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Written by  :  Roedie (5250)
Written on  :  Jul 24, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars

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Weird “RPG-ish” bike trip.

The Good

Harley Davidson: The road to Sturgis is one of those games whose basic concept is both novel and appealing, you're a biker dude who has ten days to get from Eastport (Maine) to Sturgis (South Dakota). So you head for the open road and cruise along America’s interstates. Although the big party is in ten days, there's no time limit. This is where the RPG aspect comes in, you can decide to drive to Sturgis as fast as you can and arrive as a wanna be or you can hook up with the local gangs you meet along the way. In every city locals organize an event. By competing in those events you can earn the money you need to upgrade your bike and more important, the respect of your fellow bikers. Some of the events are: hill climb, drag race, slow ride and bike drop. The first time I played the game I opted to go to all the events and parties, I arrived in Sturgis as a rugged veteran and way too late. Just as with any other RPG you distribute skill points at the start of the game, the categories are: riding, wealth, mechanics, charisma and brawling. So if your charisma is high, you might be able to talk your way out of speeding ticket or get some free “services” from those loose gas girls. The way you distribute your skill points affects the gameplay more than I expected from a driving/action game.

The game is one of a select group of biker games and is a solid attempt at capturing biker culture. The digitized images of bikers add to the atmosphere. The graphics of the driving part of the game are nothing special, but I enjoyed watching my character turn into a real Hell's Angel type of guy during my trip. There are eight different events, so there's some variety. Also the game has Adlib support, so you won't be annoyed by your PC speaker (wasn't common back then). Finally, the game has proven educational value; I know now where to find Sandusky (Ohio), Worthington (Minnesota) and Bangor (Maine) on a map. What a way to improve your knowledge of topography :-)

The Bad

Unfortunately a cool premise is no guaranty for a cool game, and this game certainly has some major faults:
  • First of all, the driving is as much fun as bad version of Test Drive (which, to be honest never was a lot of fun) can be. There are 31 stages but they all play & look the same. The scenery is very repetitive and there are no major differences in route/road layout. To make things even more boring, driving at high speed always results in a speeding ticket because you can't escape the fuzz. They will immediately catch you, even when they're driving towards you. Trying to out run the cops was the best part of Test Drive.
  • Moreover, the controls are not very good. You'd better save some of those distribution points for “Riding”, if you want a somewhat pleasant driving experience.
  • You have only one save slot.
  • Nowadays it isn't an issue any more, but the loading times used to be long. And when you don't have enough memory available, the game automatically starts with CGA graphics (instead of EGA), even when your video card supports 16 colors.
  • You can decorate your bike with dead skunks, buy yourself a tattoo, pilot goggles and one those old German WW I helmets, but these changes are only visible while you are standing in front of the shops, not when you're driving.

The Bottom Line

Harley Davidson: The road to Sturgis is a weird game. Fun to play just once or maybe twice. The addition of RPG features saves what would otherwise have been a very poor driving/racing game.