If you combine The Fast and the Furious with Unreal Tournament then you end up with the game we have on review today – Death Track Resurrection. A weird hybrid of a combat/racing game that is actually based on a 1989 Activision game called Deathtrack. Russian developer, Sky Fallen handle the coding but unfortunately there are more than a few issues.
The game is set in a future which is comprised of a bunch of weird blokes in skimpy futuristic outfits, a little like a mixture of Mel Gibson’s Mad Max and a Backstreet Boys pop video. Death Track Resurrection is all based around a massively popular gladiatorial racing circuit which takes place in the major cities of the world. These major cities, such as London, Toyko, San Diego all were the victims of a war which turned them into great racing venues (!?). We could blame the Russian developer for coming up with such a ludicrous storyline, however considering this has been lifted from the original game we can only assume that someone had overdosed a few decades ago on M&M’s.
Sky Fallen present the game in a very unusual way which I am guessing is due to the Russian culture and some poor translation to the rest of the world. We see a slender Russian woman, dressed in some futuristic (and silly) clothes and she serves as a news presenter. Her voice however has been poorly dubbed from the Russian original and her mouth flaps dramatically out of sync with the words. The CG cutscenes are equally bizarre and they show a huge mob boss organising various ‘accidents’ which happen to various drivers on the circuits. Most of these accidents are absurd but it fits in perfectly with the rest of the game and although this is a future which makes no sense you will assuredly be laughing at some of the concepts.
If you can overlook the mad narration and plot, you get into the single player racing with various modes. There is no multiplayer aspect to the game so you are limited to race solely against the computer. There are a number of race types, such as scenario (which is story based) and drag race. As well as this there are several racing modes at hand. The modern race lets you and your opponents respawn back into the action if you get knocked out. The classic race does not let you reappear so you start with a large assortment of racers and watch the numbers dwindle as they get eliminated. A rally mode removes all weapons from the game and lastly there is a custom mode which means you can tweak the various settings to your desires.
Thankfully the basic mechanics are quite solid. The controls work well and are responsive and you race around some huge maps that are littered with challenges and obstacles as well as a variety of power ups. Imagine Mario Kart set in a futuristic world with him wearing a costume out of a Village People video and you get the idea. Unfortunately unlike Mario Kart the game mechanic hasn’t been fine tuned and the game ends up a chaotic shambles with many of the races seemingly won on pure luck rather than skill.
While you race, you get shot, you try to defend and fire back while dodging mines and avoiding getting sideswiped from the opponents. On some of the tracks they add in robots to ‘spice it up’. This means if you are at the front that your rear is exposed to the whole field and you are lucky to stay alive for more than a few seconds as every weapon in the game will be targeted at you. Combine this frustrating design with the fact that cars sometimes will magically respawn in front of you meaning you smash into them, lose control and hit a wall.
If the car reaches zero health it blows up. This happens on a regular basis especially if you are good enough to sit at the front of the pack. You then respawn a few seconds later and fight to get back into the front of the racing group. Rinse, repeat.
Equally frustrating, the game design means that even if you are the best driver in the world that you can’t separate yourself from the front as the balancing will come into play to speed the rest up.
Later, the pack dwindles as the mob boss starts killing drivers with his orchestrated accidents and the side effect of this is that later races are easier as you have less weaponry to deal with. It also helps if you stuck through the earlier sections of the game because by now you will have an upgraded car with better weapons, armor and engines. The upgrade system incidentally will be familiar to anyone who has played one of these kind of games before so there is nothing weird to report here. You get cash to upgrade the car, spend it … viola.
The graphics are acceptable but a bit shoddy in parts … the game is well coloured with reasonably detailed environments. The cars however seem to be floating over the ground surface which leads to a very unrealistic handling mechanic. The framerate thankfully doesn’t suffer from many issues and anyone with a semi powerful modern gaming computer shouldn’t run into any issues, even at high resolutions.
The audio is quite impressive with a metal soundtrack setting the mood for high octane action and the race commentator sounds like he is the brother of the guy from Unreal Tournament. Extremely over the top and very dramatic! The bot drivers even have their own voices and they will frequently shout insults to get you annoyed (yawns, yeah). Surprisingly however, the engine noises could do with a higher volume in the overall mix.
Death Track Resurrection could have been a much better game if the random and insanely annoying death and respawning elements had been refined during the game testing phases of development. The action is intense and many people will find positive things to take away from the game. This one is going to be down to personal taste and the desire to ride through the earlier levels until the pack dwindles and the car improves enough to be competitive. If I didn’t have to review the game I wouldn’t have stuck with it that long however so my recommendation is only to specific fans of the series and those people with the patience of a saint. Count me out.
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