As futuristic combat racing simulations go, Dethkarz is one of the better I've seen. It's challenging enough to make sure you keep it on your hard drive a while but not so impossibly hard that it reeks of futility. Dethkarz definitely delivers the goods for combat racing fans.
Graphically, Dethkarz is slightly above average compared to contemporary games of its genre. The racing machines are polygon-based but didn't notice any cutouts or disappearing modules that tend to plague similar games. The scenery is very good although there are only four raceways, each divided into three increasingly difficult tracks and featuring its own "look" and character.
The effects that power-ups had were very enjoyable, especially the mushroom cloud that filled the screen whenever one of the Dethkarz was destroyed -- except, of course, when it was mine!
Dethkarz features a good techno soundtrack and a number of good sound effects. The music is definitely a big part of the game as it is with other successful combat racers. Each power-up has its own associated sound and most of them are typically cartoon-like effects.
Dethkarz offers multiplayer support but there is no server set up to allow Internet play. Therefore, unless you know other players that own copies of the game, your multiplayer options are reduced quite a bit.
The only real drawback is the game's repetitiveness. When you take away the weapons, the game is really about racing cars in a poorly formed circle. No matter how you dress that up, when it gets old, it gets old fast. So, while Dethkarz is one of the better combat racers available (c. 1998), it can still get boring.
If you like racing and you like watching things explode, give Dethkarz a spin -- you'll want it in your collection.
Graphics: The car graphics are polygon-based and while not amazingly smooth, they do get the job done. The scenery is good though limited.
Sound: The game combines good techno music with good cartoon-like sound effects.
Enjoyment: The game is challenging but not impossibly difficult.
Replay Value: There are enough courses and cars to keep it on your hard drive for a good amount of time.
Dethkarz is an excellent futuristic racing game that rivals, if not exceeds, UBI Soft's better-known POD in the fun department. The game's name purposefully sounds like "Death Cars" to signal its style as a "combat racing" game: futuristic cars equipped with weapons to fire opponents off the track. The usual cross-the-finish-line-first objective is augmented with having to pick up power-ups and upgrade your car with better weapons.
Anyone who has played Interplay's outstanding Wipeout XL will be familiar with Dethkarz's excellent 3D graphics, branching tracks, and cool-looking cars. There are twelve different tracks you can compete in, each created with a lot of background detail and great flurry of psychadelic colors. You will be treated to outstanding visuals that look as good today as they did in 1998.
As good as the game looks, the gameplay it not flawless. For one thing, it is extremely difficult, at least to novice racers. The cars tend to slide across the road very easily, which makes cornering next to impossible without slamming on the brakes. Since none of the tracks are guarded by rails, this means you will often see your car slip right off the edge of the tracks at sharp corners, losing you valuable time, until you either master the controls or give up playing entirely. Another shortcoming is the limited selection of power-ups: you will find plasma balls, but little else besides these uncreative weapons. The last major downside in my opinion is that you can play only four tracks at a time, gaining access to the next group only when you finish in the top three for each race of the first four tracks.
As with most racing games, though, Dethkarz becomes much more fun once you master the controls and once braking hard at corners becomes second nature. While it is definitely not the best futuristic racing game you will ever play, the slick graphics, semi-realistic and furious action, and a good track selection make for a game that deserves much more credit - at least as much as POD if not more. Highly recommended, but with some caveats.
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