previews\ Sep 7, 2003 at 8:00 pm

RoadKill - XB - Preview 2

See Jane walking the streets of Lava Falls. See Jane pull out a gun and start blasting away at a passing car. The term "drive-by shooting" has just been redefined.

See said car pull a 180, and zoom back toward Jane, bumper-mounted machine guns roaring to life. See the car make a mess of Jane’s lifeless body. And now the term "roadkill" has taken on new life.

Roadkill, an Xbox release from Midway and Terminal Reality, is not for the faint of heart or for those who abhor extreme violence or foul language. This game has plenty of both wrapped around a progressive storyline of gang warfare in Hell County.

This is a post-apocalyptic world, devastated by a virus that has reduced the population to a fraction of what it once was. Martial law, declared as the virus spread unchecked, is completely gone and the cities and towns are controlled by gangs, constantly at war with each other.

Into this setting drives Mason Strong. If he has a moral conscience, it was claimed by the plague. His ultimate goal is to take revenge against his ex-partner, Axl. But in order to do that, he will have to work his way up through the ranks of the gangs of Hell County, create a reputation, develop a group of followers and survive the streets. The latter is not an easy thing to do - especially when a fire fight can break out at virtually any moment and either involve you or place you in the crossfire.

Nudge a car while driving the streets and that car may just turn on you and open up with machine guns. And their friends will soon show up for the fun. As you get tagged, your car (which gets progressively better in terms of look and deadliness as you collect salvage parts and power-ups while driving through the neighborhoods of the cities in the county) takes damage. Take too much damage and it’s game over. Drive off the edge of the mapboard and it is game over. Don’t worry though, these mapboards are big and there are any number of places you can get to which will lose any pursuit. You can even duck into your garage for repairs.

Mason begins his rise to power by working with Coach Knox, leader of the South League Gang. His big rival is Uncle Woody. But that is merely the introductory gangs. You’ll encounter a few others as your progress. Each gang is marked by "B" movie stereotypes that do give this game some flavor. You will begin with simple missions and as you prove your worth, the assignments become much deadlier. There are 30 main missions in this game.

The control elements of this game are very simplistic and players should have little trouble jumping in and going. The game also features multiplayer death-match modes of play, enabling you and your friends to drive and destroy each other with reckless abandon.

The cities are built for cars, there is little doubt of that. Ramps are located in parking garages, or at culverts enabling players to find non-linear escape or pursuit routes. Graphically this game is solid, and the driving mechanics are very good. Special effects are also well-rendered. While you can knock over a street-lamp or two, don’t expect the damage you incur to be permanent.

While the game is great to look at, the soundtrack features a mixture of over-the-top language and an amazing musical score. The language is intended to reflect the times and situations, and thus is filled is profanity-strewn. However the musical score is superb. The strains of Blue Oyster Cult’s "Don’t Fear the Reaper" underscore the intro, and you will be treated to rock classics from the likes of Judas Priest and April Wine, among others. There are six radio stations in all, and you will have the call-in chat, banal banter of lonely DJs, commercials and even a police channel. It is advised not to turn off or down the radio. You can receive some mission tips as well as being forewarned of those who may be out to hunt you (shades of Vanishing Point!).

Other game features include 40 different vehicle styles, a dynamic reputation system, hidden items that will enable you to unlock powerups.

Roadkill is blood-splattering, profanity strewn mayhem of the streets of a post-apocalyptic world. This is not a game for the sensitive-natured individuals, this is a game for mature players. Fans of games like Grand Theft Auto will certainly enjoy the challenges of this game. It is a fast-paced, open-ended game that evolves around the style each player brings to it. After all, it is your reputation on these hard streets that hangs in the balance.

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