ONLY a few years ago a game such as this would have been impossible. A faithful conversion from the arcade game, Hard Drivin' is most definitely a car simulator, not your bog standard formula one racing car game. The arcade cabinet even had an ignition key.
Here you drive a red car of indefinable type with improved handling and tyres. It is sort of based on a Testarossa, but during the action replay sequence it looks like a breeze block with a brick on top.
The track layout is designed to offer you a choice of straight speed or a stunt circuit with open bridge, 360 degree loop and banked corners.
When you skid, which you will do if you exceed 60 mph, you must point the wheels in the opposite direction to correct - and jolly realistic it feels, too. If you can resist shouting "Yeeeehaaa!" when you jump the bridge, then you are a stronger man than I.
Usual gripes about not having a steering wheel to plug into the Amiga apply, but using a mouse or even a trackball is a workable substitute.
A joystick can be used as a gear stick or as another steering implement, but it's not any easier to use than the dreaded rodent. Remind me to set up a company to sell steering wheels.
The mathematically generated world in which you exist shows a few cracks here and there. Oncoming cars have a frightening habit of appearing to travel towards you through solid hills, and the action replay finds it difficult to keep up with the car travelling up slopes, and instead plants it under the surface. I was prepared to let these bugs pass (like the lorry on the loop-the-
Unfortunately, there is a subtle moral dilemma in making car games as realistic as this. Striving to emulate the real world is to be recommended - it could be used to encourage skilful driving and potentially save lives. Instead you are encouraged in Hard Drivin' to break speed limits, drive on the wrong side of the road and infringe more road traffic laws than a typical cab driver.
A head-on collision with another car incurs nothing more than a time penalty. No multiple pile-ups and being forced to play the rest of the game in a wheelchair here. No, this is good clean family entertainment - killing people is OK as long as they are computer-
In a form of acknowledgement, the game gives you a helpful warning message to the effect that attempting the stunts in the game for real could be dangerous or even fatal. So make sure there is a grown up around when you try this, kids.
Solid, real-time 3D graphics have come of age on the home computer. The question is, are we ready for them?