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LTD for ASC Games



Gremlin Interactive,

1 Player

Game Type

4x4 Racing

Mem. Card

Review Date

Feb 1997

Setting the Scene

There is already a glut of racing games available on the PlayStation. You can sample the glamorous world of Grand Prix with Formula 1, bash around an oval with Destruction Derby, and hover at excessive speeds with WipEout.

In search of new and exciting racing formats, developers are introducing us to jet bikes with Jet Moto, acrobatic skiers in Cool Boarders and now there appears to be another little craze on the go, a driving game with a twist.

This is the first of a new breed of racing games that takes you off the main drag and onto the beaten path...literally. Strap yourself in and get prepared for a bumpy ride as ASC Games brings the excitement of off road racing to the PlayStation, with Hardcore 4X4.


If you have ever thought of taking a well equipped 4 wheeler on an off road expedition, then this game might just wet your appetite before trying the real thing. You are given 6 trucks to initially choose from, each with their own handling characteristics, and a selection of 6 off road tracks to test your skills on. So, buckle up, put on your helmet and get prepared to chew some dirt!


The trucks are made up of some of the nicest looking polygon graphics that I have seen in a racing game. Each truck is highly detailed sporting different colors, showing visual damage when hit, and reacting very realistically to the terrain. The graphics for the courses are quite simply breathtaking.

Everything is highly detailed, moving along at a very nice frame rate, with no polygon breakups. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the courses are using such highly defined texture mapping, it is often difficult to determine when a turn is coming up....everything blends in so nicely that you often find yourself slamming into a wall and losing valuable time. Once you become familiar with the track, you are able to negotiate the turns more effectively, but it is still a major annoyance when you first pick up the game.

Hardcore 4X4 makes full use of the Playstations capability to produce some excellent effects throughout the game. Transparency is used to create some atmospheric fogging and smoke effects, while the snow and the rain look very realistic. The programers have done remarkably well to convey the feeling of sand spraying against your windscreen, when racing the desert track, Devil's Kitchen, and if you have never experienced the strain of driving through a blizzard, then a trip around the Arctic Inferno track with the conditions set on severe will convince you to stay wrapped up at home when the weather turns for the worse. While there is light sourcing used throughout the game, I was surprised that when you race in night mode, the trucks do not have headlights! Come on people, in real life it would be pitch black on these courses without headlights, yet in this game you are treated to the same amount of "in front" view, it's just that everything around you is dark.

Sounds and Effects

Excellent truck sound effects are readily apparent right from word go. Each vehicle has a rich throaty sound that sets the correct mood for a truck race. Since there is no rear view mirror, being able to identify the sound of an upcoming truck, might help you to formulate strategies to keep that truck behind you. You also have the use of an air horn to warn drivers in front of you to get the hell out of your way.

Other sound effects are also nicely done, such as the sound of dirt grinding under your wheels or the crunch of metal hitting metal. You can even hear the springs squeaking on the trucks.

The music is a nice driving rock soundtrack that never quite gives up, but just doesn't put you over the top. There is also a rather annoying announcers voice to fill in the gaps that can thankfully be turned off.


For being one of the first off-road truck games to be made available for home console systems, this game is actually quite good, but it is not without it's flaws and idiosyncrasies. First off, let me say that this game is tough. Even in easy mode, it's no cakewalk, but if you persevere you should win the championship in the opening class. Moving up to pro class, to be honest, can actually become quite frustrating, and here's why. It seems that no matter how quickly or how long you are in first place, smack into a wall a couple of times and you are overtaken by the pack, ala WipEout 2097 Phantom class. If you get yourself turned around, you can pretty much forget about catching up to the third or forth place trucks, never mind winning the race, therefore it is going to take a near perfect performance to move onto the Extreme class championship.

Another thing that riled me is the fact that parts of the course are so narrow that you can't overtake another truck. Why the heck would you make an off road game if you can't get OFF THE ROAD! Grrrrr. Actually there are some spots in the game where you can make some branch decisions on which way to go, where selecting the right path could improve your chances of winning the game.

These flaws aside, the game is actually a lot of fun to play. The truck physics, with their four wheel independent suspension is a wonder to behold. They bounce around and handle very realistically (I know this for a fact , as I have done my share of real off-roading), and under extreme conditions you can even get your truck to flip. You have an option of automatic or shift stick along with novice, pro and extreme driver classes. In extreme mode you can actually cripple the truck so bad that it will be unable to finish the race. I found the manual shift to work extremely well, where you must downshift when going up hills or through gullys and go all out on the rare straights. You can even select the weather conditions which vary from good normal daytime conditions, to overcast, cloudy conditions that obscure your view with rain, snow, sandstorms and smoke, but these will be automatically selected for you during a championship race. Oh, and of course night racing.

Each of the six available trucks can handle any one of these conditions, but no one truck can handle them all, also you need to keep this in mind when selecting your vehicle for a championship as each track has varying weather conditions. I must say that adding a Mad Catz steering wheel to the mix is highly recommended if you wish to experience everything this game has to offer. There is also support for other analogue devices such as the NeGcon controller, use this and you won't be sorry.

There is also a time trial mode that lets you compete with up to eight other drivers to boast the bragging rights for best track times. You can also select a single race mode for when you just want to get in for a quick race or to select a specific track to practice on.

The manual claims that if you win all six courses on the extreme level, then you are presented with a hidden track, but I must admit, that I am nowhere near to receiving this reward

Value for Money

A very good first entry into the field of off road racing. A couple of things could have been done that would have made this game a legend, but all in all it's a pretty good buy. Next time give me a rear view mirror, let me go anywhere on the track that I choose to, give me some of those awesome headlight / foglight packages to choose from and I'll be one happy camper. Right now though, this one will do......and quite nicely at that.





Still as hard as hell, but choosing the right paths to take, greatly increases your chances for victory. It's also a rather nice title to show off your PlayStations graphical capabilities.











Spectacular graphics, accurate sounds and tough challenging tracks, in a game where your wheels barely touch the ground, yet....I feel strangely dissatisfied. Perhaps a few more risky short cuts, perhaps additional wider sections to give a more off road feel, perhaps I'll be able to put my finger on it by next month, but one thing I am sure of, Hardcore 4X4 is crying out for a two player option.








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