ATR (All Terrain Racing)

Title           ATR (All Terrain Racing)
Game Type       Driving
Company         Team 17
Players         1 or 2 simultaneously, up to 6 in league mode
HD Installable  No, it doesn't even support 2 disk drives!
Compatibillity  All
Submission      Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer

ATR from Team 17 is the unofficial sequel to Overdrive, and it has been
hyped as the overhead racing game for the Amiga. Seeing as we've had
quite a few overhead racing games for our favourite computer, this is
quite a bold claim indeed. We all remember games like Micro Machines,
Skidmarks (and Skidmarks 2, which was released around the same time as
ATR), Supercars and Roadkill, and I know that quite a number of Amigans
hold one of these games as their favourite Amiga game ever. Can ATR really
compete with these classics? Well, as usual in these reviews, the answer
to this will be revealed soon.

ATR is short for All Terrain Racing, and the game features three different
vehicles: The Formula Special, the 4x4 Jeep and the Hydra Buggy. The Buggy
is a neat all-round vehicle, while the Jeep is best used on rough terrains
and the Formula works best on smooth surfaces. You can choose to buy any
of these cars, but their prices are different. If you buy the Formula car,
you'll have less money to spend on improving the vehicle. You also can't
change cars during the game, so you'll have a clear disadvantage on
surfaces that the car "doesn't like". If you buy a Buggy, there will be
loads of cash left, but this car won't perform well during the later races
when the others have upgraded their more specialized cars.

There are six different terrain types in ATR. These are: Sports, Forest,
Canyon, Space, Alien and Moon. The three last can only be played after you
have reached them in one player mode. With six different terrains to play
on, there is obviously a lot of variation in the game, but I wish the
three last terrains were a bit more different from each other - they all
have a spacey theme. As I mentioned when describing the cars, each terrain
is unique. The sports terrain is the "easiest", because there's a lot of
asphalt-covered road there. The forest terrain is difficult, because often
there is no road! Also, some of the forest tracks are covered with snow
and ice, something which effectively makes them twice as difficult.

In one player mode, you have to race four (out of seven) tracks from each
of the six terrain types. You will start with selecting one of the three
first terrains (Sports, Forest and Canyon). Which of the terrains you
select will affect how the game will progress. Will you go for some "easy"
wins first and select the Sports terrain, or will you try to tackle the
much more difficult forest terrain before your opponents get their cars
souped up? It's your choice.

When the race begins, you'll face five computer controlled competitors.
The action is viewed from above, but not from excactly above your car. The
view is tilted a little, and the graphics have a slight 3d-feel. If you
manage to come in third or better, you'll move on to the next track. The
better your place, the more money you'll get to improve your car with.
There are four standard upgrades: Engine, Gears, Tyres and Shell (armour),
as well as some special upgrades which lasts for one race only. Your
computer controlled opponents will improve their cars during the course of
the game, so it is important for you not to be left behind.

As well as the one player game, you can also play against another human
player. There's even a league option where up to six human players can
take part. The two player aspect works much like in Codemasters old
classic, Micro Machines (or the older CBM 64 game, Rally Speedway): Two
cars race, and the screen will follow the player who is ahead of the
other. If the other player does not manage to catch up with the leader, he
will eventually "fall out of the screen", and the leader will receive a
point. The slowest car will then be sent into the centre of the screen
again (without any pause in the action), and the race will continue. To
spice up the two player races, Team 17 were kind enough to provide us with
some missiles to play with, but I find them a bit useless (fortunately,
you can choose to play without missiles if you want to).

ATR has got gorgeous graphics, just like most other Team 17 games. Not
only are the sprites and landscapes well drawn, but they are really
colourful as well. It is easy to forget that ATR doesn't need AGA to run.
The three spacey terrains are a bit grey, but the rest are colourful and
interesting to look at. The cars are very well done, too. The game is much
less interesting in the sound department, because of a serious lack of
sound effects (probably due to low disk-space, the game comes on only two
disks). The music is quite good, though, and there are several different
in-game tunes.

Now, then, let's look at the gameplay:
The controls works fine. Holding down the firebutton will accellerate the
car (good - I don't like the games where I have to point the joystick
forward to accellerate), and pointing the joystick left or right will turn
the car in that direction. As I said earlier, each car handles
differently, so I won't go into details about this. When you speed around
the tracks, you will come across bonus icons which can be grabbed (by
driving over them). These will do loads of different things, but most of
them will enhance your car in some way. There is also some money to pick
up (well, I suppose that's more realistic than instant speed-ups and
stuff, isn't it?). The most important icon is by far the shield icon,
which will repair your car. You see, if you crash your car, its
performance will get worse, and if you're really bad, the car will soon
snail around like an old Lada which is out of gas.

The track design is... well, devious. ATR features one of the steepest
difficulty curves I have ever seen in a racing game. As I said earlier,
the sports tracks are the "easiest", but you'll still have to expect
oilspills, jumps, waterponds (no, lakes!) and roadcones. Speaking of
roadcones... I HATE THEM!! They slow down your car, they inflict damage on
your car, AND they bloody well reappear after you've crashed into them!
After having crashed into the same roadcone a couple of times, you get
annoyed. Really annoyed. I can't understand why Team 17 didn't include
some easy tracks or a practice option. The game would have been much more
accessible if they had made it a bit more suitable for those of us who
weren't born with a drivers licence attached to our backs.

The high difficulty setting is an obstacle which must be tackled, but once
you do, you'll find that there's a lot of fun to be had with ATR. Infact,
you'll find that it is quite an addictive little game (it's this
addictiveness which prevents you from giving up on it in the first place),
and the high difficulty setting won't prevent you from enjoying it. But it
hinders the two player pick-up-and-play aspect of the game, because unless
the second player has had a great deal of practice, he'll become very
frustrated, very quickly.

So, how does ATR compare with classics like Supercars? Quite well, really.
I seem to remember having more fun with Supercars 2, but I can't
compare the games to each other, because I managed to format disk 1 of
Gremlins old classic a long time ago (a really tragic story, but I will
spare you for the time being). I have played a number of other good games
of this type, and in my opinion ATR beats most of them. It might not
be the best overhead racing game ever, but it's still a great game
(roadcones or not). If I were you, I'd purchase it right away.

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