Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Road Hunter GT

I looked up the definition of GT, or "Grand Tourer" ("Gran Turismo" in Italian) because something about its use in the title of Road Hunter GT just didn't sit right with me. So here's what I found, courtesy of Wikipedia:

GT - "Grand tourer (Italian: gran turismo), usually a high-performance luxury automobile designed for long-distance driving"

And that's probably what it was; though you do indeed drive long distances in this game, there's nothing luxurious or high-performance about it.

The plot is simple: you're about to carry out a bank job, after which you must weave through traffic while avoiding the police and the Mafia. You begin by stealing a taxi and driving it 150 miles to the bank.

Seriously, 150 miles. You are robbing a bank in another city - in another part of the country! I'm willing to suspend my disbelief up to a point, but that point comes long before driving a stolen taxi 150 miles on the straightest road this side of the autobahn to rob a small-town bank.

You drive your stolen taxi incredibly slowly through some very uninspired quasi-suburban landscape that seems to stretch into infinity. There are puddles and cracks all over the tarmac, but these are entirely aesthetic and have no effect on the handling of your car. For some reason just driving to the bank earns you cash, like perhaps you decided to pick up some fares as you went to commit acts of grand larceny. One thing you'll no doubt notice is that your life bar is constantly decreasing, so you need to keep topping it up by collecting hearts that lay across the road like the aftermath of some terrible accident involving a sixteen-wheeler with a load of donated organs.

At first I thought the life bar was actually supposed to be a petrol gauge, which would make sense - if you're driving 150 miles, you're going to need to fill the tank at least once. But if that's the case, why not just call it the fuel gauge? Why not use little canisters of petrol rather than hearts? The answer is because it really is supposed to be a life gauge, and much like the human body this taxi is hurtling inexorably towards the end, constantly postponing the inevitable with tune-ups and stolen organs.

It is, in all honesty, bullshit. Why should the life bar go down when you're avoiding the other cars? Why should a player be punished for doing well? And you better hope to God that you don't crash, because if you hit more than one other vehicle you'll never see past the first level. So you do what anyone would do in real life to avoid an accident - you drive slowly and keep as much of the road in front of you so you don't get caught off guard. The result is a slow, ponderous game, and it doesn't get any better after you've reached the bank.

After stealing the money (a scene represented by your character walking into the bank and then walking out of the bank) our young robber ditches the taxi and jumps into a sports car that I can only assume was sitting there waiting for him.

OK, so if there was a car there already, why steal the taxi? I mean, is this guy such a prick that he can't just spend a little cash on a train ticket, or something? Or better yet, if he's already been there to arrange the sports car, why not just stay there instead of travelling 150 miles to some other town? This probably explains why he works alone - not because he's a tough loner incapable of trusting others, but because none of the other robbers are willing to put up with his stupid ass.

So now the Mafia are after you, for reasons that are never fully explained, and they're chasing you in cars armed with ballistic missiles. Strangely, the numerous police cars that you pass on this endless highway show not one ounce of interest in the Mad Max road war taking place before them. I know the police can be apathetic at the best of times, but surely they're going to respond to the cluster bombs pockmarking the highway?

Fortunately you're not just a sitting duck. Someone was kind enough to leave missiles all over the road, which you can pick up and use against the numerous Mafiosi. But you can only shoot in one direction, straight up, and that's a real pain in the ass if the enemy is on the other side of the screen. At moments like that your only hope is to drive by as quickly as possible and hope you don't get hit. You don't find any other weapons that might make destroying the other cars easier, so it's a case of hoping for the best, and that rarely gets you anywhere.

For a game boasting only three levels Road Hunter GT is surprisingly difficult to beat. Like anything else it just takes a little practice, but why would you want to spend your time beating a game so ugly and plodding? There are a hundred games just like it, and most of them are far superior to this. Throw this one on the scrapheap and forget it even existed.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Iver read several of your posts and your really funny, keep up the great work