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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: June 21, 1998
Even though I have been somewhat inundated by racing games lately, I have most eagerly anticipated the release of Motorhead. Designed by the Swedish company Digital Illusions and marketed in Europe by Gremlin, it is still not officially out here in the United States. But thanks to Fox Interactive, the American distributor of the game, I managed after much pleading to get an advanced copy of the final version before its initial release, so that I could give all of you a special early look at what is to come in just a couple of months.
This game certainly fulfills its promise as a true arcade racing game. No matter what you do you cannot damage your car or run out of gas. Moreover, when you drive around you feel like you are in a futuristic environment, with strange vehicles passing overhead, rather than in some real world setting. The cars are not supposed to look like real racing models, and the usual racing decals are noticeably absent. Thus the game’s design stands in contrast not only to racing simulations, but also to arcade racing games such as the Need for Speed and Test Drive series, which attempt to portray actual racing settings and racing cars as realistically as possible.
Complete customizability is pretty close to what you get with Motorhead. You can control your car with the joystick, mouse, keyboard, or steering wheel. You can even determine the exact color of your car out of a large palette, quite a switch from the limited color choices in Need for Speed. The photos of each racer are shown at the end of a race, and in a quite clever move the designers of Motorhead allow you to insert your own photo (or any picture of your choice scaled down to the right size) for your own car’s driver. I tested this feature out with a picture of Brutus, the villain from Popeye, as my picture, and it was really a kick.
With a total of 8 distinctively different tracks and 10 different cars in the game, Motorhead certainly does not lack for diverse excitement. The game does not indulge in cheap filler to expand its replay value, the way Ultim@te Race Pro did with having a few distinct tracks that looked like more because of reverse, night, storm modes and the like. The tracks provide reasonably long race experiences, with the number of laps needed to complete a race being user-controllable. I found the selection of physical environments a refreshing deviation from the standard “snowy mountain/sunny beach/crowded city/green country” choices.
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