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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: January 20, 1998
From Sierra and Papyrus comes the latest foray into off-road racing games, SODA Off-Road Racing (SODA stands for Short-course Off-road Drivers Association). This game attempts to capture this style of rough-and-tumble, teeth shattering, fender-bending racing. Get behind the wheel of a 2×4 wheel buggy or 2×4 or 4×4 truck and go spinning, jumping, and speeding around the three types of off-road tracks. So grab your favorite wheel or controller and jump into the seat for some off-road excitement.
There are three types of short courses in SODA to race on: Forest, Desert, and Tropics. Each type has four standard tracks of differing shapes and styles. Some are simple figure eights or largely circular and can be mostly flat, while others can be quite curved or include huge hills and jumps. The look of each type of course is consistent with the theme. For example, desert tracks are fairly flat and sandy and devoid of any trees, while the tropics courses are set on a lush, green tropical isle with lots of water.
The game can be played using the keyboard, a game controller, or a steering wheel. Support is included for controllers that use force feedback. You’ll have to configure your controller in the options menu before you play to ensure that it is properly calibrated for the game. SODA also allows you to set other controls like customizing the numerous graphics settings, whether or not vehicles can be damaged, if you want to use your radio to talk to your crew chief, volume controls, and other such game variables.
You can choose to play the game in either single player or multiplayer mode. Multiplayer mode is supported via modem, LAN, TCP/IP, and Mplayer (although at the time this was written, it wasn’t available on Mplayer). In single player mode, you can choose to try a single race, or play a series of races. For a single race, you can decide how many laps you want to run (3-20), how many opponents you want to race against (0-5), how strong your opponents should be, and what your starting position will be. These options are all set in the options menu and apply to every single race you play until you change them. If you simply want to practice the course without anyone else out there, the game has a practice mode for every course. From there on out, it’s a simple matter of making it around the course and passing through the checkpoints in the proper sequence.
Your on-screen info tells you what position you are currently in and what your current time is. When you pass through a checkpoint you’ll get info on the interval between you and the next closest driver in front of you, so you know how far back you are. If you choose to have your radio on, your crew chief will provide you with info on other vehicles as they try to pass you or give you advice on your driving. Once the race is over you’ll get info on your best lap times and how your race time compares to others. At any point during the game you can use the replay system to watch a particularly great move or spectacular crash. You can even save all or part of your replays and send them to friends.
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