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While you are speeding along the tracks, there are interesting animated hazards going on in the background that directly affects your racing. These obstacles and roadblocks, which may be disabled if you wish, are quite entertaining even though they are not as elaborate as the breakthrough interactive animations in Ubi Soft’s Speed Busters. There is also the same set of six power-ups — turbo boost, oil slicks, firecrackers, bottle rockets, “ghost” invisibility, and electroshocks — as in the original Radio Control Racers, serving to help out your vehicle or impede the progress of your opponents. Much of what you encounter can slow you down or detain you for a bit — such as finding your vehicle drawn inside the mouth of a pesky dog, dodging a tire swing, avoiding a ghostly vortex, or approaching a bizarre water hole which shorts you out — and send you from the front to the back of the pack. The impact of the offensive power-ups is to disable or slow down opponents’ vehicles temporarily, and heavy reliance on them is not really essential to success. Despite this, the combination of hazards and power-ups are well done and add significantly to the game’s value.
Oddly enough, the one area in which there is no change is in the selection of vehicles, although at least now in circuit mode you can make it so that the parts of each vehicle encounter increased wear-and-tear with use. There are four different types of vehicles from which to choose: a monster truck with good traction but that does not jump well; a stadium truck that is stable but slow; a Baja bug that accelerates well but does not take corners as gracefully; and a buggy that has good handling but is light and vulnerable to jolts. I cannot really understand why your selection remains constant in this new installment, as there is not nearly the variety I am used to in racers of this type. In the real world of radio control racers, the range of models available is truly staggering.
Despite some public relations rhetoric to the contrary, Radio Control Racers Deluxe does not seriously aspire to be a realistic simulation of the pastime. Acclaim’s Re-Volt (despite having limitations of its own) is far closer to the real-life experience of this kind of remote control action. Instead, Sierra Attractions has created settings that purposely deviate from the living rooms that many of us remember using for this hobby. As with the 3-D Ultra Pinball series, the goal here clearly is to make the level of excitement much greater than the real thing, rather than simply comparable to it. In the end, controlling the vehicles does indeed translate into pure arcade fun.
As is typical of many Sierra Attractions offerings, there is a lot of tie-in to other titles in the 3-D Ultra series. The Minigolf course is directly reminiscent of 3-D Ultra Minigolf, and the Thrill Ride course links up to 3-D Ultra Pinball Thrillride. Indeed, all the games in the 3-D Ultra series have a similar style of graphics and sound effects. While in the original I resented this tendency a bit as a reflection of a lack of originality, in Radio Control Racers Deluxe, I feel the pattern is perfectly fine because of the dramatically increased selection of both derivative and non-derivative physical environments.
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