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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Domark Software
In Domark's Big Red Racing, you take control of one of a variety of vehicles - they range from monster trucks to moon buggies to helicopters or even rafts. You'll race on tracks from all over the world - like England, Kenya, Russia, and Japan - and even some places out of this world - like Venus and Mars and the Moon. As Aric says, "These tracks aren't normal." In Big Red Racing, courses full of jumps and ramps and obstacles await you. In Russia, you'll skid across the ice and zoom over Lenin's Leap; in Kenya, you'll blast through native villages.

I'm Rick. In this review, my seven-year-old son Aric and I will discuss our favorite and not so favorite things about one of the games we play most. .

Rick: So, Aric, what did you like best about Big Red Racing?

Aric: I like the crashing and that you can take shortcuts all around the course. You don't have to stay on the track. But if you don't, you'll always finish in sixth place.

Rick: Yeah, I like that too. You can adjust the amount of damage your rig will take before going up in flames. The result being, Big Red Racing is a great game for Demoliton Derby type racing. (In fact, the gang at Games First! just had an all-night network party, and Big Red was the big favorite - especially when we got six players networked into a demolition derby.) By the way, if you take a shortcut on some of the tracks, you might come across something hilarious - like a sheep jump in Scotland or the monolith from 2001 on the moon. This is pretty much characteristic of the game - it's no frills, sure, but everything in it is designed to produce maximum fun.

Aric: I really like the variety of terrain - you can go up into mountains and across snow and on the water. I like the jumps a lot, too. I like that you can pick what car you get to race in too, and picking your character and your car color and your logo - like my favorite, the dragon head.

Rick: Yeah, on each race you'll get a choice of two vehicles - and there's almost always a tradeoff involved in this choice. One vehicle might be very fast but lousy at handling while another might be very tough (a very important attribute on some of the nastier tracks) but not very much of anything else. Much of your choice will depend upon your own driving style or strategy, and this, along with the customized vehicles (I like to do mine in Partridge Family purple with a big psychedelic flower on the side) gives the game a nice personal touch.

Aric: I liked that the game was very easy to learn and control. It's kind of like Monster Truck Madness, only better. It has cool rock n' roll music too.

Rick: Yep, this is a game that is exceptionally easy to learn to play. It's like the opposite of Mechwarrior as far as that's concerned; you really just need to use the arrow keys and your nitro button. It's a refreshing change; sort of a reminder of how much fun you can have with just four keys. The sound track is lively, too - and sometimes a little bawdy, but nothing to worry you.

Aric: Here's what I didn't like too much about the game. The graphics, especially of the people, are not very good. Some of the races, even though it says medium, they can be very hard and you can crash and burn on your first lap. The helicopters are OK, but hard to control.

Rick: I agree with all of that. Part of this game's charm is its very spare graphics. But a little charm can go a long way. I mean, they're not awful, like someone tried to do something ambitious and just screwed up (see Strife). They're just not the selling point of this game. The bottom line here is fun, and if you'd rather look at a pretty screen than have a blast, this game's not for you. And Aric's right, some of the tracks can be darned difficult to negotiate - the computer can beat you with distressing ease on some of the medium tracks. On the up side, it's nice to play a networked game and watch your human opponents have as much trouble as you (well, almost as much). Finally, the helicopter problem. Nobody I know likes racing the choppers; they don't control very well and the flight model (I use the term very loosely) is very weak. I'd advise losing this in future versions of Big Red Racing and coming up with more cool land vehicles.

Aric: I think people should buy this game because it's really good for kids my age. It's really rock n' roll and you can crash a lot before your car blows up, so you get to race a lot. It's really fun-filled.

Rick: Well, it's good fun for kids my age, too (ed. note: so, just how old is that, Rick?); it's entertaining to race against the computer or head to head, but it's a marvel when networked up. If you can deal with the less than state-of-the-art graphics, you can have a big time with Big Red.

--Rick Fehrenbacher