look-alikes. Rollcage puts you behind the wheel of an indestructible vehicle with monster wheels, which means that no matter how you crash, flip, or roll, you'll always land right side up. The II circuit tracks give you plenty of opportunity to test that out as they're packed with wild jumps, shortcuts, tunnels with climbable walls, and much more.
Speedy two-player split-screen competition and unique weapons--time warps that slow down opponents, wormholes that teleport opponents to the back of the pack, missiles that target the race leader--keep you immersed in the action. The early version we saw already delivered a blazing frame rate and fun gameplay, which only adds to the potential of this fresh prospect.