|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
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|Game Type:||Racing||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||October 1998||Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
If you're fed up with the same old racing games that seem to appear in a different box every six weeks or so, then Buggy from Gremlin Interactive, will be just the thing to rekindle your love of all things fast and furious. Buggy gives you the chance to take control of one of sixteen super- compact radio-controlled vehicles. Each possesses a distinctive paint- job and its own unique handling. These buggies are raced across fifteen exotic circuits: from Japanese gardens and sun-swept beaches to subterranean grottoes and sylvan woodlands, but there's more of a challenge to Buggy than simply finishing first.
If you fancy storming around insane tracks in a radio-controlled buggy like some kind of mentally (and vertically!) challenged, extreme sports 'nutta' then this release on Playstation may just be the game for you.
Considering how long Buggy has been in development I was initially disappointed with the visuals. I'm not saying that the game looks poor, far from it... just that it lacked that 'special touch' which I had eagerly anticipated. I certainly didn't get the rush of adrenaline I experienced when first casting eye's over Micro Machines.. more the 'fine, let's get on with it' feeling that I felt with the recent Circuit Breakers. The polygon scenery is bright, colorful and varied with the circuits all tastefully rendered in 3D. Backgrounds include street circuits, lush woodlands, snowy mountainsides, swampy wastelands, sandy beaches... in fact every environment that you would wish to race a remote controlled buggy over, has been catered for. Some of the effects that the buggies give off when a power-up has been activated look pretty cool. There is a nice touch of lens flare immediately after a speed up has been awarded while a trail of crimson smoke emits from all four wheels as it tears along the circuit. Collection of the aggressive power up turns your buggy into rock for the duration of the effect and a Time Stop temporarily turns the visuals black and white. Each of the buggies sport their own colors and flash designs. There is a small radio antenna that protrudes from the roof of the vehicle which wobbles from side to side and reacts with each tumble and turn. This acts as a distraction to the slightly grainy overall appearance of the vehicle. So if the circuits look fine, the effects are impressive and the buggies acceptable... what's up with the visuals? Think back to the days when you owned your own buggy. Whether it was cheap and nasty and had virtually no suspension, or top of the range with springs separating wheels from chassis.. buggies bounced around an awful lot. Now imagine a single camera positioned slightly above and behind the unstable vehicle programmed to follow each and every motion across a bumpy circuit. Yeah, we're talking rollercoaster rides here. If only Gremlin had included a couple of alternative camera views they may have just got away with it. Of course many gamers will lap this retina punishment up. However I thought it only fair to warn you.
Sounds and Effects
Buggies are particularly renowned for their almost ghostly silence. Perhaps that's why they were popular with parents. Of course this was half the fun... a dog sniffing a job lot when a soundless contraption whizzed between it's hind legs, an elderly couple pottering along at snails pace oblivious to the radio controlled buggy performing figure of eights at their feet. For this reason there are virtually no sound effects within the game. The music is excellent and manages to blend together a selection of foot tapping tracks from many styles. So there should be something in there for everyone.
When you first begin playing Buggy there are only four vehicles to select from, each with individual speed, grip, acceleration and weight. You can also only take part in the first two challenge races, because in order to advance through this game you must finish in the top two placing. Seeming as there are only four vehicles in each race this shouldn't cause too many problems. Race selection is made by driving your vehicle around a sizable maze which grows as you advance. Win the first two races and you receive a new buggy, while time trial mode opens along with section two of the maze. Triumph in all of the new races and a third section is unveiled, and so on... Steering the buggy depends on the type of control pad you are using. A standard joypad only uses two buttons - accelerate and reverse. However when using the analog pad the two sticks work very much in the same way as a... you guessed it, a remote controller. Push the left stick up and down to move forward and backwards. Flick the right stick left or right to steer. Excellent idea! All of these tracks are littered with obstacles which can be avoided or jumped. Jumps will propel the buggies high into the air, allowing them to perform stunts as well as providing a novel means of overtaking. If that's not enough, buggy drivers face the double jeopardy of negotiating these obstacles, while attempting to pass through as many of the slalom gates along the way as they possibly can. Although it is not essential to pass through the multi-colored gates, driving through them in a specific sequence will reap many rewards. There are seven different colors and following the on-screen suggestions will produce a variety of power-ups. Short sequences deliver simple bonuses, such as passing through a yellow then red gate gives a short speed bursts, while more complicated sequences deliver extra abilities, like time-stops and mega-grips, as well as a few special moves such as changing your buggy into a helicopter. Certain combinations allow you to access parts of the track that were originally not available. The inclusion of the colored gates adds depth to the gameplay and will offer players the incentive to replay already conquered tracks. There are four modes of play. Complete all of the races in the first challenge and a new game mode will be revealed. There's also the two player split screen mode and single player time trial. The two player mode allows the option to fight it out against a mate with two other CPU controlled vehicles.
Value for Money
Had it not been for the lack of camera options I would probably have given Buggy a definite thumbs up. As it stands... hmmm, best check it out first.
thought the idea of including colored slalom gates into the equation
saved Buggy from becoming incredibly dull. Without them the races would
simply be too easy to win.
I suppose you have to say that the buggies handle very much like remote control vehicles actually do. Whether this was a good idea or not is for me to speculate and you to decide.
At the end of the day if it came down to a choice of buying this game or using the cash for a real remote controlled buggy then I would probably opt for the game. After all it doesn't need batteries.