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Reviewed: Beetle Buggin'
Author: Chris Kim       Date: April 18th 2000
Page: 3

Seeing how most gamers purchasing this game would be casual or families, the designers opted to go easy on the multiplayer options and not to make them as robust as they could have been. One of the better options that the designers opted to include was the split-screen mode, which most games don't include. This allows two people on the same computer to play against each other with half the monitor for each racer. The other option is a simple LAN connection, which isn't any different from the single player portion of the game except with real opponents.

Opponent AI isn't exactly the most impressive, but it maintains its own ground. For starters, the AI does attempt to block off and stop any really obvious tactics that most gamers will employ. This would include cutting off the opponent, ramming the player into the railings/side, and stop/speeding up in situations. This creates for a more dynamic and fun environment. Each racer usually plays as their own and don't work with other computer opponents to take the racer down. Rather, they race to win, although it is quite obvious, the one with the fastest car wins. Like real drivers, computer opponents will crash and collide with other racers to stop their progress on the track. One flaw of the AI seems to be the lack of ability to discern conditions where a move needs to be made. When making a break for the finish line, the opponents will just mind their business even if the player is busting his ass to get to the finish line. There also is the lack of difficulty settings.

Big Jumpin'
Crushin' the Competition
Fire Fart

Being a racing game, the most obvious answer to controlling the game would seem to be an analog stick or steering wheel. This seems to work well enough, although there isn't anything exactly special about the controls nor the ability to race with various devices. Gamepads work very well with the game, despite the controller reading only full presses, which causes the wheels to turn completely. All the controls are easily configured and shaped with the interface, which is very intuitive. The interface is completely mouse driven and each menu command has a keyboard hotkey so usage of the mouse is not necessary. These hotkeys are highlighted on the word in bold; it's easy discern which key to press.

Racing is a joy because the interface is very clean and easy to navigate. Because the game isn't a hardcore simulation, there aren't a million instrumental panels cluttering up the racing screen, just the speedometer and RPM gauge. This keeps the screen available for the racer to see and be clear of. There is one slight oversight with the interface, and that was the exclusion of a rear view mirror on the screen, the player must use the look back key to see what is behind them which will make the driver prone to accidents ahead of him. Other than that, the interface works extremely well.

The NEW Bug
Time for Checkers
I Believe I Can Fly

Being a value title for casual gamers, one would expect a lackluster graphics engine to power the game. This is not true, as the graphics in the game are solid. Most of the models, animations, and textures used in the game are very detailed and contain everything that is needed to make the game look superb. Thanks to the usage of 3D Acceleration, the graphics are much cleaner and special effects are much more effective. Dynamic lighting looks good, but not stellar. The system used to light the path is a standard vertex, which isn't dynamic and stays a consistent shape and size throughout all travels. Most car models are solid and contain the detail and high polygon models to keep them looking smooth and well structured. Environmental mapping is also used to good effect with reflective cars giving off shine and the environment on the cars. Nearly all the textures are very detailed, with the exception of a few; this only appears once the car comes to a halt, however. When racing, the textures smooth out and look much better.

One of the larger advantages of the game is the ability to play the game without a 3D Accelerator. Even without one, the graphics look acceptable and runs at a playable framerate. While it doesn't have the refinement and quality that 3D Acceleration does, it doesn't look awful. High resolutions and 32-Bit color depths are supported with more full color quality and vibrant life once the resolution is raised. Only thing to really complain about are some flat objects such as trees.

Don't Fall
Off the Track

No usage of 3D APIs are here, but the sounds do fill the air satisfactorily. Most of the sound effects are pretty trite and already seen in most games. Items such as crashing, engines revving, and horns blaring are some of the most common effects that are here and there. There really isn't much beyond that for the sound effects, but they do get the job done. The music really is something to listen to. It contains a unique soundtrack from the 60's with lots of old fashioned music that really is ear catching. This is a smart move as the music really captivates and moves, especially the younger generation as the music will pump them up and get them into the game.

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Added:  Tuesday, April 18, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 3/5

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