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While still screens of Fatal Racing look very impressive (matching up to the best of arcade racers), it is near impossible to reproduce these impressive visuals at a decent frame rate. As expected, a PC with the minimum requirements doesn't even come close to running Fatal Racing in VGA mode. In fact, even with all textures and options turned off and with the screen display at its smallest size, Fatal Racing runs extremely choppy. However, VGA mode on a Pentium runs very nicely. It flows crisply and smoothly with all options turned on. Unfortunately, these graphics come off very dithered, almost as if they are a time warp back to PC racers of five years ago. SVGA mode runs very choppy, even on a top of the line Pentium. Unless there are many workers out there with access to super computers on their lunch break, or gamers everywhere all of a sudden get real anxious to turn textures and options off, SVGA mode is practically useless. Perhaps in about a year from now, when PC prices have lowered and new technology has been introduced, SVGA mode will be a viable option for Fatal Racing. To avoid faulting the rest of Fatal Racing for it's subpar SVGA mode, the rest of this review will concentrate on play mechanics such as they would work in VGA mode, where the game runs at a playable frame rate.
The basic plot outline of Fatal Racing allows for eight major car manufacturers to race against each other in a championship competition. Each company (which are fictional) supplies the game with one car and two different tracks. These tracks are perhaps the most impressive feature of the game as they take the courses of Hard Drivin' to the next level. Each track incorporates it's own nasty features, including loops, corkscrews, twister jumps (hit them at the right speed or end up with the roof of the car scraping on the ground!), crossovers, loopscrews, and much, much more. This variety of a nasty implication of physics really adds to the game, and sets it apart from other efforts. A personal favorite is to brake at the top of a loop, and play a little game of bomb squad on the cars about to go through the loop below.
Although music seems to have been added late into the development of Fatal Racing, the sound effects come off rather well. Though nothing special, they do add to the experience of Fatal Racing, especially when a car goes up in flames. However, if overly enthusiastic announcers have been a complaint of recent racers, the announcer in this game has to take the cake. Never was it thought to be possible that someone could be so cheery over the player's death. Also, the "yyyyeeeeehhhhhhhaaaaaa!!!!" he screams as the car goes through every loop can quickly attack the nerves of any gamer. As a package, the sound does its function, but doesn't come off with particularly high marks.
Play mechanics in Fatal Racing are fairly standard. Gas, brake, shift up, shift down, steer left, and steer right are all used in their most basic form. Beyond that, a variety of view-points can be selected during the game. Network and modem play are possibilities for those willing to put the time into setting games up, and a split screen two player version is made available. The game controls fine when the frame rate is high enough, however, with every drop in frame rate some control is lost. Once again, this particular aspect of Fatal Racing doesn't really stand out above any other racer on the market.
Other features worth noting in Fatal Racing include the ability to change the damage levels implemented to colliding cars (which begin to smoke and flame when banged up), change between six difficulty levels, turn engine damage on and off, replay and edit video clips of past races, and the ability to play Fatal Racing under Windows 95.
Written by: Andrew Phelan
Most popular sound cards supported.
Interplay Productions Inc.,
17922 Fitch Avenue,
Irvine, CA 92714.
Web site: Interplay
Email address: Interplay
Interplay Productions Ltd.,
Harleyford, Henley Road,
Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 2DX.
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