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from AEO Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 13
||| Club Drive ||| By: Eric Michard / | \ GEnie: E.MICHARD ----------------------------------------------------------------- In the year 2098, where do you go on vacation? Club Drive, of course - the most exciting theme park of the 21st century. Club Drive was opened just after driving was once again legalized. Driving had been illegal for safety reasons for more than 50 years, until Doctor Lawrence Phosphorus' breakthrough discovery. In his distributive processing study involving safety and smart materials, the doctor developed algorithms that could be mathematically proven to be safe. Thus, the driving ban was lifted for these indestructable vehicles, and Club Drive was born. Take Old West Exit and chase down your opponent in a fast-paced game of tag through the main streets of areal ghost town. Get off on Hairpin Drive and test your wheels in a skateboard park - for cars! Turn on 2010 Century Court and race through San Francisco. Then take HO Scale Lane and experience what it's like to be a toy car and race through your neighbor's house. It's your chance to do stuff with a car you've never dreamed of! =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// The Game =-=-=-=-=-=-= It's hard to compare Club Drive to any other game out there. It's a polygon-shaded 3D racing game, but that's where its similarities to other games in the genre, such as Virtua Racing, and Hard Drivin', end. The game is comprised of 4 gameplay environments. These are Velocity Park, San Francisco, The Old West, and Jerome's Pad. Within these 4 areas you can choose from several distinct games. These include Collect (or Powerball), Tag and Race. In the Collect game, for 1 or 2 players, you're against either the clock or another player, driving throughout a small 3D environment in any one of the 4 worlds. The object is to collect a set number of rainbow-colored "powerballs" as quickly as possible. They appear to be randomly placed one at a time. This game, as well as Tag, keeps you in a smaller play area. Tag pits you against a second player. You are given a set amount of time not to be "IT" for. If you're "IT" for that long, you lose. Tag is played in the smaller play areas. Finally, there is the "Race" game. This is probably the best game of the lot. You can drive through some pretty large 3D environments, racing against the clock or a second player. You can choose the number of laps (1-6). Each world has a starting and finishing point, and a lap consists of passing once over each line. The route between these points is wide open with no real barriers, so you can choose whatever route you like, in most cases. Game Options include separate Music and SFX volume settings, car color setting for each player, engine noise toggle, Fast setting (max speed over 100 mph), Slow setting (max speed 60 or so), and user selectable button settings. You can change "Radio stations" by hitting * or #. There are 6 tunes played throughout the game. Nothing to compare to Tempest 2000, mainly instrumental tunes with a lot of percussion. During actual gameplay, you have several different view settings. This is where the game really stands out. In the normal Race game, you have the obligatory "Inside of Car" view. You can also choose from "Camera on a stick" which appears to be a camera fastened securely 6-10 feet behind your car, always pointing towards the front of the car. This view often obstructs your view of what's coming at you. Then there is the "Chase Camera", which is probably my favorite. When sitting still, the camera shows a close-up of the top of your car. As you accelerate in either direction, the camera rotates to follow the car behind the actual motion. As you speed up, the car zooms ahead in view. The camera keeps up, but from some distance back. As you slow down, the camera catches up and zooms in closer. Sometimes things can get confusing when you're changing directions quickly or doing a quick 3-point turn, and the camera is switching back and forth from front view to back view. In this game, at least at the start, you do a lot of 3 point turns. The collect and tag games, being in smaller game areas, also allow a very nice "Drop Camera." This is a fixed camera in each room or area that shows a long shot following the car while it's within view. When the car leaves that camera's view, the shot quickly changes to the next camera where the car is in view. This allows for some very nice TV broadcast racing type shots. It's a lot like the end of race replay shown in Virtua Racing. At times, though, you are out of view behind a couch or piano, or going through a tunnel. It's as easy as hitting another keypad button to change your view when the current view isn't optimal. Speaking of replays, after you finish a race, when the Best Time screen is shown for that particular race, you are treated to a great instant replay of the last 1 or 2 laps, using the "Drop Cameras" which are not user-selectable in Race mode. This is especially effective in Jerome's Pad, as you can see what amounts to a human's eye-view of a little matchbox car zooming throughout the house, jumping ramps, dodging the cat and mouse running around the house. This really helps you to get a feel for the layout of the individual worlds, and allows you to see what all of those crazy crashes, donuts, sliding turns and flying jumps look like to a viewer outside of the car. Now, some description of the 4 separate worlds. //// Jerome's Pad This is probably the most fun of the 4 worlds. Jerome's pad is a polygon-shaded 1 level small house or apartment. It has a living room with couch, coffee table, fireplace, piano & bench, 2 bathrooms with flushing toilets, kitchen with table & chairs, fridge, counter, a spilled milk carton (for the cat, I guess), cheese wedge on floor. There is also an entry hall, and a dining room. Connected to the kitchen is a TV room with another fireplace and furniture, and a TV which usually shows the same view you see on your monitor. End tables and stoops have ramps (which look like HotWheels tracks) so you can drive up on the table or up on a step to the next room. In the kitchen, you usually will run into an odd-looking polygon mouse with a cat hot on its tail. Hitting either one will usually cause you to spin out of control, although you can get away with driving over the mouse's tail. The cat lets out a loud, good quality yowl when you hit it, and the mouse squeeks at you. The toilets flush when you hit them, and doors squeek. There are several routes through the house that you can choose from when racing between the 2 endpoints. The smaller area used in the Tag and Collect games must be the upstairs bedroom. It's just one room with a TV playing Pong, a bed, bookcase, cabinets, table with ramp, a bathroom with toilet, and tub & sink. In the bathroom there's a picture of a bunch of odd-looking guys which I assume are the programmers. //// San Francisco The Race segment of San Francisco is probably the most elaborate 3D city in a racing game yet. You start out at one end of the Golden Gate Bridge. No flat bridge sections here, like in Virtua Racing Deluxe. Past the bridge, you enter some nice hilly streets in the actal city. You have complete freedom of movement throughout the city streets. There appear to be both commercial and residential sections to drive through. Everything is modeled from shaded polygons, with houses, skyscrapers, hilly streets, sidewalks and trees. Watch out for the trolley slowly making its way throughout the maze of hilly city streets. Skirting the city, you follow the coast and signs pointing to the beach. This leads to a tunnel through the hills. Just past the tunnel, you encounter a very difficult twisting cliff road, with water far below you. One wrong move and you head careening off the cliffside. This cliff road goes for quite some time, then does a quick 90 degree right turn when you reach the coast. The road then follows a beach until you reach another tunnel. You can head down to the beach to spin some donuts in the sand, if you want to. Past the tunnel is more beach, a large grass field, and a long dock which contains the finish line. If you're playing more than one lap, you need to do a quick 180 and head back the way you came. The 2 player Race, Tag, and Collect games in the SF world all take place in a 2 level parking garage. In the background you see digitised shots of what I assume is the SF skyline, but you are unable to leave the garage. Not much to see here, but it's fun to race around a parking garage at over a hundred miles an hour. //// The Old West The Old West Race area starts out in an old west town, and heads through twisting canyons and old mine tunnels. The canyons have multiple levels you can drive through. Head up a ridge and there's another more difficult track 10-20 feet above the main track. This one is more of a maze and it's easy to get lost if you don't pay attention the the overhead map view below the main view. At the other end, there's another old west town and the finish line. The track, I assume, is supposed to be sand, and you seem to have less traction than on the SF roadway. The Tag and Collect games take place just within one of the town sections. //// Velocity Park The Velocity Park Race section resembles a large 3D track, much like the old ST game - "Stunt Race" I believe it was called. The track looks like a big roller-coaster track constructed of HotWheels tracks. This one most resembles the traditional, basically circular or oval racetrack, though it's all 3D rendered, with banked curves. There's a digitized city skyline in the background. The Tag and Collect area of Velocity Park bears no resemblance to the Race track. It looks like a Skateboard park for cars, with a big half-pipe on each side, and various ramps and tunnels in the middle. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// In Control =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Now, about the actual car controls. The car control takes some getting used to. The controller is set up with E and W on the D-Pad being standard left and right turns. NW and NE are "slow turns" and SW and SE are "quick turns." The buttons control Accelerate, Brake, and Reverse. Luckily, you don't appear to have any type of normal transmission, as I frequently hit full reverse when going full speed forward. It works like an automatic transmission, normally. Thank goodness for Doctor Phosphor's amazing discoveries. At the fast setting, the regular turn is often much too hard, causing you to spin out of control and end up pointing in the wrong direction. I haven't really played at slow setting, as it seems much too slow. It would probably be a good idea for newer players or those unfamiliar with racing games to use the slow setting until you get the hang of the controls and learn the basic layout of each area. Fast setting is really _fast_. The car does 0 to 100+ in 3-5 seconds. Doctor Whas'hisname sure knows his stuff. There is also a Pause, and the Option key "rewinds" the game as far back as you want to go, Unfortunately, it doesn't rewind the clock. The car seems to cling easily to VERY steep inclines. There are times when you find yourself climbing an almost 90 degree incline by accident. At one point, when I found myself sliding down the huge cliff in the SF race area, I hit full throttle reverse and found myself backing -up- the cliff at 60 mph or so. This is a very odd feeling, but it looks really cool in the replay. Most of the time, if you take a dive off the cliff, your car goes flying and flipping end over end, so this isn't usually an option. Two player split-screen has a definite slowdown, but not really enough to prevent you from playing. What is probably more problematic is the thin slice of view-angle you see in 2 player mode.... It's a lot harder to see things in the distance. The Tag game is a lot of fun, but my friends and I much prefer the 2 player races. Having no set path to follow, it's a lot easier to sneak up on the other guy and ram his car broadside. Or, find a shortcut and appear from nowhere far ahead of your opponent. The Tag and Collect games restrict you to a much too small of an area for my taste. There is no real demo mode on this cart, it just shows a coastline road scene with a billboard cycling through all of the best times. This brings up another small complaint about the game. Each Race area has it's own "Best Times" list saved on the cart. Unfortunately, it does not differentiate between the different number of laps. So if you get a really good time racing 1 lap in SF, it will be put ahead of the top times for 2 or more laps, on the same list. The Powerball game has only one list for all 4 areas. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// The Details =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Some may complain of the lack of texture-mapping, but I've found that this game really doesn't need it. There is enough detail and variety in the different environments as it is. With a large city section, fully furnished house complete with pets, a nicely modeled old west town with mountains, canyons and old mine tunnels, and a dangerous, vertigo-inducing twisting mountain cliff road, it certainly provides a lot of variety. The only complaint is a slight slowdown in the split-screen mode. In single-player mode it is FAST and FULL SCREEN. No real jerkiness like you're probably used to in polygon games. Those who have printed elsewhere that this game could be done just as well on a 16 bit system are sorely uninformed. You can choose from 6 different tunes on your "radio", but some of them were a little too bizarre for me. There is a nice ragtime piano tune, though. But some wierd funky tune with farting noises and scratching records? Change it! Quick! Sound effects are a lot better, with a lot of digitised sound efects, such as door creaks, cat meows, flushing toilets, and so on. The engine revving sounds pretty good, and it does help to judge your speed and status of the car. Add to this screeching tires, jarring collisions and assorted other sound effects. The car control takes some time to get the hang of, but once you master it, it's quite easy to do controlled power-slides and fast braking turns when racing by at over 100 mph. It helps that the car is indestructable. On the negative side, in certain views it's really easy to lose track of your car when you're flipping about after a jump or minor collision. When this occurs, the car moves so fast that even the normally quick frame-rate seems to skip forward too quickly, and you can't tell how far you've actually turned. For this reason, I prefer to use the various "outside of car" views. Over-steering is a big problem when going at high speeds. Often a slight nudge will cause you to spin out of control. It's easy to send the car flipping and spinning off course with a slight over-steer. The fact that this is all shown in 3D out of your default "internal" view makes the game somewhat frustrating to beginners. There are also some tight corners you get stuck in at times. I got stuck once between the railing and bridge, hanging half off a smaller bridge in the SF area. Had to restart to get free. This game is a lot of sheer -fun- to play, once you get over the learning curve with the controls. The large number of different games and 3D environments to race through provide enough variety. The first time going through each area, it's fun to discover what's in the next room, or around the next curve. Each area has several different routes to travel and explore through, so you can always go back and attempt a new route to shoot for a better time. 2 player split-screen provides some exciting 2 player competitive games, without the need of 2 TV's, Jaguars, Catboxes, and cartridges. There's also at least one secret area that I've found, so far. A nice little castle on a hill surrounded by a moat. Who knows how many more secret areas are hidden in the game? Fun gameplay and a large variety of options make this an excellent game. I may be biased as I really -love- 3D polygon games, but it's really a great game. I played an early version at the SCES, but the final rendition is a much more polished effort with a lot of surprises. If you like polygon simulation games or racing games, I'd definitely recommend this one. I find myself playing it over and over just to watch the cool drop-camera replay at the end of a race. The best thing about this game is the total freedom of movement. No pre-recorded texture-mapped "on rails" action here. Just good, fast polygon rendering and interesting 3D terrain and obstacles. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: Club Drive JagNet: No Design: Atari Corp. Players: One or Two Published by: Atari Corp. Available: Now (US) Price: $69US Here's the summary ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars maximum Graphics - **** The graphics, in my opinion, are very well done for a 3D polygon game. Audio - *** Nice sound effects, with really odd music, makes this a mixed bag. Control - *** Easy to get used to, but an analog controller would make it easier to avoid overcorrecting. Gameplay - ***** Lots to do, and lots of fun in both doing it and watching it over again Overall - **** A great polygon racing game. I'm glad I bought it. Pts Stars AEO Ratings """ """"" """"""""""" 10 ***** GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good. 9 ****+ Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent. 8 **** Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this. 7 ***+ Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers. 6 *** Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time. 5 **+ Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this. 4 ** Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic. 3 *+ Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun. 2 * Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this. 1 + Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you. 0 - Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.
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