Supercars II (Second Review)

Title           Supercars II (Second Review)
Publisher       Gremlin Graphics (1991)
Game Type       Driving
Players         1-2
HD Installable  HD-patch & fix : aminet/game/patch/sc2hd.lha (needs jst)
Compatibility   All Amigas with patch
Submission      Dennis Smith  Profiled Reviewer

Magnetic Fields needs no introduction in the province of Amiga racing
games. Responsible for the trilogy of Lotus games on the Amiga and
having given us the classics Trailblazer and Kikstart II on the 8-bit
computers, racing action is what they do best. Then there are the two
Supercars games and back in the good old days, they showed the world
what the 16-bits could do for the increasingly dull Super-Sprint clones.

In proper Super-Sprint fashion, Supercars II is an old-fashioned
top-down racer, only much more so. As in Supercars, there are plenty
of huge, beautifully illustrated, smooth-scrolling tracks to sling your
motor round. But the weapons choice has been greatly expanded, the car
control is more forgiving and so more fun, and most importantly, there's
a split-screen two-player option. The finest feature of Supercars, the
haggling scene with the car salesman, has sadly been omitted, but the
theme has been expanded into a number of opportunities to talk your way
- by picking multiple choice responses - into earning more championship
points, earning a bit of extra cash, or reducing the size of your police
fine. These scenes brighten up the game between races, but unlike the
ground-breaking haggling of the original game, the more exuberant choices
are almost inevitably the wrong ones. You can turn these scenes off, but
they do still add to the game - and the chance for five extra championship
points is too good to turn down.

The racing itself is (cliché warning) fast-paced and furious. And can be
sometimes frustrating if you are persistently blown up by all the other
cars before you have time or sufficient race-winnings to buy extra shields
for your car. Cars behind you can make your race treacherous with front
missiles or homing missiles; cars in front can fire rear missiles or drop
mines; cars in your general vicinity can make life dangerous with
battering rams or the bizarre 'super missiles' which orbit the firer's
vehicle for a short while. Or you could just suffer the ignominy of being
heavily landed on from out of the blue by any car with a turbo boost or a
suitably placed ramp.

And ramps aren't the only hazards on the course - as well as opening and
closing short-cut gates, the course builders chose fit to include plenty
of unsignalled level-crossings on some of the busiest railway lines you've
ever seen - there's enough railway traffic to give the average commuter a
heart attack, not to mention train-spotters. Bumps and scrapes will damage
your car a little, well-targeted weapons and being forced to act as an
unwilling landing ramp will blow you up, adding more damage to your
vehicle, and will force a short time penalty while you wait for a clear
moment for your car to be replaced on the track. Take too much damage and
your race is over. You can pay to repair damage between races, but if
neither player makes the top five race standings, it's time for the 'game
over' screen.

Finally, in the spirit of pure arcade action, the real icing on the cake,
there is a control option whereby your car automatically accelerates and
the fire button is used to brake. Needless to say, this is the only real
way to play, bombing around at full speed, pulling exhilarating hand-brake
turns at every sharp corner, not forgetting that very satisfying screech
from the tortured tyres.

The split-screen two-player allows for some really competitive play,
against a friend - but don't be surprised if you fall out over the
identity of the originator of a certain missile which blew someone up
just as they were about to cross the finish line. The down-side to this is
that the split-screen view is pretty limited and you'd be well advised to
get to know the tracks pretty well before challenging your mates. At the
speed you're going you need to line yourself up for some of the bends
before you see them.

My one other gripe with the game has now been solved by the Jeff Fabre's
HD-installer, and it is now possible to save fastest times and high
scores, and as such, Supercars II is near perfect. With 21 increasingly
difficult tracks, this game still stands up strong even against modern
overhead racers. Not one to be missed.

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