Written by  :  Zovni (10666)
Written on  :  Jan 09, 2003
Platform  :  DOS

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Surprisingly good multimedia elements save this mediocre racing game from oblivion.

The Good

Megarace was one of those early titles that brought multimedia glamour and technological gimmicks to an already tried and true formula, mainly that of a 3rd person perspective arcade racer. And guess what? Unlike other games Megarace actually manages to pull it off and the multimedia elements don't detract from the game, in fact they add to it.

The premise of MR is that you participate in a futuristic racing show which, in typical cyperpunk tradition, is violent, completely decadent and filled with satiric humor. Your host is a live action Max Headroom wanna-be by the name of Lance Boyle, who actually manages to deliver his jokes and commentaries in an amusing way that hardly ever gets in you nerves. He is presented in dozens of fmv clips both before and after each race, commenting on the following courses/enemies, giving you some pretty funny (albeit completely useless) prizes and generally appearing in short clips whenever some part of the game is loading. In fact, for every thing you did in the game a small videoclip played to keep the mood up, be it from Lance, the futuristic citiscapes, ads for the show, etc. Theoretically they should become extremely annoying, but they are short enough (and impressive enough) to become bearable, and remember that at the time everyone was really into all this fmv bonanza.

The graphics in the game are extremely impressive, composed entirely of pre-rendered sprites over fmv tracks (kind of like Cyclemania). And as technically impressive as those tracks are, they are even more so from a creative design standpoint. The tracks twist, bend, loop, shoot out into tunnels, huge drops, etc. etc. The cars may all look like the same one, but the tracks sure are amazing.

An element that also deserves praise is the absolutely AMAZING techno soundtrack. True to the game's nature, this element was also given the multimedia wow factor, and the game's music delivers one of the most pounding and entertaining trance/techno soundtracks ever. Suffice to say that most of the time it was the music that kept me going for more in the game, as it keeps you up and about all the time.

The Bad

What didn't I like about the game?? The game!!! Well, to be fair Megarace isn't absolutely terrible, but it's is barely an average racer at best.

The whole point in the game consists of shooting all the rivals until they blow up by gathering weapons and items laid out on the tracks as painted icons. These range from the usual "nitro" boosts to dual lasers, etc. etc. How does the game proceed? You start racing down the track, until you see a baddie up ahead, then you blast it and wait until another baddie pops up ahead, rinse and repeat and hope you get them all before the clock runs out. That's it. Racing game???? Where the heck is the "Race" in MegaRace? This is merely a rail shooter game on wheels, in fact there are no physics modeling in the game at all! Each car handles and moves pretty much equally, and due to the nature of the sprites-over-video backdrop engine, the cars hardly feel like they are racing at all. In fact the whole experience reminded me of an old toy I remember seeing around when I was a kid, a top-down handheld racing game where the track was a looping piece of cloth that served as a scrolling "screen" over which you moved a plastic car sideways giving the illusion that you were "racing". That's how playing MegaRace feels, except the wheels on the cars are rotating and you have a slight perspective change on the sprites as you near the edges of the screen.... whopie-fricking-doo....

The Bottom Line

MegaRace may be a funny diversion due to it's multimedia additions, but make no mistake, MegaRace THE GAME is barely an acceptable piece of entertainment, there's action and it can prove somewhat challenging, but it doesn't hold a candle to any racing/action game out there. Save for the fact that it's a crappy game, MegaRace is filled with lots of entertaining videos and cosmetic enhancements that somehow make up for it's shallow gameplay experience.

Surprising, isn't it? At least I was expecting a GOOD game bogged down by overambitious fmv-itis when I got it.... funny how things turn out.