4x4 Off-Road Racing
Copyright/Publisher: Epyx, Programmed By: Paul Nickels, Joe Simko, Ed Schoenberg, Steve Thomas & K-Byte, Designed By: Ogdon Micro Design Inc., Artwork: Paul Vernon, Theme: Paul Jaquays, Release Year: 1988, Genre: Racing Sports, Number Of Players: 1

Ah, life on the open road! If you've always fancied yourself as a cross-country driver, with oil on your hands, grease in your hair and a tiger in your tank, get your gear and get ready to roll.

Having chosen a course from four different types of terrain (boggy Georgia mud-flats, two desert tracks or a Michigan winter landscape), you select one of four freaky four-wheelers for the race (try saying that 44 times after a lager shandy.)

Time for a saunter down to the local auto mart and custom shop. Here you can brew all your money on spare parts, fuel, mechanics and extra tyres (not necessary if you look like Gordo) or play safe and just spend a bit.

The race itself has you braving the elements, avoiding obstacles, driving through bogs and negotiate rivers. Symbols on the dashboard give a colour-coded indication of damage sustained by various engine parts. If your vehicle becomes unroadworthy or gets stuck, it stops automatically for repairs. (You did remember to bring to right parts - didn't you?)

Checkpoints, dotted along the length of each track, are opportunities for repair and refuelling. The longer you stop the more chance there is of other cars passing you.

M.E.
The title instantly tells you that this game us trying to emulate the classic Buggy Boy with a few additions to jazz it up. The strategic elements are quite well thought out and presented, but the racing sections are... well, poor, to say the least.

Epyx have tried to put a few Buggy Boy tricks into 4x4, such as the rolls and two-wheel driving, but unfortunately it hasn't worked too well. The 3D isn't too convincing as there are only a few landscape features to give any effect of perspective.

The definition of the cars and other objects isn't too good either, as they're blocky and poorly coloured. This, coupled with the very poor sound don't induce much wish to play the game, and even the most hardened race fans won't be too enthralled. Once again the advice is to stick to well-tried race games like Buggy Boy and Pitstop II.

K.H.
I bet you're all thinking, 'It's an Epyx game so the presentation's got to be good'. And you're absolutely right. It's just that once you've gone cross-eyed trying to decipher the instruction sheet and picked all your extras there isn't that much to it.

For a start all the landscapes, from desert to mud-flat, look virtually the same: I can only assume that all the other racers have rushed off to consult an optician in response to this, because hardly any of them are actually on the track.

I ended up using the wrong tyres and crashing on purpose just for a bit of variety. Forget about excitemnt and breathtaking action: the only sharp intake of breath that this simulation could give rise to is a snore.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 84%
Loads of easy-to-use options - an off-road racer's dream.
GRAPHICS 59%
Neatly designed four-wheelers rev up against bland and boring backdrops. The pre-race shots are pretty neat.
SOUND 49%
Front-end ditty plus typical engine drone.
HOOKABILITY 60%
The idea captures your interest at first...
LASTABILITY 46%
...but any initial enthusiasm doesn't last.
OVERALL 56%
A technically competent racing sim spoilt by incredibly laborious gameplay and a total lack of variety.


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