TNN Hardcore Heat
The first off-road racing game for the Dreamcast is TNN Hardcore Heat, a conversion of the Japanese game titled Buggy Heat. ASC Games snagged the publishing duties of the game, slapped the TNN Motorsports license on it, made a few improvements and now we have off-road racing. While this game had a lot going for it, they seemed to miss on one big element that dropped the game down at least two notches in my eyes (more on that later).
Hardcore Heat is packed with enough options to make racing fans foam at the mouth. There are six very different tracks, five modes of gameplay, eight very different types of vehicles, varying weather conditions and some vehicle customization. There is plenty of challenging racing to be had but unfortunately the challenges may not always be in the form of the other racers.
Every so often, I come across a game that I really want to like but there is just something about it that is holding it back. Hardcore Heat falls into this category. It has all of the pieces in place to be a game that would suck me in and keep me playing for days or even weeks. So when I ripped the shrink wrap off of this game, I was giddy with excitement. By the time I had completed the first lap of my first race, the excitement changed.
Before I talk about what I did not like about this game, let's talk about what I did like. First off, this game has a great cross section of vehicles to choose from. There are a total of eight different vehicles but they are all so different from each other that this is actually a great number. You have everything from a tiny rally-type car to a 600 plus HP monster. Each of the vehicles are controlled and raced quite differently. There will be a vehicle that fits the style of every racer out there. I personally found the dune buggy to be my favorite but I do suggest testing them all.
Another thing that they did a great job with is the tracks. They are all based in different locals across the globe (USA, Japan, Egypt, etc.) which allowed numerous variety in the terrain you would be racing. In Egypt, for example, you spent a great deal of time racing through sandy roads. In Russia, you race across snow covered, icy roads. There is a great mix of flat out speed racing, jumps, corners, hills and everything else that makes up good tracks. I will give the tracks a big thumbs up.
Another thing that was well done was the computer-controlled competition. In lots of racing games out there, it always seems like there is one particular racer that finishes in the lead so you know that you have to beat that guy to win. The way the Championship mode works in this game, you don't have to finish first on every race. Hell, I actually finished last on a race and still won the Championship. They just did an excellent job of spreading out the competition so you always have a chance. Some of the tracks lend themselves better to certain types of vehicles and this is one of the rare occasions where a game actually takes the different attributes of cars and puts them at an advantage or disadvantage depending on the layout of a track.
So now you are probably wondering what was wrong with the game. Up until this point, everything sounds great, right? Well the one place that Hardcore Heat fails to deliver is in the control of the vehicles. It is just not right. I would constantly find myself sliding or spinning like I was on a frozen lake all the time. It did not matter if I was going fast or slow, I would spin constantly. I actually found myself trying to adjust my style to this game and tried to convince myself that this game just reacted a little different than all of the other racing games out there. I finally came to the conclusion that the reason all of the other games out there handle differently is because that is how vehicles should handle. So there you have it in a nutshell. The only real complaint I have about this game is the handling but it is such a crucial part of a racing game that without good handling, the game is very limited fun.
This is a pretty cool looking game. I am so impressed with the Dreamcast and its power that I am finding it difficult to go back to any of the other console systems. Hardcore Heat is one of the best looking off-road racers I have ever seen. The weather effects look awesome (especially the lightning) and the rain and snow look spot on. The dust storms are a great addition. The vehicles all look great as well and the game includes a replay mode that gets the job done. All in all, this game has the graphics worthy of the Dreamcast name.
At the end of the day, I would rather sacrifice good graphics and cool vehicles for some good, solid gameplay. This game really does a great job of reminding me how important control is to a racing game. Unfortunately, it reminds me in a negative way. I will say that I did get pretty good trying to compensate for the controls but it never should have come to that. There are worse games out there but if you choose to buy this game, don't blame me when you are swearing at your TV.
Download TNN Hardcore Heat
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP