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LGR – Re-Volt – PC Game Review

September 23, 2019


[typing] I have a strange affinity for
things that are miniaturized. I always have. Figurines and model cars are a natural progression of this strange affinity, as is the desire to view
things from their perspective. That’s also one reason I love video games. They can allow me to play from the
perspective of something smaller than life. So when I first saw Acclaim’s Re-Volt for the PC back in 1999, I was instantly hooked. I’ve always loved radio-controlled cars and I always wondered what it would be like to view the world from their perspective. And Re-Volt lets me do just that. It also lets you blow up your opponents and
pull off ridiculous stunts while you’re at it. Heh heh. “Get ready to cause some seriously major mayhem” “with a seriously small car!” “Scale speeds in excess of 350 MPH!” And here’s a selling point you rarely see today: “Enhanced for PC:” “Superior graphics, modifiable skins” “and our dynamic website.” Ah, the turn of the millennium. When a 16 MB video card could play anything out there and look a hundred times better than the consoles. Aw, I shed a geeky tear for you, good old days. This isn’t the only version of the game, though. Re-Volt also saw releases on the Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation and the Sega Dreamcast. Each of these are essentially the same game, but there are some differences. I’ll be focusing on the PC version
here for most of this review, but I will return to these ports later on. Inside the PC version’s box, you get a CD with some jewel case art, and an instruction booklet. The booklet covers the instructions, the basics of gameplay, and gives a short overview of some of the unlockables, but it is by no means all-encompassing. It does, however, include a bizarre
and unimportant backstory about the Toy-Volt company producing sentient R/C vehicles that are now roaming freely around the world. Uhhh, sounds like a bad Stephen King short story designed for the Sci-Fi Channel. So if you’re like me, you can
just ignore this cheesy premise. The game was designed for
Windows 95 and 98 in mind, and while it has some issues
with newer versions of Windows, it’s still pretty easy to get it working. All you really need is the 1207 patch
and a couple of executable tweaks, and it will mostly work. Or you could just use one of the
excellent launchers for the game, like PhoenixR3 or WolfR4. I really recommend using
these for any system at all, because they not only fix
potential compatibility issues, but they also take care of a ton of bugs, and even enabled new features
like fully-customizable tracks. Start the game up and you’ll be
greeted with the 3D animated menu and the most awesome soundtrack. [dance music] Man, that song will never leave my mind. I swear, it’s gonna be what I’m
hearing in my head as I die one day. The soundtrack to this game is
definitely one of the highlights of it, at least if you enjoy house,
techno, and Goa trance. Here we have a menu for starting a new game, viewing records, changing the options, and even creating your own track. I was always impressed with
the actual options menu myself for its sheer awesomeness. You get all the stuff you’d expect, but in the graphics area, you can
actually change a lot of cool stuff, and actually see the changes you make on the fly. So you’re not left guessing as
to how things will look in-game. Although it’s always annoyed me that the anti-
aliasing has never seemed to work, but whatever. Starting a race gives you six choices. Single Race, where you race a… single race. Championship, where you race a series of races to earn trophies and unlock new crap. Multiplayer, which is… Time Trial, where you race against time… Practice, where you… SOULFUL VOICE:
Practice Mode… LGR:
And Stunt Arena, which is a unique track
designed with stunts in mind. You then get to choose
from four difficulty modes, which affect the speed,
handling and collision models. Next you input your name for record keeping, by using this awesome wheel thing, or just typing it in. It’s also where you enter cheat
codes for the game if you want to, like unlocking extra cars,
tracks and a shrunken car mode, and even a developer’s panel. Then it’s time to choose
your car from a list of 28. And this is extremely important to your enjoyment of the game. Each car is unique, not only in look but their various traits. You’ve got electric, glow and special classes, rookie, amateur, advanced, semi-pro and pro ratings, speed, acceleration and weight stats, and front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive,
and 4-wheel drive transmissions. Each of these are going to determine
how well you’ll do in a certain race, and you unlock more the better you perform, so you’ll really want to mess around
with each of them to find your groove. Finally, there are 13 tracks to
choose from once they’re all unlocked, and each of them contain unique elements based on real-world locations. They each also have a reverse mirror
and inverse variation to choose from, so you artificially even have more tracks than this. Once it loads the track, the camera pans to the back of your car, the countdown counts down, and the race is on! The controls are pretty straightforward. You have typical driving
controls for the most part, but you also have a
button for firing weapons, a button for flipping your
car if it’s upside-down, and a button for reseting
your position completely. The gameplay is very fast-paced, as you’d expect from a game
based on R/C car racing. Depending on the car you choose,
the controls may feel a bit stiff, or twitchy, or even straight-up loose, but remember you’re dealing with
pretty realistic R/C car physics. It’s all about controlling your speed and knowing how fast you
can turn without spinning out. A steering wheel can really help out here, but I usually do well enough with
a keyboard or a digital controller. Obviously, the goal is to
cross the finish line first, but one of the biggest key features is vehicular combat. All around the level, you’ll see
these respawning lightning bolts. Run your car through any one of them and you’ll get a Mario Kart-style
randomized weapon selection. You can either save it for
whenever you want to use it, or use it up right now and try
your luck on the next pickup. And just like Mario Kart,
proper usage of these things can either make or break a race at any time, so a bit of strategy is definitely involved when picking your racing line. There are ten different weapon
pickups you’ll end up with. The first is the firework. This is a single bottle rocket that
locks onto a nearby opponent and continues on it chaotic
way until it hits an opponent, hits a wall or runs out of juice. You can also get a pack of fireworks, which is the same thing,
only you get three of them at once. Another three-pack weapon
is the water balloon. These are similar in effect to the fireworks, except they don’t lock on
or fly all over the place. Next is the oil slick, which is just as it sounds. Oil slicks from your arse. You also have the ball bearing, or as I always called it, the bowling ball. This is a friggin’ huge heavy ball that trips up anything in its path. Next is one of the most powerful power-ups: the shockwave. This is kind of like ball lightning that
shoots directly out in front of you, sending your opponents flying out of the way. Speaking of lightning,
there’s also the electric pulse, which is a temporary electric current that zaps any opponents that get close to you, disabling their car for a few seconds. Another power-up is the turbo battery, which increases your top
speed by 10% until it runs out. One of the most devious weapons is the bomb. The bomb… It IS the bomb. The bomb is unique in that it actually turns your car into a bomb, and your antenna into a fuse. What you wanna do is touch an opponent
with your car before the fuse runs out to pass the bomb onto them. Once that fuse runs out,
whoever is left with the bomb last gets blown up. [explosion] Another evil pickup is the clone pickup. This drops a lightning bolt behind you that looks exactly like the other pickups, except this one will blow up
anyone that runs into it. And finally, we have the most powerful of all, the star pulse. When activated, this star will temporarily
disable every one of your opponents, making it incredibly useful for
catching up to the competition. None of these will completely
destroy your opponents or you, but it sure as heck does piss everyone off, especially in multiplayer. Besides the weapons, the other big stars
of the game are the tracks themselves. Each one is full of twists and turns that will challenge even
the most experienced racer, as well as environmental
hazards and multiple racing lines, to keep things interesting each time you play. Each one of these tracks has
a genuine personality about it, from the set pieces to the sound effects that really makes them a joy to race through, even all these years later. I can’t tell you how many times
I’ve wanted to take an R/C car into a grocery store or a museum, and Re-Volt fulfills that fantasy with ease. Not only that, but the
graphics are simply awesome. Back in 1999, this was one of the
best-looking racers I’d ever seen. Frick, it was one of the
best-looking games, period. Nice textures, bright colors, little details like lasting skid marks,
weapon effects and explosion decals just made for an exceptional-looking game. And thanks to it’s slightly
cartoony, stylized aesthetic, I think it’s held up rather well, unlike many other racers of the time period. Of course, just regular single
races are only the beginning. There is also the multiplayer aspect, which is basically the same as
single races for the most part, except you’re racing against live opponents. There is also an exclusive
mode called Battle Tag where you’re just trying to stay alive for two minutes while your
opponents try to tag you. While multiplayer is super-
simple to set up over a LAN, it’s kind of a pain to get
going online nowadays. Thankfully, there are still communities
of online Re-Volt players out there, like the RV House users, so you can try and join them
through something like that. You also have single-player
championships to play through, which are restricted to certain
car classes and track sets. The goal here is to come in first place overall, as judged by a points system. Reach the end of the championship
by gaining the most points and you’ll win a bouncing car animation, as well as some new cars and tracks to play with. And then you have Practice and Stunt Arena, which are tracks free of normal restrictions, where the goal here is to collect stars. Practice is just practicing on the stock tracks without any fear of losing. And Stunt Arena is a unique, wide-open area, full of loops, jumps and half-pipes. This is one of those that is incredibly
dependent on the car you choose, since many of the stars are totally out of reach except to only a few cars. If you happen to grab all 20 stars, you can unlock a new game mode, Clockwork Carnage. This is like single-player, except you now have 30 cars in a race, and they’re all tiny windup cars. It’s just silly fun, and it’s not something I play
very often, but whatever. It’s something new after
you’ve exhausted the other modes. The other big part of Re-Volt is the track editor. This is a very simple tool that allows you to make some very
simple linear tracks to race around on. To be honest, it leaves a lot
to be desired in its vanilla form. I mean, sure, it works well enough, and on the consoles, I can see it
being a little bit more of a novelty, but on the PC, you just know
there could have been so much more. Thankfully, there are some ways
to make even more detailed tracks, and even new track types entirely, so just look online for information on that. In fact, look online about the
entire rest of the Re-Volt community, because it’s significant and it’s
actually still going to this day. There are a ton of fan-made
mods, additional cars and tracks for the PC version of the game, and even unofficial patches to
add new features and fix old bugs. So the last thing to touch on is the console ports. Alright, so let’s look at the order
in which they were released, starting with the PS1. This is easily the worst version of the game, especially as far as graphics and physics go, which should be no huge surprise. The PlayStation was being pushed
beyond its limits here and you can tell. However, there are some unique features, like a new car selection menu, 17 extra cars, and two packs of tracks, made in the track editor by Acclaim, known as Lego tracks. Still, I’d only recommend
it if you’re a die-hard fan. Next is the Nintendo 64 port,
and it’s pretty sweet. In comparison to the PS1,
it features better graphics, better handling and physics, remixed music, an exclusive secret car, and another pack of Lego tracks. However, it still has some issues
with frame rate and draw distance, as well as some noticeably lower-quality sound to make it fit on a cartridge. Then there’s the glorious Dreamcast version, and this is easily the best of the console ports. It uses the same engine as the PC version, the graphics are spectacular,
the physics are great, and there’s a lot of re-skinned cars,
and two entirely new ones, and even a new track called Rooftops. It also has a four-player
split-screen multiplayer mode, which is nice, since there’s no online gaming. Also worth noting is a version for the original Xbox. This was never released and never left beta, so yeah, that’s that. Another one that WAS released
was an arcade version of the game. It came in a sit-down cabinet that was able to link up to other nearby machines and featured approximately the same gameplay as the PC game, from what I gather, although with the expected tweaks to
steal your quarters and make you swear. There were also two sorta, kinda, not really sequels, titled RC Revenge and RC Revenge Pro, on the PS1 and PS2. They’re okay for what they are, but they’re not really sequels to Re-Volt and I would just ignore them.
They’re kind of lame. But the original? No… I really don’t know what else to say. It is an incredible racing game that
I still enjoy a whole lot even to this day. I may not play it all the time or anything, but it does have that lasting appeal that for whatever reason
just hasn’t disappeared at all. All the versions are also
pretty easy to get a hold of. You’re not going to be paying a lot of money. And the PC versions will pretty much
work on any PC made after 1999. So to wrap things up, Re-Volt is ridiculously sweet. Grab it and enjoy it. That’s all I got. [techno music]

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