by XICAT Interactive Reviewed by: Ben Piazza
All of mankind have separated their differences and worked together to make the world free from the troubles of disease and poverty. Things have become a virtual paradise, yet in the glory of it all there is still something missing from the heart and soul of each individual. People have found that without the worries of everyday life that their lives have become dull and without meaning. Now they seek to fulfill their lives with excitement through a new breed of extreme sport entertainment called The Ballistics. Based on the old world's Formula One racing, The Ballistics use an upgraded form of hover bike and magnetic technology to fuel their appetite for danger. The pilots of these impressive crafts are chosen from their teens to be physically altered to adapt their frail human bodies to the stress of the high velocities. The process is quick and easy, usually adding support to the skeletal system and enhancing the reactions of the pilot turning them into the ultimate athlete of the future. The roar of the crowd and the thrill of the race fuels each of these pilots souls for now they are part of something bigger then anything before them, they are now part of The Ballistics.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
You’ve got to remember that nothing is free. In the beginning of the game the only bike that you can afford is large and bulky, which slows you down during the race. To get more cash to spend you’ve got to perform amazing stunts that will impress the crowd. Now this is one of the better ways to earn cash quickly but it is also a great way to lose the race. The more stunts you perform the better chance that you’ll crash into one of the obstacles or have one of your opponents pass you to take the lead. If you feel unsure about performing a variety of different stunts, you can always focus on the race and try to win. Depending on how well you ranked in the race, you can also get a large chunk of cash to spend before the next race.
Now how do you win the race? First you’ve got to learn how to control your bike. You’ve got to understand that your bike uses a magnetic repel unit to keep it hovering over the track. This allows it to virtually move at whatever angle the track supports. It also means that you can make your bike move at speeds that would suck the eyeballs right out of your skull. Sounds like fun, my friend? It is more than fun, it’s a way of life. To keep things interesting you have to worry about obstacles on the course like walls or the other contenders. So if you want to avoid them, you can decide to detach from the course. With this option you can jump from one part of the track to the next without having to move around the other players. On the other hand that means you have to sacrifice the ability to maneuver so you may crash and burn the first couple of times.
So, how fast is fast? Since the game is made to move as fast as you can imagine then it really depends on how well you can keep track of the course in front of you. The better you are at maneuvering the course at high speed, the more cash you’ll be able to gather and the further you’ll progress through the game. Keep in mind that you may want to take it slow for a bit since the course is littered with items to boost your speed and keep your bike from overheating. If you move too fast your bike will overheat, and if that happens then you’ll kiss goodbye your chance at first place. Keep your wits about you and if you can hold it together then you’ll be rewarded with money.
So now that you understand how the game works you should get familiar with how to control your bike. You use the keyboard for almost all of your basic needs. Since you are attached to the track you can only strafe around the track but if you decide to detach you can attempt to jump from one part of the track to the other. I’ve found that this is usually more pain than it is worth, since it is difficult to reattach your bike in a decent amount of time. Most of the time you’ll just crash and burn, so unless you’re a master at the technique it is best to avoid it all together. You’ll also need to be aware that you’ll need to use your keyboard to cool down your craft so you don’t overheat. I didn’t really like having to keep watching the heat gauge, especially when I needed to keep my eyes on the track. If you need an extra bit of speed to get by the other contenders you can press a button to get a boost of speed. It can really come in handy when you need to get in the lead quickly. By clicking on the mouse keys you can adjust your speed. While playing the game I found that the controls could be more of a hassle then their worth so you should configure them to work better for you.
So how fun is the game? I had a difficult time getting into it. I never really liked it when I would have my bike detach from the track to snag a passing power-up or to attempt to steal the lead from one of the contenders. It usually blew up in my face and discouraged me from using that technique later in the game. I also had a hard time dealing with how fast the bike could go and would find myself hitting a barrier or missing a greatly needed power-up. I found that I would become frustrated with the game and would have to come back to it later.
The saving grace of the game would have to be its superb graphics. A large amount of detail was put into each bike design. Even the basic bikes that are made to be big and bulky still look like they belong out of something from the movie Blade Runner. Most of the bikes are designed to look dark and gritty, but if you choose you can adjust them to give them colorful racing stripes or to decorate them with flames. I felt like I could almost reach out and touch them when they passed by on the screen. If that wasn’t enough, the courses each had their own special flare. In the first race you get to race through a fancy looking city with flashy billboards and flying cars. Occasionally you can see yourself suspended above the city looking down at the ground below littered with cars and people. The further you get into the game eventually you can race in some sort of rain forest. It was amazing; the plant life was so huge that it made my character and bike look like nothing more than insects. With all of this included and a great splattering of colors and textures, it makes the game eye candy for any player.
Nothing really impressed me about the sound effects of the game. You’ve got yourself a witty announcer who I could barely make out over the roar of the engines. Plus, all those darn engines kept getting on my nerves. The only reason that I kept the sound on at all was to listen to the good music. The soundtrack was upbeat and really catchy which was probably why I liked it so much. It reminded me of something that you’d hear out of a good science fiction thriller or at a ritzy dance club.
I didn’t have as much fun as I could have. I felt that a few of the elements of the game ruined it for me. I didn’t like that the bike could detach. It’s supposed to be used to help you but it always caused me more trouble than it was worth. Also, I had an issue with how poor the sound effects of the game were. I felt that if the graphics were done well, the sound effects should have complimented them. For these reasons I had to scratch off some precious points. Since the game wasn’t terrible and I had a few good hours of gameplay, I still gave it a generous score of 74. It looks like a good game with strong points like graphics and originality but the downsides keep it from ever excelling to the level of other racing games.
Review Posted On 11 November 2001.
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