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Article #63 (79 is last):
From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: LYNX: BattleWheels
Reply-To: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Date: Thu Jul  8 00:05:45 1993

Review By: (Robert A. Jung)

  It's the most talked-about, most eagerly anticipated title in the history
of the Atari Lynx. And it's finally out! Now, we put it under the microscope
for a detailed analysis...

1-6 players, horizontal game
Beyond Games, for the Atari Lynx
Stereo? Yes

    Even before Mel Gibson slipped behind the wheel as Mad Max, the blend of
cars and weapons has always appealed to action fans who dream of combining
speed and power. The newest electronic incarnation of this genre is
BATTLEWHEELS, the first title by new Lynx developer Beyond Games. One to six
players drive armed cars, competing against computer drones and each other to
be the sole survivor. Most of the action takes place from a first-person
perspective, though you can change views, check vehicle damage, and locate
opponents on radar. A round ends when one driver remains, and the first player
to get a specified number of kills wins the game.

    Various options are available both before and during a fight. Selections
include seven levels of computer expertise, sixteen arenas, player colors and
images, while multiplayer games also allow team formation. You can use
pregenerated cars for quick playing, orbuild your own with rules for weight,
cost, and weapons placement. In the arena, weapons and tactics range from
paint sprayers and missile launchers to sideswipe and hit-and-run. You can
even leave your car and fight on foot, either to escape an explosion or pick
up prizes left behind.

    The basic premise of BATTLEWHEELS demands action, and the game delivers it
in spades. A typical round may last no more than five minutes, but each second
is filled with fast, frantic combat. There are few opportunities to rest, and
ensuring your survival is a full-time task. The computer is not an unbeatable
juggernaut who overwhelms the player; rather, drones operate on their own, and
will often attack each other as much as you. Beginners will naturally find the
game a bit confusing due to the numerous actions available, but can soon
overcome this with practice.

    Beyond Games recruited hundreds of playtesters, and it shows. Everything
about this game screams quality and care. Controls are responsive and natural,
allowing quick changes of weapons, views, and displays while fighting in the
heat of battle. The driver's view includes indicators for speed and heading,
ammunition remaining, armor and engine alerts, and direction of enemy attacks,
all without inducing clutter. The option selection and car building phases
are equally user-friendly, and handicapping is available to keep multiplayer
games balanced.

    BATTLEWHEELS can be played on many levels. The use of prepared cars allows
for quick games, while the custom mode allows more planning along with the
task of managing a budget. Options are significant, and winning tactics change
depending on the conditions chosen. Another appeal to the game is the level of
detail and realism present. For instance, you can't leave your car if the door
is blocked, but once outside, you can run, dive, shoot back, and commandeer
other cars. This level of depth permeates everything, and enhances the fun.

    The graphics on BATTLEWHEELS perfectly capture the spirit of the game. 
Images are drawn appropriately, mixing gritty views with clear and concise
displays. Sprites are distinctive and scaling is used extensively, though
things never become too blocky. Extra touches round out the visuals, such as
the drivers' assorted expressions and the garbage-pelting crowd at the end.

    While the sonds do not set any new trends on the Lynx, they are done well
and used appropriately. A few tunes play between duels, but the roar of the
engines and bursts of weapons fire sharply punctuate combat. Sounds and alerts
are unique, which helps attentive players to follow the action, and stereo is
used during the fights to convey the location of enemies.

    Beyond Games has hit the Lynx community in a big way, as BATTLEWHEELS is a
high-quality title that promises plenty and delivers it all. It is, quite
frankly, the best implementation of the "Car Wars" idea I've ever seen on any
computer or video game console. The design allows for fast play without
compromising complexity, and the graphics and sound effects are as hot as the
action. Whether solo or with friends, electronic road warriors should get this
explosive card immediately!

                GAMEPLAY:        9.5
                GRAPHICS:        9
                SOUND:           9
                OVERALL:         9.5

  Rating values  10 - 8   Great! This game can't get much better.
                  7 - 5   Good. Average game, could be improved.
                  4 - 2   Poor. For devotees only.
                      1   Ick. Shoot it.


  The Lynx might not have a lot of third-party developers right now, but the
ones they do have tend to do _really_ butt-kickin' work...


  Send whatevers to  |      If it has pixels, I'm for it.
--------------------------------------+------------------------------Lynx up!
"You weren't chosen because you are the best pilot in the Air Force. You were
    chosen because you are the class clown and frankly, you're expendable."

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