Mad Trax, released in Europe, is a gem. The course and car designs, the action and just about everything else is, for the most part, top-notch.
One notable aspect that grabs your attention immediately is the cars. They're all equal in ability, a fact made very apparent from the beginning of your race. You receive 150 attribute points to apply to three categories and, although they're distributed evenly to start, you can spread them around as you please. This matters because it allows races to be close. Normally, up until the last second, your place is not determined unless you really mess up. The action is incredibly intense as all cars move at the same speeds (110-mph on the average). In order to win, you must make the most out of your driving ability by taking the inside corners, avoiding collisions and, most importantly, watching out for missiles flying at you!
The power-ups in Mad Trax add greatly to the fun. Scattered throughout each level are spinning pellets floating in the air; if you grab one, you gain a power-up that can be used whenever you please. Power-ups include limited invincibility, the aforementioned missiles and land mines. You must be sneaky to acquire one, however, as all the drivers are after them. Gaining them provides an inherent advantage since you are so close to the other cars, invoking them can make a difference.
The tracks are really nice, very interactive and include bumps, jumps, curves, multiple levels and more. The variety is very good and tracks range from cities to outer space to graveyards in a very futuristic setting. Rayland Interactive did an excellent job with the backgrounds as, like the cars, they're beautiful. They are incredibly realistic and colorful with smooth objects that hint at designs from the not-so-distant future. My only complaint is the cars look very similar to one another with no significant design differences.
Another great feature in Mad Trax is the music. The electronic-hard rock soundtrack sets the mood for fast-paced action that fits in with the futuristic setting very well and adds another dimension to an already exceedingly good game.
Some minor gripes about Mad Trax include the occasional graphical pop-in such as cars suddenly appearing out of nowhere right in front of you. Although they probably fly over you from the previous jump, it's very unsettling and if you'd been able to see the vehicle coming, evading it would be less of a problem. Another slight mishap is the once-in-a-while audio slip up that includes missing sound effects and an inoperative soundtrack. I'm not sure what causes this but I'm quite certain it's a bug in the game and not user error.
Aside from a few simple bugs, Mad Trax is an entertaining, exhilarating ride through the future. With league play, time attacks, duels and more, you'll be kept in awe for a long time. I recommend importing the game as soon as possible and if that's not an option, pray for a release in the United States!
Graphics: The cars move smoothly and accurately. Backgrounds are incredibly detailed and realistic.
Sound: The electronic/hard rock mix is great and helps pump you up. Sound effects could be a little bit more comprehensive but are adequate as is.
Enjoyment: I truly have fun playing the game, the mainstay of any game. The races are exhilarating and fast-paced.
Replay Value: The league is really tough and you must finish first to advance. Overall, the game is very difficult but not to the point of unfairness. It leaves you wanting more and coming back for it.
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