Barnstorming is the name of the game in this aeronautical racing game from Activision. Speed and accuracy are required over a total of 2S6 different levels in an aircraft that looks as if it consists of an engine, the wings and you.
The world and his wife seem to have gathered at the small town of Buckeye. Fliers of every race, colour and creed, amateur and professional, man and woman have turned up to compete in what has been billed as the greatest race ever. The only requirement is the courage to fly one of the GeeBee aircraft. Designed to be highly manoeuvrable in the air, it can take corners very tightly indeed, if you dare.
For most of the races, it is simply a matter of completing the course as quickly as possible. The course is marked out with flags. 3nd points are only awarded for the time spent within the markers. In addition, should you happen to stray off course, time passes at four times its normal rate so that achieving the qualifying conditions for the next round might prove tricky. Extra points are awarded if you finish the course quickly and you may get a carry forward bonus of a few extra seconds for the next stage.
Controlling the plane is simplicity itself. Climb and dive, left and right are all controlled from the joystick. There are only two speeds, slow and fast 3nd your only cockpit controls are an altimeter, speedometer and compass which are for information only.
Every fourth leg is a special event, cither balloon popping or slalom, designed to test your accuracy in the air. With the balloons, you have to pop a certain number before you start to score points. It is relatively easy to hit them at low speed as you have plenty of time to change direction accurately for the next one. At the higher speed it is all too easy to get out of synchronisation and you start missing large numbers.
A Smashing Time
Not surprisingly, hitting objects tends to have an adverse effect on your aircraft. It is certainly possible to survive minor mid air collisions - wing clipping and the like but the tactic is not recommended. Should you be unfortunate enough as to suffer a crash, you parachute gently down to earth - some nice graphics here. The packaging shows you landing in a haystack being watched by a pretty girl but the only places I seem to land are in the middle of a desert, watched by large cacti and the skulls of long dead cattle! If you do crash, you can restart from approximately the same position that you left the race.
You get two attempts to complete each course within the allotted time. Success takes you on to the next leg, failure to (hopefully) the high score table.
There is nothing sophisticated about GeeBee Air Rally whatsoever but the game is enormous fun to play. The ability to overtake a plane by flying under or over him as well as around him adds literally another dimension to what is basically, a 3-D Pole Position. And judging from the popularity of that game, that can't be a bad thing can it?
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