Interstate 76 review by Al Giovetti

interstate76.gif - 7.5 K Interstate 76
Genre: Driving Combat Game, a la Car Wars
Price: $39 - $9
Release: March 1997 (November 1996)
Director: Sean Vesce
Lead Designer: Zack Norman
Producer: Scott Krager
Music Composer: Kelly W. Rogers and Jason Slater
Publisher: Activision
Phone: 800-477-3650
Requirements: Windows 95, 2x CD-ROM

Now that Activision will no longer be producing FASA Mechwarrior titles, what will they be doing with all that expensive combat simulator code they have been developing over the years. The answer is Interstate 76, which is a set of other pilotable vehicles with an armory strapped to them. So off we went to Activision’s studios just a few blocks from the beach in Los Angeles, and the film from this encounter will be broadcast over the show.

Scott Krager, Activision Interstate 76's producer, learned production on th set of Cheers and writing for the Bob Newhart series "Bob." Scott has worked on Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure and Earthworm Jim. Sean Vesce worked on Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure and MechWarrior 2, which is the engine that Interstate '76 is based upon. Zack Norman, Lead Designer and Writer, worked on MechWarrior 2 and the Ghost Bear's Legacy expansion pack.

The plot is simple. You take the role of Groove champion, the autovigilante who is fighting to avenge the death of his sister Jade by the evil kingpin Antionio Malachio (Nope not Ralf Machio - Ed.). This backdrop of investigating a murder provides the grist for the story which involves uncovering clues that lead you further into the plot. Apparently, Malachio, the evil one, is plotting the overthrow of the U. S. Government by the destruction of the largest oil fields in the U.S. in western Texas. i76pic8.jpg - 4.7 K

In this alternate universe or history, the rest of ht world’s oil has been made unusable by a nuclear holicost in the middle east, and the oil reserves in Mexico and South America do not exist. The only oil to fuel the cars that everyone in the ’70s loves is in good old U.S. in west Texas. Activision calls the main plot a TRIP (Totally Realistic Interactive Project).

Drive 25 fully texture-mapped high-resolution muscle cars and truck, even a Semi Tractor Trailer, through the forbidding and beautiful landscape of the southwest. The cars are based upon Chevrolet Camaros, called a Courcheval Cameo in the game, Dodge Road Runner, and other ‘70s muscle cars. Strap these babies with some of the weapons you became familiar with in the Mechwarrior games and some brand new weapons, like the cinder-block-dropper, modify the engines, armor, and other aspects of the car, sorry there are no shields on the version they showed me in our visit, and get out on the road and blow things up.

Like the original, objects are not a problem, you can drive over or through them. And there will be canyons, deserts, highways, and small towns peopled by the innocent and the not so innocent in a war for the survival of the world as you know it. All this time ‘70s style disco music is playing through your sound system speakers and people are still wearing bell bottoms. Groovy.

There are over 25 missions to drive through as an automercenary. You can shoot with handguns from your car, drive off the road and blaze trails, loose tires and parts of the car body, flip over, play dhicken with a semi, and a large number of other actions. You have a wing person and mentor, Jade’s former partner, named Taurus who will help you with your missions. The game is just like a flight simulator or robot war simulator (Mechwarrior - Ed.) that the game is based upon.

There are over 20 computer generated hand-drawn cut scenes that are cubist based with big bold colors and polygons moving throughout the scenes. No attempt is made to make the polygon animation more life-like in fact the polygons seem to be exaggerated in size and blockyness. Now normally that blocky feel is bad, but here Activision has show ingenuity in using a basic disadvantage as an advantage in creating artsy and attractive animations with a definite style that is right out of the ‘70s era. bridge1.jpg - 2.7 K

The year is 1976, and the location is the United States during an alternate time line where the United States has given into anarchy, something like Mad Max in the ‘70s. Your mission is to prevent the destruction of a large oil reserve in the United States by a group of mercenaries working for a terrorist environmental group, who hate apple pie, hot dogs, and baseball, and deserve to die horribly at your hands. What the heck it is a lot of fun out there.

Graphics: The graphics will be similar to Mechwarrior 2 with the texture mapping and gauraud shading. The game will look best when played with high resolution, textures, smoke, and ricochet effects on.

Animations: Smooth, unjerky animation frame rate will only be achieved on the highest speed peniums, when all graphic options are turned on.

Voice actors: Cool and hip ling from the swinging 70's. Man you will dig it.

Music score: The music is funky ‘70s beat that blasts out of the car 8-track(a high tech data handler indigenous to the time period. - Ed.). Jason Slater, Interstate '76 Music Producer, described the music: "we're just trying to recreate what Rick James was doing in the '70s & '80s, and we are not talking about the music . . . man." The music is based on horns, percussion and guitars. The band took the name Bullmark for the gig and used all period instruments, foot pedals, and amplification to get the desired sound.

Sound effects:

Future plans:

Multi-player options include missions for up to eight players, including free-for-alls (FFA), and cooperative missions where one group defends an object while an other group destroys it. Modem play head to head via null or phone modem will still be possible. Why there is no two player mode to play through the plot of the game with friends I will never know.

Cheats, Hints and Walkthroughs: Interstate 76 Cheat Codes

Interstate 76 will have multiplayer support. Activision calls the multiplayer games "Multi Melees." You select your chassis and equip it and when the game starts, scoring is higher for those who score kills with less powerful weapons. Activsion hopes that the multiplayer Interstate 76 will surpass the fun that many still have playing NetMech.

Journalists: Elliott makes the connection between Interstate 76 and Starsky and Hutch.

Reader or Journalist, you can publish your review right here by sending us the text by email.

Reviews references:
Christine Grech Wendin, PC Games, volume 3, number 8, August, 1996, pg. 35.
Steve Klett, PC Games, volume 3, number 9, September, 1996, pg. 58-59.
John Patterson, Computer Player, volume 3, number 4, September, 1996, pg. 16.
Elliott Chin, Computer Gaming World, issue 153, April, 1997, pg. 46.
Steve Wartofsky, Computer Games,

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