Recently, there's been a handful of racing/shooter arcade-style games coming out. We've had Breakneck and Demolition Racer and now, Road Wars has joined them in expanding the genre of getting in a car, racing some laps, all while taking some potshots at your competition. How does Road Wars stack up? Let's break it down.
Road Wars has a good number of tracks which is something many recent games have been leaving out, the whole "we can race them backwards and count them as a second track" mentality. Road Wars DOES have this "feature" but it also includes plenty of tracks, fifteen in fact. In the racing league mode, it breaks down into four tracks raced in both directions for the beginner league (total of 8 races), five for the intermediate league, and six for the advanced league. It's a good method for breaking it down, much better than some of the lame ideas I've seen in other racing games, like the recent Test Drive series.
When I first booted up this game, I was in complete and utter shock. I was staring at what looked like an old DOS game from 1993-1994. The game menus looked so archaic, with highly pixilated graphics. It looks a lot like those old 256 color games where it looked like they had just run out of colors for making the pictures look right. The menu reminded me a lot of the original Carmageddon, which was okay back in the day, but it's well past its prime. Road Wars just wasn't off to an impressive start. Downtrodden, I quickly started up a single race. After the rude welcome to the game, I was somewhat shocked to see half decent in-game graphics. The modeling is clean and seamless and the off-track sprites are nicely done. Some special effects are pretty sad though; the lens flare is a sprite instead of true 3D lens flare and the weapon effects are pretty substandard. It's not the best graphics, but I've played much worse (once again I'll reference Test Drive). The car models are nice and look like real world cars (although there's no official licenses).
In addition to the retro graphics, you're subject to a retro early 90's sounding metal soundtrack. I'm not impressed and I doubt anyone else that's still not living in the late 80's and early 90's will be either. Sound effects are pretty blah, limited to very few sounds for all of the various elements of the game, from crashing to gunfire. Environmental sounds are very limited and there's just not anything overly exciting.
It's not a particularly innovative attempt into the "muscle your way to victory" racing genre. The only major thing that sets it apart from others is the added difficulty of being attacked by stationary weaponry around many of the tracks. So, in addition to your opponents, you're also getting attacked by the track itself. From cannon fire to electric barriers, to whatever other weaponry they decide to through at you. Otherwise it's pretty much your usual racing game, prize money awarded by how well you finish, if you finish at all. There's really nothing too amazing in here at all. The tracks are well laid out, and there's a lot of variety for so many tracks. There's three track styles, raceways, streets, and off road, so there's somewhat different driving styles. This brings me to another semi-unique aspect of the game. Road Wars also features a garage and persistent damage. If you take damage during a race, you can repair in between races and upgrade your car's parts. Many racing games should have had this feature because it just adds a lot more to the game.
You have a choice of ten drivers, each with their own special abilities, from discounts on parts and repairs, to better traction, to free tires. This makes for a little variety, but all the cars drive the same so there's no other differences other than what upgrades you've done. Weapon selections are pretty generic but add to the whole Road Wars feel. I found that most of the damage ends up being done by the track rather than your opponents, so weapons, for the most part, take a backseat to just keeping your car in one piece. You only get points if you finish the race, not for taking out other cars, and if you get taken out, that's zero points.
I'm sort of sick of racers these days. Adding guns just doesn't really cut it anymore. The arcade-style games, like Mario Kart, have flooded the genre and have limited the entertainment value of an arcade racer. What I'd really like to see is another Demolition Derby type game, something more along the lines of last man standing. Enough of the blah blah racing crap! Someone needs to make a game where you have a garage and you build a car not to race, but to destroy everyone else. Something more realistic than games like Twisted Metal. Yeah... I can dream, can't I?
Road Wars isn't anything special. While it's not complete garbage, you'd have to be pretty bored to really want to pick this title up.
People who downloaded Road Wars have also downloaded:
RC Cars (a.k.a. Smash Cars), R/C Helicopter: Indoor Flight Simulation, RS3: Racing Simulation Three, Need for Speed Underground 2, Leadfoot: Stadium Off Road Racing, Rowan's Battle of Britain, rFactor, Search & Rescue: Vietnam Med Evac
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