Big Red Racing is what you should look for if you are into arcade-racing games with multi-player support. This racing game is however completely the opposite of such titles as "The Need for Speed" or "Indycar Racing" whose realism is the primary element. Instead, "Big Red Racing" features fast driving in a 3D environment where you can drive freely with the most unbelievable range of vehicles, playing the whole at frantic speeds.
The game offers three different means for playing. With the single-player race mode you have access to all tracks and vehicles. This is perfect when you are up to a quick race or just want to practice with a particular track or vehicle. If instead you feel like you need a real challenge, try out the single-player tournament mode to become the Big Red Racing Champion. You will have to progress through five rounds of increasing difficulty before you reach the final and possibly win the coveted title. Each round is made up of several tracks in which you must be victorious for a certain number of them if you want to move on to the next. Finally for multi-player addicts, Big Red Racing features three possibilities. You can play with a friend on the same computer using the split-screen mode.
Prior to any race, you must go through a series of choices to select your character and vehicle logo, change keys eventually, and enable damages or not. Six different characters from various nationalities (French, British, American, Russian, Italian and German) are available for your liking with two women and four men. Once your choice is made, you then decide of which color will be both your character and vehicle. Additionally to further more customize your vehicle, you can decorate it with a decal chosen among an original selection. Now that you are almost ready for the race, there is one last thing that has to be set, the damages. This last option allows you to turn damages on or off, and specify how resistant your vehicle is with a scale ranging from 0 (though) to 100 (fragile).
After all these choices you will end up in the track selection. With a range of 24 tracks mostly located on Earth's surface, but also on Mars, Venus and the Moon, Big Red Racing is the first racing game to bring so much diversity in track terms with seven different environments. You will soon find yourself strapped in your drivers seat on the most unusual tracks ever! Experience racing on the rivers of India, in the sky of Hawaii, or the rocky surface of the Moon! Tracks are grouped in three levels of difficulties and features a brief description summary. If you prefer to see the entire track, you must first select it and then choose the preview option. This will bring a helicopter fly-over of the circuit in which you can use the mouse to change the view. You will also hear comments about any particular obstacles or special difficulties you may encounter on the track. If the track seems adequate for you, then there is only one choice left, very important though, your vehicle.
As vehicles are not always compatible with tracks (imagine an inflatable water boat in the Australian desert), there are only two vehicles to choose from at a time. Several characteristics such as top speed, acceleration and robustness are displayed with the vehicles to help you in your decision. The game contains 16 different vehicles divided into eight categories: Aerial, Off-Road, Dirt, Water, Sci-Fi, Quarry, City and Snow. In fact, from helicopters to snow plows and futuristic planes, Big Red Racing has them all, and thus brings all possible driving experiences to players.
There are several views available during the race. By default, the camera is placed behind and above your car, but you can switch through two other external views. It is even possible to customize the camera angle using the mouse. Moving it with the left button pressed will change the position of the camera, while the right button will change the zoom factor. Another camera angle is available, but it is unlikely that you will use it while driving. The track-side mounted camera whose views are similar to watching a race on TV, is far better for a replay. Not the best, but surely the most realistic is the internal view that brings you inside the vehicle. If you want to feel the real thing, that's the view you must choose. However, with bumps and jumps all over the tracks, you might get sick of this non-stop bouncing after a while, and finding your way on the circuit might not always be an easy task.
If the graphics look good in VGA, they look even better in SVGA. Sure, it takes more processing time and therefore needs a bigger machine, but the results are definitely worth it. Besides the window size is adjustable and other parameters like Vision and Texture distances allow you to change the graphic quality to accelerate the game play. Otherwise, the auto option will evaluate the performances of your computer to bring the best graphics and game speed.
Big Red Racing would not be complete without its great MTV style soundtrack and the irresistible commentaries throughout the game. Each track has its own commentator who not only speaks with the particular accent of the region, but also makes laughing commentaries on your driving skills. Whenever you feel irritated by their often irreverent remarks, you can turn off commentaries in the sound options. In this same menu, CD music and sound effects volume can also be adjusted with sliding bars.
As soon as you run the game you can tell by the way the menus are displayed on the screen that the atmosphere of the game has something special, nearly electrical, as if all the action packed within was waiting behind the screen ready to blow out.
What makes this game so enjoyable is not really the wide selection of vehicles, nor the great variety of tracks offered throughout the game, but rather the non-stop action provided by a wild and crazy driving, and it is not the CD soundtrack with the music by Hangnail that will slow it down. From the beginning to the end, you will be conveyed on an infernal rhythm that will only stop when you exit the game.
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Bill Elliott's Nascar Challenge, Blades of Steel, Arcade Pool, Athens 2004, BC Racers (a.k.a. Stone Racers), Big Game Fishing, Duke Nukem 3D, Archer Maclean Presents Pool Paradise
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