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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: April 15, 2000
Most racing games on the market today are intentionally deadly serious. Whether they are of the arcade racing or racing simulation varieties, these offerings attempt to increase your tension and white-knuckle excitement to the point that you are literally sweating with concentration. Laughter is the last emotion desired; in some ways, the racing genre appears to be more intent on eliciting the tightly-wound ferocity of a sports competitor. The music, visuals, and opening videos all generally induce the same kind of obsessions with virile intensity as do most television advertisements for high performance vehicles.
Fortunately, there are a few exceptions to this general pattern. One of the most notable is Renegade Racers, a recent release developed by the British Promethean Designs and published by Interplay. With characters that look like refugees from Claymation, this title is lighthearted from beginning to end. Combining arcade racing with the option of combat, this title reminds me most in appearance and gameplay of Ubi Soft’s S.C.A.R.S. and Lego Media’s Lego Racers. It is hard to tell whether the developers were striving more for the fast pace or the giggles along the way.
The story itself is wacky. After a yacht named Renegade had miraculously saved him from an attempted suicide due to boredom when he jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, Buck Billionaire decides to design a Renegade Race specially for those outcasts aspiring to gain a dominant place in the world. Using a media blitz launched from Billionaire Estates, he invites renegades from all over the world to participate in his racing adventure. Far more entrants emerge than initially expected, and from the tens of thousands applying Buck selects 12 participants (including himself) from diverse sources such as the United States, England, Jamaica, the former Soviet Union, Transylvania, and Egypt. Each is a strong-willed renegade from his chosen profession. You get to choose your favorite character and attempt to race to victory.
There are 12 bizarre characters, with six available for you to choose right from the outset. You have a major general who thinks the United States Army has gone soft, a cowboy thrown off his land, a brilliant but bitter Oxford graduate, an Italian gangster, a disgruntled investment banker, a traitorous biomechanical Russian, a frustrated female racing mechanic, a discredited crackpot submarine captain, an alienated hippie flower child, an unlucky Egyptian Mummy, a Frankenstein monster, and Buck Billionaire himself. The short character videos are quite amusing and add to the depth of your ability to identify with each of these looney figures. All of these quirky characters have special abilities and, most importantly of course, individualistic taunts. Each character’s vehicle has unique design and handling characteristics, including speed, acceleration, level of powerslide, and maneuverability, to reflect its owner’s personality. One limitation is that there is not much in the way of tweaking options to customize each vehicle beyond its extremely weird looking initial state.
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