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X-Car: Experimental Racing

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:

GAME DEVELOPER:Bethesda Softworks

GAME PUBLISHER:Bethesda Softworks

Copyright 1997, Bethesda Softworks

One of the most underrated racing games ever, X-Car: Experimental Racing is the perfect game for anyone who likes tinkering with cars, although arcade gamers will be disappointed. As the name implies, X-Car is an experimental race car: you can customize most, if not all, aspects of the car to your heart?s content. Different tracks require different tweaks to produce the ultimate racing machine?if you are not willing to get ?under the hood,? chances are you will not finish the game or even like it.

XCar supports several types of gameplay: Preseason, Single Track, Circuit, and Multiplayer. Preseason is more like practice for testing car modifications or getting used to the game. Single Track allows you to run up to two practice runs, a qualifying run, and the actual race. The Circuit is 16 single tracks strung together, kind of like a season. Multiplayer is supported by modem or IPX networks and allows you to race against human opponents. 10 tracks are provided out-of-the-box, and it is unfortunate that the touted expansion pack never came out. There are even different test tracks to test different aspects of a car?s performance.

XNgine, the graphics and physics engine behind the game, is pretty solid and adequately realistic. Bethesda?s proprietary 3D engine has come a long way since the days of The Terminator, Arena , to SkyNet and beyond. The non- accelerated graphics are pretty good, and the game offers 3Dfx support (although this probably will not work with modern 3D cards). The physics engine is solid, and the harder maps are designed to reflect how much thought has gone into it: they are designed with lots of turns, which require a lot of breaking and gear shifting. XNgine deals with breaking, sliding, and turning fairly well. Modifications to your car?s design are definitely noticeable while racing.

X-Car allows you to change options for nearly every aspect of gameplay. You can select arcade or realistic mode, set the race length, toggle variable weather conditions on and off, adjust the effects of damage to your car, and set the number of opponents you face and their skill level. You can also enable or disable certain “help” features like spin help, auto-shifting, auto-breaking, and steering help.

X-Car is by all means not an easy game. Even in Arcade mode and lowest skill levels, computer drivers are extremely good at braking, cornering, and accelerating?better than if you turn all the help options on. You also need to modify the car before every race to win; this is because most of the cars provided in the game are roughly the same in their default setup. To get an edge over your opponents, you need to modify your car for the track. These modifications usually relate to breaking, cornering, and acceleration. After modifying the car, you can test it on the test tracks to examine different aspects of your car?s design. Although you are allowed to modify your car during practice runs, you can no longer make modifications once you qualify, until after the race is done.

The game also includes options common to the genre, including a variety of camera angles, multiplayer options, and joystick and wheel support. With excellent attention to detail and virtually infinite customizability options, X-Car is well worth a look by die-hard fans of realistic racing games and geeks everywhere ;) Recommended!



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