Stunt Driver. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Wayne Kawamoto
After my daily commute on South ern California's congested freeways, a driving game should be the last thing I would want to play on my computer. But that was before I discovered Stunt Driver Spectrum HoloByte's terrific simulator.
This game goes beyond the typical car-racing simulation by offering tracks loaded with radical obstacles. Your car loops, jumps, corkscrews, and banks to the finish line. This roller-coaster race has more twists and turns than a contortionists' convention.
You drive a classic 1966 Shelby Mustang, a heavy-muscle car born to be driven. With Stunt Driver's five assorted tracks, three brutal opponents, and an editor to create your own courses, if you haven't driven a Ford lately, you'll have a formidable challenge ahead of you.
The first thing you'll notice about the game is the outstanding graphics. Representing the latest generation of graphics for home-computer games, Stunt Driver features a 256-color VGA mode that's stunning. The 16-color VGA and EGA are also well done. The background mountains look like mountains, not like a series of green triangles.
As you drive, you can try to take in the excellent scenery. You can choose backdrops that look like a forest, Tokyo (watch for Godzilla), London, San Francisco, and others. Even when you create your own tracks, the program automatically puts in the backdrops.
As in a flight simulator, you can watch your progress from a front, side, or back view. My favorite view is from an imaginary helicopter that follows the car.
You can replay your driving performance with a clever VCR mode. The best reviewer/camera I've seen in a game, it's literally like using a VCR. You can scan fast-forward through the race to reach the scenes you want to see, play back scenes frame by frame, and amazingly, switch between the views.
When I overshot a j ump or fell off the loops, the car flew into the air and realistically tumbled bumper over bumper on the ground. Then I enjoyed reviewing my crashes-frame by frame-from the helicopter view.
Another nice touch is the ability to race another player head to head by modem. The program also supports the Ad Lib sound board for great audio effects.
The driving is very challenging--in fact, this is the toughest driving simulation I've played. It's easy to overshoot the turns, and it can be hard to get going in the right direction again. Fortunately, the game provides arrows to point you to the right path.
The package says that a joystick is optional. In fact, the game designers specifically recommend that you use the keyboard, and that's what I preferred.
The installation was straightforward, and the game was, overall, easy to learn. It's the driving skills that take some practice to master.
This was the most fun I've had with any driving simulator. The jumps and loops add an exciting twist to the racing-game genre. I'm just glad I didn't have to learn to drive on this challenging race course in real life. I can imagine my frazzled parents yelling at me, "Hey! Look out for that loop!"
Stunt Driver is an exhilarating simulation that lets you forget about real driving issues, such as gas prices and car insurance premiums. Maybe it's the contrast to real driving that makes this game such a fun escape from reality. It's definitely not just another day at the races, and it's certainly not Driving Miss Daisy. I recommned Stunt Driver. It's is a riproaring, drive-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thrill ride.