Written by  :  Roedie (5253)
Written on  :  Mar 11, 2005
Rating  :  1.8 Stars1.8 Stars1.8 Stars1.8 Stars1.8 Stars

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A rather generic and unremarkable game

The Good

Mad Cars starts off promising with a nice comic-book like introduction that looks rather polished for a shareware game with, probably, a small production budget. Mad Cars is not an original game but, initially I did find the game enjoyable. I'm a sucker for games that combine driving & blowing stuff up and like post-apocalyptic settings and this game has both. Races don't take much time to complete, somewhere between 45 and 90 seconds. If you perform well the amount of cash on your bank account grows after each race. Because races are over fast, you'll very frequently receive a reward (cash) which you can use to upgrade your vehicle. This makes the game somewhat addictive. Of course you can also lose money if you suffer a lot of damage during a race or finish 3rd or 4th and receive no prize money to compensate for the entrance fee. On the hardest difficulty setting races can be pretty intense. On the easier difficulty settings the game is rather forgiving since you can play some of the easy tracks as much as you like and thus buy all the upgrades you want before you move on to the harder tracks.

The Bad

There's very little about Mad Cars we haven't seen before in other games (especially Death Rally). The cars, weapons and tracks are all very standard. I'm not saying that the circuits should be as weird as those in Micro Machines but there is just no creativity here. No environmental hazards, no tunnels, no fly-overs, no crossings etc. The weapons are all very basic too: machine gun, rocket launcher, land mines and a useless ram spike. Moreover all your opponents are faceless clones and there is no championship table. Usually developers of these unrealistic racing games include all kinds of cartoon-like characters to make the game a little bit more interesting. Not this time.

In the championship mode you start racing in the novice tournament. You start with the worst car and no weapons and need to win races on 4 tracks in order to get enough cash to participate in the Arena of Death (a kind of boss battle). You can use money to upgrade your car or to pay the entrance fee of tougher, more lucrative races. Once you feel like you've upgraded enough you pay the fee and try to win in the Arena of Death. Should you succeed, you lose all your money & your car and have to start from scratch in a new championship. This championship has only one new track and one new car. This gets very tiresome after a while. In this game you will race on the first few tracks over and over and over (you just have to start on the easy Autobahn track cause you don't have any money). Boring!

No ending, after you've completed the final (platinum) tournament you get to see the standard message saying something like: "Congratulations. You've won the tournament, I'll take all your cash and you'll get a new championship and can buy a new car." Next, you can select a new (platinum) championship and start all over again. There won't be a new car for you to buy. This goes on forever.

Except for the intro, the game's presentation is rather poor. The graphics look very dated (Mad Cars was published in 2004, but it looks like it's from 1996 or 1997) and the music is repetitive. There are not a lot of different songs. The sound effects are OK though. The worst thing about the graphics are the unsharp background images. They look like low-resolution JPEGs (zoomed in too much), which they probably are. The car models are simplistic and primitive. There are no cut-scenes and the menus contain spelling errors. In the garage menu there's a part available that looks like a shock breaker, is called "transmission" and improves your car's "amortization" (do they mean armor?). That's just clumsy.

I've encountered two rather annoying bugs:
  • The money you collect during a race by killing your opponents isn't added to your account after the race. Prize money and money, collected by picking up black spheres with a dollar sign during the race, do get added to your bank account.
  • The Arena of Death mode (a series of battles against 3 other cars, which you take on in serial fashion) crashes after round number 8.

The Bottom Line

Mad Cars is a top-down racer which borrows heavily from Death Rally without adding much original features of its own. Overly repetitive and with just enough content to last two or three days.