Written by  :  James Hofmann (13)
Written on  :  Mar 30, 2004
Platform  :  Atari ST

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Abstracted post-apocalyptic strategy

The Good

Roadwar 2000 is a one-of-a-kind game(excepting its marginally different sequel Roadwar Europa). Its high level of abstraction allows the player to cover his gang's epic saga very quickly; if some more detail is desired, there is the optional tactical combat. Unlike other games of its kind that have come before and since, playing through the combat yourself is wholly unnecessary to completing the game; you can get a "perfect" result(no friendly vehicles downed) fairly regularly if you come into the fight in good shape and with overwhelming firepower. The fun of building up an empire, one city at a time, and then finding the scientists and saving the world, is a mild and slow-paced thrill, but highly addictive.

The ST (and Amiga) version offer better graphics and sound and an improved interface over the 8-bit and PC versions, but they keep it similarly sparse.

The Bad

Roadwar is too random and unpredictable, and most of its gameplay is a matter of keeping your group alive and healthy, balancing just enough of each supply to keep going. Almost every event in the game is a randomized one, from your starting location through the encounters that take place each time you look for loot or people. The result of this is that much of your time is spent hammering away at the keys to gather up more people and supplies, or to beat up on people to build up your group's skill, since there is no production or training, only scavenging and "combat experience" in this game. When you have your group ready for action, you either hang around in a town waiting for its owners to come out and get beat up so that you can take over, or travel around a little bit looking for scientists until your resources run low again.

Death, after you've gotten a game started(since you start with a pitifully small group that has to risk everything to build up its forces), comes rarely and suddenly, since you have no way of evaluating enemy force strength before hand, or even to have the option of retreating from a losing battle.

The Bottom Line

I didn't like this game when I was little, because I wouldn't play it the way it had to be played - slowly and deliberately. I just wanted to cruise around the map some; of course, that never worked out very well as I quickly ran out of fuel every time.

With an older perspective on it now, I see that the real point of this game was something outside of what the simple graphics showed. If you don't mind some repetition and frustration, you can have a grand evening or two battling it out on the highways of North America, saving the world through your massive firepower and gang hundreds strong.