by Al Giovetti
Price: $50
Genre: futuristic racing arcade
Release: January 9, 1997, with the MMX chip
Developer:UBI Soft Entertainment
Publisher: UBI Soft
Phone: 415/547-4000 or 800/UBI-SOFT
Website: http://www.ubisoft.com
Requirements: Pentium, 120 MHz, MMX technology, Windows 95, 4X CD ROM drive, SVGA video, 16 mb ram, 20 mb hard disk space

Company line: POD(TM), the sci-fi racing game for PC CD-ROM from Ubi Soft Entertainment, incorporates Intel's ground breaking new MMX(TM) technology setting a new standard for speed and responsiveness, while revolutionizing on-line multi-player gaming possibilities.

POD is one of the first games developed with the new Intel technology. One key benefit of the MMX(TM) technology is the ability to eliminate system sluggishness when a multitude of variables are on screen, offering faster game action than ever before possible. podshot1.gif - 10.4 K

The use of MMX(TM) technology also allows the game's real-time, 3D-generated images to achieve unparalleled acceleration in graphics, video, picture processing and sound. The results include skid marks that remain on the road, clouds that cast shadows on the ground and "smoking" tires from skids and fast turns. The skies change according to the weather and time of day, and the environments, vehicles and buildings all look other-worldly and ominous.

"We are very impressed by the work Ubi Soft has done with POD. It is the first PC racing game that we know of specifically designed to take advantage of Intel's MMX(TM) Technology," said R. Victor Varney, marketing manager for the Developer Relations Group, Intel Corp. "The highly realistic imagery - including lighting and shadowing effects, rich textures, deep perspective and high resolution - delivered at very high frame rates makes this a great game and an excellent example of how exciting software will be on PCS with the Pentium(R) Processor with MMX technology."

"POD offers an excellent example of how game players benefit from Intel's MMX(TM) Technology," said Claude Leglise, vice president, Content Group, Intel Corp. "The speed, high frame rate, realistic lighting and shadowing and high-frequency music make for a thrilling race."

POD will be bundled with the first processor to incorporate Intel's new MMX(TM) technology, the Pentium(R) processor with MMX(TM) technology, which will be introduced by Intel on January 8, 1997 in San Francisco. After April 1, 1997, POD will also be available for Pentium(R) processors available at retail stores worldwide. podshot2.gif - 10.8 K

History: UBI Soft has been producing ground breaking games for years including Bureau of Astral Trouble Shooters (BAT) released back in the dark ages of gaming, way back in 1991 (see review by Al Giovetti -Ed.), Unreal, and lately the Rayman. UBI Soft's reputation for excellence and their new partnering with Intel means this may be a game to watch.

POD was the first MMX product that was packaged with the MMX chip. To bad Windows 95 version OSR2 wasn't packaged with the MMX instead. (Only Windows 95 OSR2 is designed to work with MMX, if you try to keep you old operating system, your computer gets all messed up.)

Ubi Soft Entertainment, a $50 million European-based software publishing and distribution power was founded in 1986 in France. Ubi Soft entered the software development arena in 1991 after its continued success in software distribution, representing 35% of all entertainment software to the French market. In addition to its U.S. offices in California and its headquarters in France, Ubi Soft has offices in Japan, Germany, Spain, Italy, England and China.

Plot: Set on a futuristic planet where a cancerous green fungus called POD is rapidly destroying everything in its path, the game thrusts players into a fierce contest to determine who will escape before the planet explodes.

Game play: POD is a racing game where you race around the track in prebuilt or custom designed cars. Yes you get to design your own cars.

Artificial intelligence: Drivers playing against the computer will face a programmed artificial intelligence that allows the other cars to adapt to an individual player's style, strengths and weaknesses.

Tracks: The game features 16 regular tracks and several hidden bonus tracks.

Difficulty matrix: There are three levels of difficulty. The settings of each of the eight vehicles in the game can be customized depending on the particular settings chosen, the computer will modify over 20 different technical parameters that will change the "feel" of the vehicle when players take the "wheel." These options range from speed, acceleration, brakes, handling and grip.

Graphics: Playable at 640 x 480 resolution. The graphics are incredibly detailed with some very beautiful landscapes. podshot3.gif - 10.0 K

Animation: The animation reaches a speed of up to 32 frames per second. POD also includes an introductory full motion video sequence.

Voice actors:

Music score: The fifteen to twenty minute original music score is moody and quite good but repetitive and you will find yourself turning it off.

Sound effects:



Multi-player: POD is the first racing game ever to offer the option to link up to eight simultaneous players directly over the Internet, or Intranet. POD is the first game that allows players unique options for mixing and matching the way they link game play. Players have greater flexibility than any other game on the market with POD's following five multi-player gaming options: Up to eight player connection through a Local Area Network (LAN); over the Internet where the players call the IP number of a designated server; through a modem by having one computer call the modem number of another; through a cable link; or split-screen on the same computer. For example, two people on a LAN could play with two people over the Internet.

Using "pre-calculated position engineering," POD allows playability directly over the Internet without latency problems. POD's engine pre-determines the future location of the cars, resulting in smooth movements and the elimination of system jumping. This revolutionary engineering enables POD to be the first game that will be multi-player over the Internet for free.

Players in search of POD partners will be able to log on to Ubi Soft's web site (http://www.ubisoft.com) and contact other players who have expressed an interest in screaming around the POD tracks at intense speeds together. Over the Internet, players will also be able to download new tracks and vehicles as well as other players' best times and "ghosts." UBI Soft is making getting on the web easier for game players of POD.

Future plans:

POD Ubisoft Web Site
Al Giovetti, B.A.T., Bureau of Astral Troubleshooters, Current Notes, volume 11, number 10, December, 1991, pg. 38-39.
Al Giovetti, Bureau of Astral Troubleshooters: B. A. T., Questbusters, volume 8, number 6, June, 1991, pg. 6.
Paul Bannister, Computer and Net Player, volume 3, number 11, April, 1997, pg. 67, 80%.
George T. Chronis, PC Games, volume 4, number 4, April, 1997, pg. 80, 85%.