hioctane.gif - 28.3 K
By Al Giovetti
Price: $60
Genre: Combat racing game
Release: December 29, 1995
Developer: Bullfrog
Producer: Peter Moleneaux
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Website: www.bullfrog.co.uk/games/hioctane

History: Bullfrog has had an unbreakable string of hits. Many other gaming companies have come up with unsuccessful hover vehicle races both with and without combat elements. This genre is overpopulated with duds and Hi-Octanemay not be able to attract attention (remember Cyberdreams’ CyberRace? - Ed.). Will Hi-Octane run out of gas and ammunition leaving Bullfrog stranded on a lone stretch of road without any road service?

Genre: Many people have done this one better as a game, in the playability and interactivity zone. The best one I can think of was an old game based upon the original Car Wars. Autoduel by Origin was for those who can think as well as jerk around a joystick or racing simulator console. (like the Thrustmaster T2 we filmed for The Computer Show recently in our interview with Thrustmaster president, Stephen A. Aanderud. - Ed.) flexwing1.gif - 9.0 K

Plot: In the 21st century, joy riders drive for kicks in a drive to the death. While piloting 200 mph vehicles of futuristic designs, armor plating, missile launchers, and chain guns.

Tracks: Play on nine tracks: Amazon Delta Turnpike, Trans-Asia Interstate, Shanghai Dragon, New Chernobyl Central, Slam Canyon, Thrak City, Ancient Mine Town, Arctic Land and the Death Match Arena. Tracks have canyons to jump (Arctic Land) and caves to drive through.

You drive, or rather fly, one of six cars, which are really hovercraft, from the KD-1 Speeder that looks like a regular car save that it has thick armor on the doors, to the Juga truck which has small jets to boost speed. Each car has special characteristics, including top speed, armour, firepower, and weight.

Views: You drive the car from three perspectives. The first person, in-the-drivers-seat perspective is far easier to judge distances, avoid obstacles, and use weapons effectively. The other two views are third person from behind the car at two different distances.

Modes: both multiplayer and single player modes. Single player modes include championship and single race. Championship mode has a nine track season of racing, while a single race allows you to just race on a track of your choice against the seven computer artificial intelligence drivers. The AI of the computer cars is not very good.

Features: Service stations of three types provide fuel, shield recharge, and ammunition. Powerups found on the road also replenish 10, 100 or 200% of ammunition, fuel, or shields. Special powerups include the minigun, rocket and boost upgrades. The super car powerup comes when you lead by a complete lap.

Difficulty levels: Not only can the game handicap lives to adjust difficulty but there are 4 difficulty levels in the game from victim to immortal will help satisfy both beginners and experienced drivers.

Graphics: Three dimensional textured graphics are changing in real time to provide smooth graphics, which occasionally stutter and jerk gameplay. The graphics are VGA resolution of 320x240 or SVGA at 640x 480 pixels. Good explosions with billowing clouds of translucent smoke, machine gun bullets ricochet of the ground, and other effects add to the realism.

Sound: The 3D sound with an upbeat driving tone compliments the race. Engines rev up, explosions pound and reverberate. Character screams add another dimension to the game, repetitive boredom. You will need to turn it off or down with the handy software based volume adjustment. berserk1.gif - 11.8 K

Multiplayer: Playable by up to 12 players on a network or perhaps even internet, though we did not try it. The two player split screen challenge is a lot of fun for family play, either in the living room with the new combination computer televisions or in the computer room. Just remember its no fair to use your elbows to put your opponent off guard and off balance.

Multiplayer modes include four variations: two player split screen challenge, clone race, death match, and hot seat challenge. Up to eight players can compete with one another on the same machine by taking turns in hot seat mode. Clone race allows you to make a clone of your car, send it to a friend who can now race against your best virtual times and play style. Death match handicaps the other players by setting the lives of each player to different numbers.

The multiplayer options add dimension to the otherwise mundane cooperate or compete multiplayer games. Many multiplayer games are boring because there is no scripted plot, reducing the play value of the game. Multiple modes adds more options and more play value and will be the first step towards making these multiplayer games more interesting.

Hint: Turn the sky off if your frame rate is affected on some systems.

Try the turbo boost before the race starts on the single player version to get far ahead of the pack, before the race even starts.

Conclusion: Many people like this on a lot.

http://sv.net.au/~gazunta/hioctane.htm, 7.5/10 (75%).
www.vidgames.com/ps/software/hioct.html, 4/5 (80%).
Keith Vedal, www.newtype.com/newtype/games/sony/hi.htm, NA
B. Morphin, www.express.ca/etn/octarevi.htm, 9/10 (90%)
www.widearea.co.uk/playstation/hioctane.html, "Stick to wipeout, they did it first and better."
www.megatoon.com/~t15/issue12/hioct.htm, 4/5 (80%).