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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Activision

Ups: Great soundtrack;   better levels; beats TW4.

Downs:  Too hard to unlock bonus cars; basically more of the same.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation


Dreamcast screens shown.

screen3-01.jpg (4513 bytes)What do you get when you combine horrific amounts of gunfire, imminent ecological disaster, a great soundtrack, and a horde of psychos engaged in car combat? You get Los Angels, but if you combine all of those with Activision and slap ‘em on a CD you get Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense, and that means extreme action. At least I think there’s an imminent threat of ecological disaster in 2nd Offense, something to do with oil, I think. The story’s not real clear on that point, but one things for sure: There’s other folks out there with combat-ready cars and they aren’t you, and that means they need blown the hell up.

screen4-01.jpg (5079 bytes)Veterans of the Vigalante 8 series will find things much as they left them in the first installment, with minor additions and improvements. The Coyotes are still trying to take over the world, and The Vigilantes are still trying to stop them, but this time a third gang, the Drifters, have jumped into the fray. The leader of the Coyotes came across a time travel machine at some point in the future and used it to travel to 1970 something, where he is launching an evil plot to bankrupt the United States. The best of the future verses the decade of disco, it sounds like a fixed fight, but you’d be surprised. If I had to pick one decade to save humanity, it wouldn’t have been the 70's. Then again, maybe that’s what the devious Lord Clyde had in mind. Hit them while they’re covered in floral prints and polyester, they won’t stand a chance .

screen5-01.jpg (3869 bytes)The 70's theme works really well and gives the game an atmosphere that is fun, funny, and makes a refreshing change of scene. Most notable of these of these is the absolutely superb sound track that offers a brilliant distinction from the sea of mediocrity and lack of vision that defines most video game soundtracks. The 2nd Offense soundtrack mimics a variety of popular 70's genres with clearly original works that are guaranteed to both make you laugh and inspire you to new heights of car demolishing prowess. The soundtrack is nothing short of a funkadelliac groove tune masterpiece that should serve as a blueprint for how to compose theme music.

screen6-01.jpg (4890 bytes)The graphics on 2nd offense have improved only slightly over the first installment. Things seem to run a little smoother and the special effects have been revved up to dazzle the eye just a little bit more. The levels are much more interactive now, which means you can blow pretty much everything up. Ultimately, however, 2nd Offense pretty much looks just like the original in the graphics department.

screen7-01.jpg (5565 bytes)Graphical stasis aside, 2nd Offense is a whole new game. Among the chief improvements is the level design. Gone are the days of dirt and pavement only, levels now contain a variety of different terrains including snow and water. To successfully navigate the new terrain you’ll have to find various vehicle upgrades such as snow tracks, water propellers, and hovercraft technology.

screen9-01.jpg (5084 bytes)The quest mode has also been made bigger and better, but not all the changes have been for the better. The different clans of cars have different agendas that have to be accomplished on each level in addition to waxing all of the enemies. The Vigilantes usually have to protect something, the Coyotes have to destroy something. In addition, each level contains objects such as bombs, briefcases full of cash, and boxes of supplies, that have to be successfully located and delivered somewhere to clear the level. This is by far the weakest aspect of the game for two reasons: First of all, the mission descriptions are far to vague to give you any real direction and this means you will wander from time to time trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing. Secondly, the locate and deliver missions are often tedious, especially on the later levels where you are forced to spend way too much time driving around looking for briefcases, time that could be better spent laying down the hurt on rival cars.

screen10-01.jpg (4869 bytes)There are nine cars initially playable, and six others that are hidden. Fifteen is a respectable number of cars, but the six hidden cars are hidden a bit too well. For example, in order to unlock the first hidden Drifter car you must first beat the quest mode with all three of the Drifter cars. To unlock the second car you then complete the game with the newly unlocked character. To unlock the first Coyote car the process starts all over again, so you must beat it with the three default cars and so on, meaning that you will have to beat the somewhat tedious quest mode a total of twelve times to get all of the characters. This will require a lot of time, and is needlessly slow, especially considering that a lot of fans will buy the game strictly for the multi-player game, and aren’t that interested in the quest mode.

Still, Vigilante 8 2nd Offense is a lot of fun and won’t disappoint fans of the car combat genre, as long as you’re looking for more of the same--only better. It you’re debating between Vigilante 8:2nd Offense and Twisted Metal 4, then the choice is clear, and Vigilante 8 gets the nod for it’s superior handling, cooler cars, upgrade features, and funky feel. It’s easily the best of the genre right now. Besides, if you missed the 70's like I did, then this is pretty much the next best thing, maybe better.

 --Jeff Luther