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While various trends have come and gone, one single solitary fact has remained embedded in the psyche of generations.. that fact being.. 'Bikes are cool'. Not the pedal powered mountain bikes that you buy just because they've got 1042 gears, and only ever end up using one of them.. but motorbikes, heavy metal monsters, the demons of the road. At least that's the general sentiment in Road Rash . You get to sit in the saddle (virtually at least) of some of the meanest monster machines this side
But from what I've said so far, you might be thinking that Road Rash is a sim. Wrong. Road Rash doesn't offer you the chance to fine tune your suspension, or chose from 20 different tyre types, a la F1GP2. And in my book, that's a good thing. While some folks get a kick from fine tuning their virtual vehicle's performance, I'm off the starting grid, and driving the wrong way round the track before you can say 'Oh my god aaaaaaaagh lookoutttt'. Hey, come on.. what's the point of multiple camera views if you can't at least cause a few pile ups?
But I digress. Road Rash does let you trade in your bike during the course of the game, but apart from that, it's hardcore arcade racing all the way. And things can get real nasty. In Road Rash you take part in a number of illegal races on roads across the USA. Once you hit the road, it's a free for all.. you can punch, kick, and generally lay into the other racers to get ahead. Don't have a proper weapon? Just grab one off one of the other racers. But they're just as mean, and they'll be trying to do the same thing to you.
And since Rashing isn't exactly legal, no-one's bothered to clean up the tracks. As well as the other bikers, you'll have to fight off the cops, avoid pedestrians, cars, cones, and practically every other obstacle you could think of. You can use these to your advantage though; if you're being harassed by a racer, kick him into the path of the nearest car, and watch him take a tumble. There's no room for courtesy in this game; only the first three rashers to the finish line qualify, and you'll need to qualify in every one of the five races, if you want to progress to the next level, where things get a lot harder.
If you do hit the asphalt, it's not the end of the world; this is virtual after all, and you can get up without a single broken bone, head back over to your bike, and continue the race. But unless you're far ahead of the pack, you're bound to lose a few placings, and you'll damage your bike. Trash it, and you're out of the race, and quite possibly out of pocket.
You start off with the basic 'rat' bike; a none too powerful effort, and while it'll let you keep up for a while, as you progress through the levels, you'll find that the other bikers become better equipped, and if you don't get a better bike, you'll always be bringing up the rear. Fortunately, you can use your prize money to buy a new bike, from a selection of about twenty, including Sport Bikes, and Super Bikes. The latter comes with a 'nitro' booster, which you can use up to ten times in each race, but it's a lot harder to handle the bike. And all the bikes handle differently; that super bike that you've been saving your cash up for might be okay on straight stretches of track, but when you try to take a fast corner, and find your bike can't handle it, you'll be paying for it. Ouch.
The graphics match up to the action in Road Rash ; In fact, I'd go so far as to say they were better than those in many 'sims'. Why? Well, because in all the proper racing sim games, the 'speed factor' has never been quite right. The speedometer has told me I'm going at 150 MPH or a similar velocity, and yet the scenery and track seem to amble along like I was driving a milkfloat. Road Rash on the other hand manages to provide a real feeling of speed, as you belt along the track, even though the graphics are a bit dated; just try and avoid that car as it comes towards you. Now try doing that while someone's trying to wrap a chain around your neck. Stunning stuff.
The SFX are no less impressive; there's a collection of outstanding music tracks that are played as you traverse the various game locations, though oddly during the actual race, you just get bog-standard non-rock music. Still, the tracks are well worth listening to. Road Rash excels in every area, providing a real challenge to even the most road-hardened racer; and for once, the other racers aren't complete infallible.. they'll make mistakes, crash into cars, and happily kick you when you're down. If you have even a passing interest in racing, or if you're just looking for another gaming fix, you really can't afford to ignore Road Rash. Great stuff.
(review by me, originally posted on GamesDomain)
Please note: The picture Dooyoo has added is for the 2002 Dice version while Im reviewing the 1996 Electronic Arts version.
From Electronic Arts, Road Rash for the PC runs on Windows 95 upwards. The game involves men, women, motorbikes, 5 tracks on 5 levels in which you race against each other in the battle to become champion and win the cup. And if anyone gets in your way just beat the hell out of them including the police. This is known to some as a Classic game which was released on a couple of other platforms to the PC and in its time did offer gamers something more than just a racing game.
The game to me is now a bit old fashioned but can still provide a little adrenaline to make the game more bearable. There are three different options for game play: I tend to stick to Big Game Mode (BGM) which has 5 levels but in each race you do have to finish in 1st to 3rd place to progress to the next level. This also gives more options with the chance to win money from each race which can be saved up to purchase better bikes with faster speeds and even Super Bikes with nitrous-oxide to give your bike a sudden boost to get to the finish post first. Thrash mode is very basic and just involves choosing your rider and a track and away you go. If BGM was a time trial, then Thrash Mode would just be the normal why bother trying boring one.
Mano A Mano however is a bit different as it is a multiplayer but as the manual has translated it to I bet I can kick your ass in a free-for-all motorcycle race followed by an innuendo. This sets up the game for up to 7 other players either on split screen, modem or network with option of a chat box. At the time of first getting the game this was dialup and it even states turning off the internet connection while playing so this was never really an option. All it needs is a 28.8K connection so more feasible now however not an option I ever tried.
The 5 tracks are sort of different to each other but do merge at times from the City and Peninsula to Sierra Nevada and Napa Valley and finally Pacific Highway which seems to be on its own somewhat. My favourites are the City and Peninsula as the streets are filled with characters and inanimate obstacles which are always more entertaining than trees, mud and few characters. I do like the Pacific setting but when youre riding full speed and suddenly hit a rock, there is little chance for survival on your trip to the bottom of the blue sea of death. The game gets boring though. In BGM there are 5 levels each of those involves the same 5 settings but each is extended in length from about 10Km to 35Km and when youre doing the same tracks over and over it does become dull. There are a couple of exciting differences like forks in the road and thinking oh no, did I choose the right one but thats really where it ends. Whats worse in BGM is the fact if you dont come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd you then find out you have the joy of doing the whole race again or you cant progress to the next level. A saving grace is I usually remember to save the game. By the time Im sick of the sight of my riders backside I save it and can continue from there later on I dont think I could handle having to go though every track and every level again just to become champion if I happen to forget to save it. However, after having quickly mastered the game, I find it can easily be completed within about 3 hours but that can seem a long time when theres not much variation.
The graphics, although not particularly high quality, are still flawless at times. Its automatically set to the largest resolution and on Windows 95 caused a few problems which were easily sorted by lowering it. The bikes instrument panel is very clear as that isnt constantly moving about but the background and actual tracks have very large pixel blocks and you can be driving along and find huge sections of buildings and hills missed out. This really detracts from the game play because the settings are really not appealing and at times you can hit an object that doesnt exist and if you fall off your bike and go back to get it, the rider can suddenly walk through barriers that theyd just crashed into.
The game however still has its moments of humour in the form of its obstacles. There are the annoying cones, piles of debris and cars that get in your way constantly but you have to laugh when you see a granny trying to cross the road and as soon as you get up to her, she starts waving her Zimmer frame around trying to knock you out. The easy way to get past her of course is to stay well away or just run her over like you do. The second one I like is the professional looking guy in his suit with his briefcase (recognisable by him wearing something purple on his person) and if you happen to go anywhere near him, his trousers fall down to reveal a rather unattractive pair of red spotted boxers. Now Im not sure if this is just a female observation but personally I can get bored of trying to get people to slam into walls or kick them into oblivion whilst trying to manoeuvre myself and my waving bat yielding arm trying to knock someone else out, so I do reduce my speed from 200MPH to about 20MPH and go wandering through the landscapes.
Do men actually bother? Or do they just want to get from A to B and beat the rest of the opponents? I never win if I do this but can be more enjoyable if only the creators had given the game any option other than going forwards, left or right (even those are limited). The bikes cant go backwards and if in a street setting you cant even go up a side street although a couple of times I didnt bother getting back on my bike I did manage to go so far as to find there were no walls on half the buildings so I ended up standing at the edge of the world and couldnt even fall into it. The only decent thing about walking and taking in the view is the fact that the police cant arrest you for speeding but if youre not on your bike you cant punch or kick them. If you fall off your bike though you dont really have to do anything the rider is on auto pilot and finds the bike him or herself unless instructed otherwise by moving yourself. If we could have gone backwards or even looked the other way we could have gone and found it ourselves but that would be wasting time when theres a race to win!
So how do you win? Its quite simple. Just keep your finger on the accelerator and avoid obstacles and occasionally kick people that ride along side you. There are 13 other opponents in each race and if you get too close they can attack I always wanted to nick their bikes but that doesnt work. I could fall off my bike half way into a race but get back on it and come in first place. There isnt really anything skilful or adventurous to it your direction is forward with the occasional nudge to the left or right. The joy is in the road rage, and battling the opponents while trying to control yourself or using the nitrous-oxide to speed up to 300MPH single handed the bike can be tricky to handle when the police are trying to kick you down. Win the races and save up money because I usually find I have to buy a new bike by level 2, and can then buy a Super Bike by level 3 to help me keep up with the opponents. If arrested by the police there are fines to pay or crash your bike one too many times and you have to pay for repairs. I used to really love the game when I first got it but it was more of a challenge once its been completed a couple of times I just never really felt the need to play it again. Even the Schmooze section where you can spend time visiting opponents who just give you a random line saying they are going to get so-and-so is an area I avoided after visiting as it seemed totally pointless.
The soundtrack to the game is very rock and roll. In Thrash mode, the options of songs can be chosen but personally I prefer to mute the sound as they can be rather cheesy and really not my taste at all. The songs and sound effects are very clear though but earlier operating systems had consistency problems as it never seemed to run smoothly or in time to actual game play. When they do work, the songs give the tracks are more macho feel and need for speed. The game works better using a keyboard but I have tried it with a steering wheel and joystick they didnt seem as reactive and the bikes were harder to control.
I do find the game very male orientated. There are female racers to choose from (although only 2) so Im usually Rhonda with blue hair but on completing a track there are videos of actual bikers usually being greeted by blondes in short skirts and tight tops give me the bad graphics of the tracks any day! These can be turned off though which is easily done and it means you can skip through the pages quicker to get to the next track. This is not a game for children either. The menu options show cartoon drawings of condom machines, loos which have been thrown up in and needles around the place are bikers really that synonymous to girls, drugs and really bad rock and roll music? The game may have the selling point of violence but its not gory at all you never see any blood and it does actually take quite a lot of crashing before the bike requires repairs amazed the riders hardly get any attention.
I have played the game on Windows 95, 98 and XP and found very different levels of performance. On Windows 95 there was always the problem of the computer catching up especially as the game was about to begin. The countdown would get to 1 but then not do anything and suddenly races through the first few seconds of blind navigation to find Ive crashed into a tree or a building. It never stopped me from winning but was a major flaw. The game would also have a tendency to crash after a while. On XP though I have little trouble with performance in fact it has made things a lot better with shorter waiting time between choosing a setting to actually beginning the race.
The manual is useful to have as it does sort out a few of the troubleshooting problems I had and explains what is what. Plus some of it is in biker type talk so gets you into your role from the start. Unfortunately the game is not fully installed on each computer Ive played it on so you do need the CD each time you want to play it.
Road Rash has aged but at least technological advancements have kept the game alive so its still playable today. To me though, the graphic quality has far too many flaws and there is just so little to do compared to more modern games I want total freedom and not be forced just to go in one general direction. The lack of variation between levels does mean its a long game of doing the same things over and over so it does loose its attractiveness quite quickly. The game can be bought from Amazon marketplace only in used condition for £10.99 which I think is stretching it a bit but could possible be picked up cheaper elsewhere. Its not a game Ill be recommending to biker fans or gamers.
Minimum age: 15