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Killer Loop
"The steep learning curve may mean that the less skilled gamers out there may give up on the game before discovering all that it has to offer." Image Loading...
Developer: VCC
Distributor: Crave
Game Type: Racing
Review Date: Jan 00
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Setting the Scene:
 
      As gasoline supplies dwindled and the simple act of driving threatened to become a luxury, the world's engineers were pressed into action to come up with an alternative fuel solution that would sustain humanity's desire for mobility. What the best minds in physics came up with was the concept of magneto-kinetic (MK) driving-technology that would replace the loud growl of the gas-powered internal combustion engine with the subtle hum of an electromagnetic power plant. Subsequently, mile after mile of rough blacktop roadways had to be replaced with the cold, smooth metal surface required for MK-based transit.

These roadways ultimately ended up as the perfect places to race these new magnetic cars. Pushed to extremes, these vehicles could pull some serious G's and really give the driver a rush. The only problem is that the magnets where only so strong and those that decided to push the envelope a bit too far….well, let's just say the end result wasn't what could be considered a victory. .
 
Sound and Vision:
 
      The sounds and sights of this game are excellent. The racetracks are set in different parts of this world and beyond. There is a definite attention to detail in every aspect of the different tracks. Spectacular backgrounds and crisp easy to recognize track-based graphics all combined to create a visual feast for your eyes. Even as you race at speeds of 300+ mph, the scenes flow by smoothly and naturally.

Image Loading...There is a clear heads-up display (HUD) that has all of the information you could ever need while racing... position in the race, speed, fuel status, lap times and your weapons. The presentation of this vital information has been cleverly designed so as not to impede your vision away from the racing action itself.

Throughout the game, there is a futuristic accompaniment of synthesized music. The soundtracks rotate, so it doesn't get mind numbing. Underneath these soundtracks and between musical interludes, you can hear the hum of the electromagnetic vehicle. There are also spot effects when your tripod (that's the MK vehicle) crosses over refueling and magnet charging areas.
 
Playability:
 
Image Loading...      The game begins with four tracks to choose from and three 'tripods' (these are your racing craft). Moscow is the easiest and Hawaii is the most difficult. Once you select your track and vehicle, the race will load.

You must initially spend some time learning to control your craft. Bouncing off walls or getting spun by opponents is a sure fire way to finish last in every race.

Colored triangular markings on the track surface mark the areas where you can collect power-ups for your racer. Driving through Green triangles will refuel your tripod, Yellow triangles will recharge your magnet and single purple triangles give you a weapon to use.
 
Image Loading...When you pass through the weapon triangle, it is completely random what you will get. There are two 'classes' of weapons - lasers and mines. On the HUD, an upside-down blue triangle is a mine layer. A red triangle is a laser. If you get one of these, you can press the R2 button and it will fire the laser or place the first of 6 mines. Now here's where it gets better. If you hold onto that first weapon, going through two subsequent purple triangles will increase the features. The laser will upgrade to a multi-shot laser on the first pass, then to a homing single-shot laser that once it has locked onto the target (another racer in front of you), will hit it automatically and slow it down. The mines will, on the second pass, change to a minesweeper, allowing you to pass through minefields left by other craft without them effecting you. The third pass gives you a minesweeper and a turbo boost that also will knock other racers out of the way when you catch up to them.
 
Progressing through the game requires nearly flawless performance and proper use of the weapons. If you are way behind, fire off any lasers and try to get the mines so on the third pass you have a turbo minesweeper which will move you forward faster. The laser is only good if you have visual contact with the next tripod. I found that with few exceptions it is best to hold the weapons to the third pass. The fully powered weapons are the most helpful. It is handy to drop some mines behind you for those tripods following behind you. This also helps the weapons to not be as much of a distraction that they were at first. I was so busy trying to aim and fire the laser ahead of me, I'd crash into the wall and lose my place. They have much more value if used more strategically.
 
Image Loading...Using the PSX controller is very straightforward in this game. The tripod moves using the arrows or left thumb stick. It accelerates and uses the magnet using the keypad. The L1/L2 moves the tripod left and right and R2 is for using the weapons.
 
If there are any real gripes about this game is the fact that it is one player only and only has two modes: race and time trial. I guess if you don't like the weapons, you can do the time trial. The first few times you try this in race mode, you will be all alone anyway, so the other tripods aren't a distraction right away. The other tripods give you something to shoot for to constantly improve. With all of the fun weapons, a two-player split screen would have vastly improved the longevity of this title. I guess that Crave decided to have a more solid, flawless one-player game with better graphics, than to compromise on weakening the graphics and playability for more than one player. I'd like to see a sequel to this with multiple player options. Maybe they'll do it for PlayStation 2.
 
Image Loading...Oh, one other flaw is that this game makes it very hard to progress to the next level. In order to get to the next level and open a new track and get a new tripod, you must win ALL RACES with the SAME TRIPOD. It takes a lot of playing, but it does get easier. After much stress and perseverance I was able to progress to the second level and open a new track and a new tripod. My options showed two more unavailable tripods. Sheese, more first place races to win! What's interesting is that the tripod you choose then designates the level you're on. So if you like a tripod and want to use it on the next level, you can't. You have to use the new tripod that was unlocked. The new tripod is faster and harder to control, so it's like starting over again. The newly opened track is REALLY challenging with all sorts of curves and gravity-defying turns.
 
A nice thing about this game is that it automatically searches for and loads the block from the memory card. No messing with loading the memory card before continuing on. This is a very nice feature. Giving gamers the option of Auto Save should be the rule, not the exception for PSX games.
 
Game Options:
 
      This is a 1 disk game for 1 Player. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the analog stick controls of the dual shock joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).

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Staff Opinions  
Tom D: "The steep learning curve may mean that the less skilled gamers out there may give up on the game before discovering all that it has to offer. It wasn't until my first (hard fought) victory that I started to enjoy playing Killer Loop - so stick with it - the more you play the better it gets..!

If only this had a multi-player mode it would be one hell of a racing game... as it stands though it is still a rather decent single-player effort that moves this genre forward in many ways.

So there you have it and I didn't once compare it to WipEout…oops! "
Graphics: 18/20
Playability: 38/50
Sound: 8/10
Lastability: 16/20
Overall: 80%
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Reader Opinions  
     

 
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