Street Rod 2. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Len Poggiali
Do you want to be King of the Road without spending the big bucks for a top-quality racer? Do you lack the smarts to build a monster machine from scratch or the guts to push the pedal to the floor? If so, then Street Rod 2 might be just your ticket.
You'll begin by selecting your first set of wheels and spare parts from the want ads. Even though there are 25 autos and 60 parts to choose from, with only $1,200 to spend, a Ford Fairlane and a few new tires are about all you'll be able to afford.
Next it's into the garage, where you can perform cosmetic surgery by spray-painting your monster, chopping its roof, and removing the bumpers. To improve your chances against the competition, pop the hood and tune your engine or bolt on a new part. With Street Rod 2, you can even roll under the body and do some serious work, adding differentials, mufflers, and exhaust manifolds. Eventually, substitute a top-performance manual transmission for that easy-to-shift, but decidedly inferior, automatic.
When you arrive at the local drive-in, sit tight until a beatable car cruises by. Then challenge the driver (male or female) to a drag race on a mile-long straight track or to a road race on either of two 2 1/2-mile courses.
If you're not off the line fast enough on the drag strip, you'll eat mouthfuls of your opponent's dust. If you jump off too quickly, you'll blow your engine and yourself right out of the competition.
On the road, controlling your speed on turns and sensing when to brake and downshift are essential for victory and for continued good health. Be warned: Cops are everywhere, ready to ticket you if you can't outrun them.
A ruined engine, a dropped transmission, and other damages can be repaired - if you have the cash. At other times, you might want to write your heap off as a loss and junk it for a few bucks.
Three months is all the time you'll have to go from rank amateur status to being an opponent worthy of the King of Street Racing. Winning lots of races and regularly upgrading your vehicles with your earnings are the keys to victory. Don't expect to complete the program in one sitting; the save-game option comes in handy.
Though enjoyable and exciting, the racing sequences add little new to the genre in terms of action or challenges. Whether using a mouse, joystick, or keyboard, you'll experience more than your share of killer crashes before you begin to master the controls. The garage segment is more original, and, thanks to a responsive point-and-click interface, easier to handle. In all locations the graphics, animation, and sound are excellent.
If you fantasize about the ultimate machine but you drive a ho-hum buggy, consider taking to the road with Street Rod 2. It won't make you think your Chevette is a Corvette, but it'll let you experience the sensation of driving a superfast monster car - without the danger and at a fraction of the cost.