Hard Drivin' 2 logo

Publisher: Domark Price: £24.95

December 1990 heralded the arrival of Domark's conversion of the coin-op smash, Hard Drivin'. The game's programmer was German student Jurgen Friedrich. Wy the South London software house chose to employ the talents of an unknown was something of a mystery. However when it was revealed that Jurgen had programmed Domark's smash-hit Star Wars from memory, the games-hungry public knew that Hard Drivin' was going to be something special.

Ever since it sped up the software charts last Christmas, Domark have been promising a set of data disks. Hard Drivin' II - Drive Harder has finally arrived, but instead of the expected data disk, it is a complete game featuring a host of extra features.

The basic aim is to drive your Ferrari Testarossa as quickly and skillfully as possible. Control is either by mouse or joystick and the player can choose between automatic or manual transmission.
Hard Drivin' II features six new tracks, each containing a speed track and a stunt course.

Starting from a shard grid, you put your foot to the floor and head down the track, avoiding any vehicles that may be in the way. En route you'll pass a sign inviting you to turn on to the stunt track.
The speed circuit is just a race against the clock. However, if you opt for the stunt track you'll find yourself facing a series of jumps and loops.
Drivers must reach a checkpoint in order to continue. Doing so will ensure a time bonus and continuation of the race.

Should you prove yourself, you may be called upon to race against the Phantom Photon. Object of the wheel-to-wheel challenge is to beat the Phantom to the finish line so that your driving pattern will replace his in any future encounter.

New features include a two-player challenge, with two computer connected via a serial link-up. The controls have also been improved, and the car is now much more responsive.
Perhaps the best new addition is the inclusion of a track editor with which you can design your own courses and save them to disk for future races.

Hard Drivin' II is a first rate racing game well worth getting your hands on.


Hard Drivin' 2 logo

Domark * £24.99 Mouse

The original conversion of Hard Drivin' met with a less than favourable response. After being initially impressed with its speed, the final version proved to be a great deal slower and laden with bugs.

The sequel is basically the same game, except that a few refinements have been made to the package. To begin with, a few of the bugs have been ironed out, for example the cars react to the background property instead of appearing and disappearing in the wrong places.

Drive blind
If you have not seen the original Hard Drivin', the game itself places you in control of a rather super, shiny, red sports car driving around a circuit.

Care must be taken on either track, since if you come off the road, a 10 second countdown begins. If the time runs out then it's adios amigos! Crashes are also heavily penalised and to make matters worse, a camera-view replay of your disaster is replayed.

Ringing the changes
The original game was plagued with more than its share of problems. The dodgy control, glitchy graphics ad unusual 'features' unsurprisingly put quite a few people off the game. The sequel has managed to iron out some of the wrinkles, but there are still a few odd quirks.

Steering around the loop is pretty dodgy, tending to fly off the left-hand side even when the wheel is jammed hard to the right. The delay in starting after each crash is annoying - especially as the clock still ticks down!

One indication of some of the rough edges is the fact that instead of jumping back to the menu when you hit escape, the game dumps you out to the CLI. Not very polished, to say te least!

Still, if you're a fan of the coin-op, then this version gets closer than its predecessor and the track editor - despite being very fiddly to use - is a decent addition. However, the game still falls far short of its potential. Let's wait what happens with the Hard Racin' conversion - maybe that one will hit the mark.


WORKING ON THE HARD-TOP
One of the main additions of Hard Drivin' II is the track editor. Here you can use a set of track segments and building blocks to build your own circuit. You can choose to edit one of the tracks on the disk or create one from scratc. The track is built up from various segments which must be fitted together to form a closed loop and a separate, alternate route. Once you have created the circuit, you can embelish it by placing signs around the outside as well as houses, shops and fields. When you have finished designing, a drive-around demo is played, so you can change anything you're not happy with.
THE SPEED AND STUNT TRACKS
The Speed Track is the main part of the circuit. All that you are required to do is simply whiz around the track as fast as you can while avoiding smashing into the drone cars. If you manage to reach the finish in record time you can enter a challenge race against the Phantom Photon.
The Stunt Track is where the real Hard Drivin' takes place, and is where the challenge race is set. As well as the usual hazard of twisting bends and drone cars, you must overcome a series of obstacles, including open bridges, jumps, ramps and an almighty loop.

Hard Drivin' 2 logo

Unbestritten zählt Ataris "Hard Drivin'" zum Feinsten, was man in einer Spielhalle finden kann - ebenso unbestritten war Domarks Amigaversion ein Reinfall erste Güte. Das wird sich doch beim Nachfolger nicht geändert haben? Doch, und wie!

Um eventuellen Mißverständnissen vorzubeugen, eine gleich vorweg: Es handelt sich hier nicht um die Umsetzung des Nachfolge-Automaten "Race Drivin", sondern um eine eigenständige Weiterentwicklung des englischen Software-Riesen. Bei Domark hat man scheinbar ausgiebig über die Fehler der Vergangenheit nachgedacht und - selten genug in Zeiten wie diesen - daraus gelernt!

So wurde die unsagbar träge Steuerung des Vorgängers gründlich überarbeitet; sowohl mit der Maus als auch mit dem Stick rast es sich jetzt recht ordentlich. Und damit man das auch so richtig genießen kann, gibt es nun anstatt der ehedem zwei Kurse (Stunt- und Speedtrack) ein paar mehr - rechnet man den eingebauten Editor zum Erstellen eigener Strecken dazu, sogar unendlich viele! Dank dieses Features können alle Streckenelemente neu verknüpft werden, so daß selbst dem ausgebufften Profi-Driver nicht so bald langweilig wird. Ja, sogar an eine Zwei-Spieler-Option per Nullmodem wurde gedacht - wer die "Geistergegner" also auf Dauer langweilig findet, kann jetzt auch gegen einen Konkurrenten aus Fleisch und Blut antreten!

Was nun die Vektorgrafik des Rennspektakels betrifft, so bot sie ja schon bei Domarks erstem Anlauf nahezu Arcade-Qualität: jetzt hat sie noch mal einen Zahn zugelegt und ist daher schön und schnell (wenn auch immer noch unter der Schallmauer). Selbstverständlich werden Unfälle auch hier aus der Vogelperspektive wiederholt, überhaupt hat sich optisch nicht allzuviel geändert. Man bekommt die gleichen Objekte (Autos, Brücken, Häuser, Straßenschilder, Kühe, etc.) vorgesetzt, nur halt in neuer Anordnung.

Der Sound is sogar komplett gleich geblieben, lediglich die Titelmelodie ist anders - dafür aber nicht besonders schön. Ein bißchen Kritik müssen wir auch am Editor üben, er ist zwar umfangreich und vielseitig, allerdings ziemlich umständlich in der Handhabung. Vom Aufbau her erinnert das Teil an ein CAD-Programm, Ingenieure sind gegenüber Otto Normalzocker eindeutig im Vorteil...

Dank der verbesserten Steuerung macht es jetzt also endlich gebührend Laune, unter Zeitdruck durch Steilkurven und Loopings zu brettern. Man fragt sich jedoch unwillkürlich: Warum nicht gleich so? Verärgerte Käufer des Vorgängers können ihr Game zwar nicht gegen das um Klassen bessere Hard Drivin' 2 umtauschen, sofern sie wahre Fans des Automaten sind, haben wir aber wenigstens einen kleine Trost in petto: Bei Domark strickt man bereits an der offiziellen Umsetzung von "Race Drivin'"! (mm)


Hard Drivin' 2 logo

With the authenticity of a simulation and the action of a race game, Hard Drivin' caused quite a stir when it first appeared in the arcades.
The track was split into two sections, speed and stunt, with the object being to complete them in the fastest time possible. Only after the tracks had been completed did you get race the computer controlled Hard Drivin' champ, The Phantom Photon.

The game's graphics were designed in a simple, but effective, 3D style. With speed, addictive gameplay and a minimum price of fifty pee a go it made producers Tengen a lot of money. Along came Domark with their cheque book, pen went to paper and the licence was theirs. It was obvious from the start they wouldn't be able to capture the game's speed on any computer other than the fastest PCs, but it was a good attempt that received honourable reviews.

Hard Drivin' 2 is a computer-only sequel (so don't go looking for it in the arcades) the main feature of which is a design system which allows you to create tracks with all the hazards of the original. Remove the track generator and what you're left with is the original game.

The game play, controls and features are the same as its predecessor. It appears to be a little faster, though the action slows down as the screen clutters up. Apart from a few new preset tracks there isn't any difference between HD1 and HD2.

The track editor does expand the gameplay potential quite a bit. Your designs can be as complex or as stupid as you like. So long as there's a start and a finish, you're limited only by your imagination.

For a two player head-to-head you can hook up your Amiga up to a PC, ST or another Amiga, providing you've got an RS232 interface lead and a copy of the game on the other machine. This feature was also in the original. Although it was somewhat unreliable. The code's been tweaked in this version so you shouldn't have any problems.

For those who already possess the original Hard Drivin' there's not much point in buying this (unless you've money to burn), otherwise it's both addictive, playable and, with the new designed course, definitely value for money.