Fatal Racing (released as Whiplash in the USA by Interplay a year later) is one of the best stunt car racing games ever made. In many ways a spiritual successor to Geoff Crammond's underrated Stunt Car Racer, Fatal Racing offers high-resolution graphics, a great selection of fantastical tracks, and excellent multiplayer options. |
The basic plot outline of Fatal Racing (if anyone expects such an archaic thing in a racing game) goes as follows: eight major car manufacturers agree to race against each other in a championship competition. Each company (all of which are fictional) supplies one car and two different tracks. These tracks are definitely the most impressive feature of the game, as they take the courses of Hard Drivin' to the next level. Each track comes with its own nasty features, including loops, corkscrews, twister jumps (hit them at the right speed or end up with the roof of the car scraping the ground!), crossovers, loopscrews, and much, much more. This variety of nasty physical obstacles really adds to the game, and sets it apart from other titles.
Gameplay mechanics in Fatal Racing are fairly standard. Gas, brake, shift up, shift down, steer left, and steer right are all used in their most basic form. Beyond that, a variety of view-points can be selected during the game. Network and modem play are possibilities for those willing to put the time into setting games up, and a split screen two player version is available. Although Gremlin received a lot of criticism for bad lagging in SVGA games (and low framerates in general), this should no longer be a problem for today's Pentiums. Other features worth noting include the ability to change the damage levels of colliding cars (which begin to smoke and flame when banged up), six difficulty levels, turning engine damage on and off, and the options to replay and edit video clips of past races.
Don't let the game's friendly interface and great graphics fool you, though -- this is NOT an easy game. On the "medium" skill setting you'll rarely finish higher than 13th place, thanks to impeccably sure-wheeled computer players. For an added level of strategy, you can race in teams of two, and you can send simple orders to your computer-controlled or real-life partner such as "Take out other drivers". This feature makes co-operative multiplayer games a lot of fun, as you and your partner take turns doing each other's biddings. Overall, Fatal Racing is an excellent action-oriented racing game with plenty of options. Smart AI, fantastical tracks, and multiplayer options will keep arcade fans busy for days on end. It may not rival EA's famed Need for Speed in terms of realism or graphics, but for those seeking the white-knuckled adrenaline rush of racing through loops and corkscrews, Fatal Racing is hard to beat. Two thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs